PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard LLB LLM (London) "Internet Law Book Reviews"

HISTORICAL NOTE ON THE CITY OF LONDON POLICE. Adapted from the Old Instruction Book as amended until 1979, then withdrawn.

The history of the City of London Police is documented and authenticated from very early times-at least from the Norman conquest and the establishment of the feudal system and probably (though without the same authoritative backing) from the sixth century when the responsibility of keeping the "King's Peace" was placed on all local inhabitants.

Historical records make it clear, however, that the control of the Police of the City of London has always been in the hands of the citizens, either through the medium of the "Trained Bands," through the Watch and Ward Committee, or otherwise.

The Trained (or "Train") Bands were voluntary organisations comparable in many ways with the City of London Special Constabulary of the present day. They were, however, of a semi-military character. They took part, for example in the revolt against Charles 1, which was an expression of the growing power of the City Guilds and merchants in the defence of the City's self-government.

The phrase" Watch and Ward," which for so long described the Police system of the City, referred respectively to the night and day guard that was undertaken by the watchmen. The system seems to have been regularised, if not established, by a Statute passed in 1285, the thirteenth year of Edward I and the beginning of Parliamentary history, entitled "Statuta Civitatus London." This was the year in which appeared the famous Statute of Winchester, which commanded that watch be kept in all cities and towns and that two Constables be chosen in every "Hundred" or "Franchise", to see that this was done.

A "Hundred" was comprised of ten "Tithings," and a "Tithing" was a group of ten persons charged with the responsibility for each other's observance of the law. The whole of the male population over twelve years of age was divided into Tithings, which were also known as "Peace Guilds" or "Frankpleges." The Tithing system of preserving the public order had existed intermittently, from Saxon times, and the Statute of Winchester merely revived and extended it. A separate Statute seems to have been thought necessary however, to meet the peculiar conditions of the City of London.

Originally, every inhabitant of a Ward in the City of London was liable to serve in his turn in the Watch or to provide a substitute. It was the duty of the Constable of the Ward, who was required to be a freeman of the City and was similar in status to the High Constable, Tithingman, or Head-borough of other districts, to keep a register of the residents in his Ward, and order them for service with the Watch. It was also his duty to arrest and bring to justice all offenders against the law. Crimes against property for which no arrest was forthcoming reacted unfavourably on the members of the Watch, who, as members of the "Peace Guild" or "Frankpledge," were called upon to make good the damages involved.

A clear statutory recognition of this principle is to be found in the Riot (Damages) Act, 1886, which threw upon the local rates (via the Police Fund) the burden of compensating persons sustaining damage in a riot.

The Constable lost prestige as his duties multiplied. The early Constable was something very like an Alderman. According to some authorities it was, for example, the "Constable of the City" one Robert Fitzwalter, who led the barons in the presentation to King John of the petition that resulted in the signing of Magna Charta. As time went on the Constables' duties became less and less attractive to them, and they began to employ deputies or "Petty Constables," evading personal Police service by paying others to do the work for them. Constables were supposed to be appointed annually, but the deputies who did their work carried on in that capacity year after year, and were paid to do so by the Constables. This system, though it seems to have been the origin of the paid Police Service as it exists today, was not an auspicious beginning; the paid deputies were apparently of an ignorant, uncouth type, generally too old for their duties, so poorly paid as to become involved in numerous scandals and abuses, and a natural focus for the public resentment which could now be centred on a few who had taken over the distasteful duties of the many.

The "Statuta Civitatus London" provided that the gates of London were to be shut every night, and that the City should be divided into twenty-four Wards, each with six Watchmen controlled by an Alderman. This was known as emerged what may be regarded as the first City of London Police Act. The system thus inaugurated continued for centuries although at times the responsibility of keeping "the King's Peace" was a matter of considerable difficulty, and the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty were on several occasions issued with writs from the reigning monarch to attend to this duty. They were summoned before him in 1338 and required to prepare a written statement as to the manner in which this should be done. This statement was accepted and as a result 223 persons were sworn to " keep" the City according to the articles.

The variations in the system were numerous both as to the number of watchmen and the persons called on to perform this duty and one reads of the Chaplain to the Bishop of London, and the vicars and curates being required by ordinance in 1543 to" find lanthorn light and watch in a like manner to other inhabitants."

In 1693 an Act of Common Council was passed which provided that more than 1,000 watchmen should be constantly on duty in the City from Sunset to Sunrise, and that every inhabitant should take his turn. These men were known as "Charlies," after King Charles II, in whose reign their establishment was first proposed. There was also in existence a body called the " Marching Watch," which was to move about and assist the watchmen in the Wards. All these watchmen were authorised to arrest offenders and bring them before the Mayor.

The Constables and the " Watch " were under the direct supervision of the Mayor, Aldermen and Sheriffs who were required to patrol on horse and see that the watch was kept. The office of Constable existed contemporaneously with the system of Watch and Ward, although each was relatively independent of the other until 1705, when an Act of Common Council was passed which authorised the appointment of 583 night watchmen and made provision for the effective co- operation of the Constables and Beadles with the Watch. It also expressly sanctioned the payment of money to a Ward Officer for the provision of a substitute. Other evidence suggests that it was the usual practice of the majority of the householders selected as watchmen to pay an agreed sum for a substitute.

In 1737 the night watch of the City was further regulated by Statute (10 Geo II cap 22) which was an Act "for better regulating the Night Watch and Beadles within the City of London and Liberties," etc. and which required the Court of Common Council to order and appoint what number of Watchmen & Beadles they thought necessary, how they should be armed and what wages should be paid to them, and also to direct what number of Constables should attend every night in each respective Ward, and to make such other Orders and Regulations as the nature of each particular service should seem to them to require,"

This, the first paid Police Force, was superintended by the Aldermen, and consisted of 68 men, 32 of whom were employed during the day in the general duties of the street patrol. Twelve were allotted to preserve order in Smithfield Market, and 12 were placed in the Station Houses throughout the City to receive charges. The Station Houses were situated at the Mansion House, London Bridge, Portsoken (Aldgate), Bishopsgate, Fleet Market, and St. Andrew Holborn. These 56 men constituted the whole of the day force, the remaining 12 being assigned as a Night Patrol, in addition to the existing Ward Watchmen. The latter were a totally distinct and separate body of watchmen under the control of the Aldermen and Common Councilmen of each Ward, and maintained by a Ward Rate levied by authority of the Common Council.

The present-day (1979) office of Ward Beadle is a survival of that "Nightly Watch and Ward" apart from certain duties under the Licensing Acts, and the fact that they were the Coroner's Officers for their respective Wards their functions were entirely ceremonial.

The Act of 1737 with little modification controlled the policing of the City of London for little over a century. The Force remained the direct responsibility of the Mayor and Aldermen but later was placed under the supervision of two Marshals who were assisted by six Marshalmen.

The duties of the Marshals, besides supervising the City Police Force, were to keep books of occurrences to be laid before the Court of Mayor and Aldermen at every meeting; attend at public processions on horseback and regulate them; cause the Constables of the City to be summoned according to precept or order of the Lord Mayor; hire as Constables decent men, giving preference to the Ward Constables as additional Constables when required; attend the Markets and preserve the peace at Bartholomew Fair; apprehend all rogues and pickpockets; patrol the streets to see that they were clear of vagrants, and many other duties readily accepted as normal Police duties today

They were also required to give notice of any non-freemen exercising their trades within the city, and put in force all orders of the Court of Aldermen and Common Council for order of the City according to the Statute and Common Law, and suppress all affrays and riots.

The Marshalmen were appointed to assist the Marshals in carrying out these duties, and to execute all warrants and summonses. They supervised both the Ward Constables and the Watchmen, and recorded daily in a book at the Mansion House the state of the City, in order that the Marshals might report to the Lord Mayor.

One of the earliest available records of the Force as it existed at that time, a book of" Rules, Orders, and Regulations for the Police of the City of London, agreed to and ordered by the Court of Aldermen, the 30th day of March, 1824" the first page of which shows that the whole of the Force resided within the City, that each member was required to have the name of his office placed or painted upon his door or some conspicuous part of his residence, and that the Police Force still consisted of two Marshals with a number of "Marshalmen" and Constables. The latter exercised a similar supervision and authority over the existing Watchmen to that which marks the relationship of Inspectors to Constables of the present day. The Act of 1737 said, for example that the "Watchmen, in the absence of the Constable, are required to apprehend malefactors and suspected persons and to deliver them to the Constable of the night, who is to carry them before a Justice."

Outside the City, efforts were also being made at about this time to combat crime by appointing Constables to act under the Magistrates at the Police Offices, and in 1812 a Parliamentary Committee appointed to investigate the state of the nightly watch and of the police, cited the example of the City as one which, "if it could be successfully imitated in Westminster and its Liberties, and within the other adjacent parishes, considerable benefit might be expected." Three other Parliamentary Committees followed, up to the year 1828, reporting to similar effect, and Sir Benjamin Stone, Chamberlain of London, in his "Statistical Vindication of the City of London, 1877," states that it was from the City Force, as then existing, that Sir Robert Peel, the Home Secretary, formed his plan for the creation of one force for the Metropolitan parishes.

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force and sought to consolidate the two Forces. The City Corporation resisted this proposition strenuously and successfully; but the City Police began to undergo drastic remodelled in 1832 so as to consist of 1 Superintendent, 3 Inspectors, 10 Sergeants, and 85 Constables, and was appointed for duty in the daytime only. Police duties at night being left to the Ward Constables and Watchmen as hitherto. Only six years later, however, it was again increased and reconstituted, on the grounds that it was found to be inadequate, and in order that it might take over the whole duties of both Police and Watchmen day and night. The City was divided into six Police districts, with stations at St. Sepulchre's, St. Bride's, Cordwainer, Tower, Bishopsgate, and Cripplegate, with a Chief Office at Guildhall. The establishment was increased to 501, made up as follows: I Superintendent or Chief Officer, 12 Inspectors, 50 Sergeants, and 438 Constables. A Chief Clerk and a Surgeon were appointed.

This brought the Force into conformity with what had been done outside the City. That is to say, the Police functions of the City Marshals and other Corporation Officers were absorbed, as had been the Offices of High Constable and Petty Constable in outer London by the passing of the Metropolitan Police Act, 1829.

In 1839 a further attempt was made to bring about amalgamation. Lord John Russell was now Home Secretary, and he introduced a Bill in the House of Commons "for further improving the Police in and near the Metropolis" by which it was proposed that the City of London should become part of the Metropolitan Police district. A petition from the Court of Common Council to Her Majesty Queen Victoria met with immediate success, however, and the proposed merger was again defeated. A deputation from the Police and Watch Committee agreed, after consultation with Lord John Russell, to introduce a Bill into Parliament in that year (1839) for the reconstitution and regulation of the City Police, and for the preservation of all attendant rights and privileges. The City of London Police Act, 1839 (2 and 3 Vic. cap. XCIV), came into being. It repealed the Act of 1737, and established the system which has continued with no fundamental changes until the present day. Further attempts were made from time to time, notably in 1856 to 1863, to bring about a fusion of the City and Metropolitan Police Forces. On the latter occasion, when a Bill with that object was introduced by Sir George Grey, a protest meeting of 3,000 merchants and bankers took place in the Guildhall, and such a powerful body of opinion addressed itself to the matter that the Bill was eventually withdrawn.

The City of London Police Act, 1839, authorised the appointment of a Commissioner. The Chief Office, although originally established at Guildhall, was in 1841 removed to 26 Old Jewry, E.C.2, where a very fine building was purchased as a residence and office for the Commissioner. This was rebuilt in 1930, the fine carved oak staircase of the old building being retained and incorporated in the new structure.

The strength of the Force increased as its duties multiplied, extra men being added from time to time to enable the Police to take a more active part in controlling the ever growing flow of traffic; thus in 1865 an extra fifty men were added on the grounds that, "the duties of patrolling beats could not be left and that it was essential for public safety that constables should be posted to wherever two crowded streets meet, so as to prevent as far as practicable those accidents which are now of frequent occurrence, and which in several recent instances have terminated fatally.

Further increases were made, until in 1910 the establishment of the Force reached 1,181, with an additional number of 150 men allowed for Private Service, this representing the peak establishment of the Force.

In 1865 the City Police Hospital at Bishopsgate was founded, supervised by a surgeon and a matron, with a staff of nurses. Here, men who reported sick and were likely to be absent from duty for more than a few days were admitted and given expert nursing and medical treatment. The Hospital was closed in 1947 when the provision of medical attention was brought under the National Health Service.

The City of London Police have been trained in First Aid since 1890. In 1907 the first ambulances, powered by electricity, were purchased, and an ambulance service, staffed and supervised by the City Police, was brought into operation. At this time the London County Council were trying to obtain a better ambulance service in the Metropolitan area and that of the City of London was cited as an example. A system of street telephone call boxes was adopted as part of the ambulance with equipment and ambulances until 1949 when it was taken over by the London Ambulance Service in accordance with the provisions of the National Health Service Act, 1946.

In the year 1910, the City Police were concerned with a case which has probably become an "epic" of English Police History, the" Houndsditch Murders," in which whilst attempting to arrest a desperate gang of armed criminals, three members of the Force lost their lives and two others were so severely injured that they were unfit for further service. The investigations culminated in the "Sydney Street Siege" at which military forces assisted and which was attended by the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill.

In 1914 further re-organisation of the Force took place, the strength being reduced, and the Divisions cut from 6 to 4, the Stations being "A " Division, Moor Lane; " B " Division, Snow Hill; "C" Division, Bishopsgate; and "D" Division, Cloak Lane.

In the First World War a considerable number of members of the Force volunteered for service with the armed forces, as a result of which the strength of the City Police was considerably reduced. During this period the Force was assisted by the First Police Reserve and the Special Constabulary.

With the passing of the Police Act, 1919, the City of London Police were grouped, for the purposes of pay, with their Metropolitan neighbours and the pay of the lower ranks of all Forces was standardised. It was also in this year that the City Corporation were forced to ask the Government for a grant towards the cost of the Force. This was brought about because of the parlous state of " City's Cash" (i.e. the special funds of the Corporation) upon which, up to that time, the City had been able to draw to augment the Police Rate, authorised to be raised to meet the cost of the Force by the City of London Police Acts, 1839 and 1919. The grant was approved and a special government contribution has been received each year since 1919. In the case of the City the government grant has not been on the same terms as that made to all other Police Authorities (viz 50% of total net approved expenditure) but consisted until 1964 of one half the total net approved expenditure on Police during the year, less the sum which would have been produced in that year by the product of a rate of 4d in the pound on the area served by the Force. Since 1964 the government grant to the City has been one third of total net approved expenditure.

A programme of re-building was commenced in 1926, and included the reconstruction of Snow Hill police station, the erection of a large block of police flats in Ferndale Court, Brixton, and the re-building of the Chief Office and Bishopsgate station, the last named being completed in 1939.

In 1930 a system of controlling vehicular traffic by signal lights was introduced at Ludgate Circus to assist the City Police to deal with the ever increasing volume of traffic, and two years later the first automatic vehicle activated traffic signals in Europe were installed at the Cornhill/Bishopsgate intersection. Since than the control of traffic by this system of traffic signals has been progressively pursued throughout the City, and the installation at the Bank intersection was, at the time, the most advanced of its type in the country.

The communications of the Force were re-organised in 1933 and a system of visual signalling was adopted in conjunction with ambulance call boxes, enabling officers to communicate with each other, and to be communicated with, by means of a flashing light signal. In the same year the teleprinter service was adopted between City Police Stations and New Scotland Yard and between Headquarters and Provincial Forces.

The area of the City, approximately one square mile, did not encourage the view that patrol cars could be used to advantage, and it was not until 1937 that two cars were purchased to patrol the City. They were fitted with wireless and worked in close collaboration with the Information Room, New Scotland Yard. They proved a great success principally because the liaison between the two Forces was so closely maintained.

The second World War was a formidable test for the City of London Police. The organisation of the Warden's Service (Air Raid Warden's) in the City had been placed upon the Police and, a Police Officer was in command as Chief Warden. Incident control was carried out by a Police Officer who was responsible for the co-ordination of the services which were necessarily involved.

The regular Force was supplemented by First Police Reserves and Special Constables and in addition a Force of "War Reserves " was recruited, from men over 25 years of age who expressed a desire to serve in the Police rather than the fighting Services.

The City was one of the most heavily damaged areas in the Country, about one-third being devastated; all the Police Stations received direct hits with H.E. bombs and Moor Lane Station was completely destroyed. The morale of the Force during the war years was exceptionally high and members of the Force enhanced its reputation by their devotion to duty, as a result of which some received civil decorations.

Due to the extensive damage occasioned to "A" Division the Force was later re-organised into three Divisions. In 1965 Cloak Lane station closed and was replaced by Wood Street police station.

The Police Act, 1946, brought about a re-organisation of the smaller Police Forces throughout the country, many of them being amalgamated with larger adjoining Forces. During the parliamentary debates before the passing of the Act there were further attacks on the separate status of the City Police but the Bill was so drafted as to exclude the City Police from its operation, and the Government resisted all attempts to change it in this respect.

The establishment of the Force underwent further changes when in 1947 it was reduced to 975 for Public Service and 150 for Private Service.

In 1949, by the addition of one Woman Police Sergeant and six women Police Constables, the authorised establishment of the Force, including the Commissioner, was brought up to 983.

Further amalgamation of Forces resulted from the Police Act, 1964, but once again the City was not affected.

Further advances in the communications system of this Force were made in 1952 by the introduction of a V.H.F. radio- telephony network entirely independent of any other organisation, giving a radio link between Headquarters and units carried on vehicles or personal receivers carried by individual members of the Force. The system has proved effective in traffic control, C,I.D. work and for duties on special occasions as well as for routine Police messages.

In post war years, the problem which overshadowed all others was the recruitment of suitable men as Constables. In spite of vigorous efforts this proved difficult of solution and the strength of the Force fell to approximately one third below establishment. The expansion of traffic control by vehicle- actuated signals helped to compensate for this shortage. The more effective deployment of the available manpower was given much thought and led to the introduction of a duty system designed to ensure that the correct balance of manpower was on duty at those times which experience and statistics have shown to be most advantageous in dealing with the Police problems involved and that the manpower was mobile and capable of quick concentration where most required.

The perusal of these notes will have indicated that the history of the City 0f London Police through the years constitutes a record of advance and development in keeping with an ever changing environment, and that the Force occupies a unique position in the Police Service of this country. It has maintained its individuality to the present day, the only modification of its privilege of self-government being the measure of Home Office supervision introduced by the Police Act, 1919, and the Regulations made thereunder by the Home Secretary.

The man who becomes a member of the City Police inherits a tradition as old as English History itself. If history has any meaning the realisation of this heritage should furnish him with the incentive to that continual progress and improvement which distinguishes history from a mere record of dates and events.


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