History of Hastings Police 1836-1967

Wellington Square, Hastings, Sussex Postcard
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The Priory Bridge, later the site of the Memorial is in the centre of the picture with The York Hotel and York Buildings to its left Wellington Square is almost complete Read more at: https://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/lifestyle/17-great-views-of-hastings-1-6659924
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Research and drafting undertaken by Mr Charles banks, a former Inspector of the Force 1967

On 2nd July, 1836. the Watch Committee dealt with their first discipline charge. P.C.6 James Brazier was dismissed the Service for being found drunk and asleep on his beat during his night duty. John Tilden, a bricklayer, was appointed in his stead.

The Minutes dated 14th July, 1836. record that P.C. 4 Adams was authorised to retain the sum of 6/- received by him for impounding some cattle found straying in Wellington Square. It became customary for such fees to be retained by the Constables concerned.

P.S. 1 Jessop on 30th July. 1836, was reduced to the rank of Constable. having been found guilty of being intoxicated whilst on duty. P.C. 5 Barnes was promoted in his stead.

The Committee refused at their Meeting held on 24 th August, 1836, an application for a constable to attend an archery meeting at St. Leonards, being of the opinion that it would not be advisable to take men off their regular duty for such purpose. The Archery Ground was at The Mount, and the College of Further Education is now built upon its site.

At their Meeting on 24th November. 1836. the Committee considered a charge against Lord Southampton for dangerous driving and decided that the matter be deferred to their next Meeting. It appears. however, that no further action was taken.

P.C. Crispin Jessop regained his stripes on 15th December, 1836, replacing the unfortunate Serjt. Welsted, who had been dismissed in consequence of five months’ illness.

Crime prevention is not a new idea. for it is recorded under date 12th January. 1837, that

“the Inspector is directed to call at 24 Marina, St. Leonards, and see the Master and inform him of the negligence of his servants, in leaving the back door unfastened at night”.

The Watch Committee had no qualms from immediately discharging from the Service in February, 1837, a constable who had been “reported for neglect of duty for loitering in a street, for incivility to his Sergeant, and for reporting the conversation and private arrangements of the Police to an individual suspected of committing an offence”, and they similarly discharged another constable reported “for neglect of duty in playing 4 crosses at Warriors Gate Inn and drinking when on duty, and taking off his armlet and refusing to go on duty”. The Sergeant concerned in the latter case was himself in trouble a month later being “reported for neglect of duty for exchanging his Hat for a Girl’s Bonnet and allowing her to wear his hat and for not visiting all his men on duty”. For this offence the Sergeant was reprimanded.

At their Meeting held on 7th September, 1837, the Watch Cornmittee considered a Resolution from the Council

“That it would be expedient with a view to economy for a less amount of regular Police force in uniform to be maintained, and that the principle of enrolled assistants be adopted in lieu thereof and report their opinion to, the Council as soon as possible”.

A week later the Town Clerk reported that he had made the following Return to the Constabulary Force Commissioner:- Summary of Crimes, offences and occurences within the Borough of Hastings calling for the interference of the Police from their first Establishment in June, 1836, under the Municipal Corporations Act, to 1st June. 1837.

Felonies 29

5 Misdemeanours in obtaining goods under false pretences
11 Assaults on Police
14 Common assaults and Breaches of peace
21 Stealing vegetables, underwood, etc., under Petty Trespass Act
81 Offences under Town Act
57 Offences against Beer & Alehouse licences
64 Other Petty Misdemeancurs. Drunkenness. etc.
17 Occurrences (3 Fires)
64 Vagrancy

363 Total

41 Prisoners apprehended by Police on charges of other Individuals
167 Prisoners apprehended by Police on their own charges

208 Total

Of the 167 Prisoners129 were convicted of offences 38 were discharged on reprimand and conviction. etc.

On 14th June. 1838, the Committee dismissed a proposition that a reduction of £200 in their expenditure annually should be effected by dismissing five members of the Force and adopting a supernumerary force of seven at 3/- each per week, but in March, 1839, the Committee was obliged to yield to the pressure brought to bear, and agreed to the Police Force being reduced by two men. This was effected by a vacancy not being filled, and a constable being given a month’s notice.

In October, 1838. the Committee ordered “that the room under the Circular Stair case near the Conqueror’s Hotel at St. Leonards be hired at £4 per annum for a Watch house”.


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