Surrey Constabulary formed

1850, December 3: The Times: Yesterday a special meeting of the magistrates of the County of Surrey took place in Sessions House, Newington Causeway for the purpose of hearing the report of the committee appointed at the Quarter Sessions to ascertain the best means of extending a police force to that portion of the county beyond the limits of the Metropolitan Police District.

The committee was arranged shortly after the late melancholy murder of the Rev. Mr. Hollest at Frimley, a village at the extremity of the western division of the county which is without the protection of a constable. It was agreed to accept the report the details of the legislation and Home Office requirements were considered. There had to be divisions of no less than twenty six thousand inhabitants a requirement of statute.

Having considered and consulted widely, including with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police it was agreed that ninety six parishes would be policed in three divisions, Chertsey, Dorking and Godalming. The chief constable was to reside at Dorking the most central point. The various lockup houses will be repaired and the station houses, etc. to be erected at an estimated cost of not exceeding three thousand pounds which could be raised upon securing the police rate and repaid with interest in twenty yearly instalments.

The statute says the force must not exceed one constable per one thousand inhabitants. "Therefore if from the total expenditure of £6,284.7s be deducted the ascertained amount of savings, namely £2,574 there remains a balance of £3,710.7s which will be so much further reduced after the police force shall have been a short time in operation; that the expense of maintaining them will, it is believed, be little felt by the rural portion of the county, while the committee are convinced that the security afforded to life and property will simply repay the expenditure incurred; and their recommendations when carried into effect will prove of the utmost advantage to all classes of the community. On the motion of Lord Lovaine the report was adopted and the election of the chief constable was to take place on the first day of the Epiphany Sessions."

1851, 1 January: The Surrey Constabulary became operational with an establishment of seventy police officers, including five superintendents. The first chief constable, Captain Hastings, was aged thirty eight years.

The chief constable required the men to be honest and sober, less than thirty years of age and at least five feet seven inches tall. There was no minimum age - one constable was appointed at the age of fourteen and another at fifteen. The first county headquarters was in the old Guildford Borough Police Station at the Corn Market House but this was only until the new headquarters was completed in Woodbridge Road in 1854.

County police stations were established in Bagshot, Chertsey, Dorking and Farnham and new stations were built at Egham, Godstone, Guildford, Haslemere, Hersham, Leatherhead, and Reigate. The original station at Chertsey was sold because of its poor condition and a new one built. Five superintendents were stationed at Reigate, Dorking, Godalming, Farnham and Headquarters.

There was no rank of sergeant which does not appear in the records until 1865. There were four classes of constables with newly appointed officers starting at class four and moving through the classes on promotion. They were required to work seven days a week and granted twelve days leave a year, which had to be taken in summer as no leave was permitted during the winter.

It was not until 1853 that an Instruction Book was provided to give guidance on policing matters, although the system of General Orders began on 30 January 1851. The first order related to the taking of leave.

1851, 13 January: The Times: The office of Superintendent of the Surrey police has been conferred on Mr Henry Cadogan Hastings, late lieutenant (sic) in the 55 Bengal Native Infantry.

1851, 22 January: The Scotsman: The office of Superintendent of the Surrey police has been conferred on Mr Henry Cadogan Hastings late a lieutenant (sic) in the 55th Bengal Native Infantry.

1851: On formation the headquarters was not to be Dorking but in the Guildford Borough police station at the Corn Market House; the Woodbridge Road HQ was completed and moved into in 1854.23 William Henry Biddlecombe the Head Constable of Godalming aged 36, was appointed to the new force as a superintendent and was number one in the appointment book.24

Of the first seventy men appointed only five served long enough to receive a pension; twenty nine were dismissed before they served a year and a large number of the others were dismissed or resigned over a short time. There was no shortage of recruits although as always, the pay was poor, seventeen shillings a week, and the conditions harsh. Men worked seven days a week but twelve days a year leave was granted in the summer as no leave was permitted during the winter.

No instruction was given to the men and it was not until 1853 that an Instruction Book was provided. At the time of formation there were police stations at Bagshot, Chertsey, Dorking and Farnham which passed to the county and new stations were built at Egham, Godstone, Guildford, Haslemere, Hersham, Leatherhead, Reigate and at Chertsey where the original one was found to be unhealthy.25

1850s Metropolitan Policeman Tom Smith.

1850s Metropolitan Policeman
Tom Smith – smaller version
of this uniform adopted

1851: Uniform: The first uniform style was that of the Metropolitan Police until in 1867 a new local style was adopted.

1851, 30 January: GO 1: Deals with applications for leave stating the day and hour of return.26

1851, 31 January: GO 6: Superintendents on receiving information of a robbery or any other serious offence having been committed are required immediately to communicate the same with the chief constable. (Note: The term robbery is used as a generic term for crime and is interchangeable with burglary, larceny etc).27

1851, 1 February: GO 8: First commendation given to PC James Walker for the way he conducted himself in a felony case and was promoted from the third to second class of constable. In March 1852 Walker was reduced again for drunkenness. He resigned.28

1851, 1 February: For stealing a ewe sheep a man sentenced to ten years transportation.29

1851, about February: First murder charges brought by the Constabulary were against John Keene aged twenty two and Jane Keene aged twenty five charged with the murder of Charles Broomer aged three years in Albury. See 1852, 26 January.

1851, 29 April: GO 35: County horses are not being cared for and were not to be ridden at a greater speed than 6mph.30 There were many messages about horses which received a great deal of attention and were not allowed out in the wet! If sick the horses were taken to HQ and had to be walked. From Reigate the horse would be led to Dorking and then a luckless Dorking officer would have to walk the horse to Guildford and then presumably walk back.

1852, 1 May: GO 78: Between 1 June 1851 and 30 April 1852 thirty one men were punished mostly for drunkenness and neglect of duty.31

1851, 17 May: George Pink aged eleven stole a piece of "oaken wood" value a two pence and was sentenced to seven days hard labour and ordered to privately whipped once.32

1851, 18 May: At Godstone a thirteen year old boy was whipped for stealing a faggot and at the same court a boy aged fifteen was sentenced to two months hard labour for stealing a quantity of wood.33

1851, 26 May: GO 41: The chief constable has observed with displeasure that certain members of the Force are in the habit of wearing plain clothes as if they were ashamed of their uniform. Such practice is extremely objectionable and altogether at variance with the regulations of any service in which uniform is provided. The chief constable therefore calls upon superintendents in particular to set an example to their men under them in this, as well as in all other respects and trusts he will not be called upon again to notice such irregularities.34 An example of this was on the first of April 1851; PC John Lawrence was severely reprimanded for being in plain clothes.35, 36

1851, June: GO 50: In the first five months eight men were dismissed mostly for drunkenness. Some examples: John Lawrence was severely reprimanded for signing a report without reading it, and again for wearing plain clothes on duty the following month. Richard Langridge allowed a prisoner to go into a public house whilst he waited outside. Henry Cook was dismissed for being drunk and enlisting. John Smith was fined ten shillings and reduced from first to second class for fraudulently claiming exemption from the toll and not being on duty. In large type in the discipline record on 6th November 1852 William Earl was dismissed for insolence to the chief constable.

1851, 18 June: GO 51: Discipline: Since the Force was formed seventeen men have been disciplined with drunkenness forming a significant number of the offences.37

1851, 19 June: GO 52: Insufficient use is being made of the county cart for the carriage of prisoners.38

1851, 1 July: GO 53: Superintendent Biddlecombe is posted to the Chertsey Division. This is the man who can truly claim to be the first and preeminent detective within the Surrey Constabulary at this time.39

1851, 27 July: Constable John Page 1st Class Constable and acting Inspector at Chobham is appointed Inspector at twenty three shillings a week. (Note – there were no sergeants)40

Badge of Guildford Borough Police

1851: Guildford Police was originally formed on 20th January 1836 under the leadership of their chief officer Richard Jarlett who was succeeded in 1841 by Charles Hollington. In 1851 the force was abolished and became part of the larger Surrey Constabulary only to be re-formed three years later in October 1854. Leadership of the force during the First World War was under W. V. Nicholas from 1909 until his death in office in May 1929.

1851, 28 August: For trespassing in search of game three men were charged and committed for trial where they were sentenced to six months hard labour.41

1851, 10 December: Harry Percival age twenty eight a labourer stole a handkerchief and eight pence three farthings and was transported for ten years.42

1851: Detection rate: There was not a great deal of crime but those prosecuted had an excellent chance of acquittal, in fact an even chance, possibly because of poor investigation and case preparation by untrained and inexperienced police officers. This is further evidenced by the large number of arrests in proportion to the recorded crime. It seems as if the constables locked people up to take them to the superintendent for further investigation.


23 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 5.

24 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 5.

25 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 7.

26 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

27 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

28 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

29 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 12.

30 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

31 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

32 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 13.

33 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 12.

34 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

35 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 15.

36 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

37 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

38 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

39 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

40 Surrey Constabulary General Orders Book 1: 1851-.

41 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 12.

42 Durrant, A.J. (1951). A hundred years of the Surrey Constabulary, 1851-1951, p. 12

 

Surrey Constabulary badge