Special Constabulary

In 1911, the Home Office issued a circular asking every police district to hold a register of persons whose services could be called upon if a serious emergency arose. The suggested structure consisted of a First Police Reserve of police or army trained constables, and a Second Police Reserve of volunteer special constables.

Nothing more of this directive was heard of until November 1914, when the outbreak of war inspired the enrolment of two thousand special constables in the Surrey Constabulary area. They were provided with uniforms, armlets and truncheons, and apparently gave valuable service throughout the First World War. In 1919 they were stood down but allowed to keep their truncheons.

The Special Constabulary Act of 1923 provided a permanent force of one thousand five hundred and twelve special constables in Surrey. The General Strike of 1926 saw the Surrey Special Constabulary employed to aid the First Police Reserve but there were few occasions requiring large scale assistance until the outbreak of the Second World War.

In April 1939, following a directive from the Secretary of State, Surrey County Council was authorised to re-establish a first Police Reserve of one hundred and thirty men for the county.91 The force was to be equipped in the same manner as the regular constabulary. Also to be established was a Special Constabulary force of one thousand five hundred and fifteen men, with five hundred earmarked for full or near full time duty in the event of war. A Police War Reserve of five hundred men was further to be established, mainly from the existing number of special constables.

The Byfleet Section of the Surrey Special Constabulary was part of the Woking Division of the Surrey Joint Police Force. From 1942, special constables were required to work a minimum of twelve hours a week, consisting of four hours of patrol duty and eight hours of 'standby' duty; these hours were amended regularly and shortened as the war drew to an end.

The Special Constabulary was disbanded after the war, in September 1945. George Bruzaud resided at Highfield End, West Byfleet. He was appointed section leader of Surrey Special Constabulary prior to 1915 and resigned on 29 September 1945.92

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91 Surrey County Council, Committee Reports, 1939, pp.1384-1388.

92 http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/GetRecord/SHCOL_6890 [25 January 2010].


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