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1844, The Sydney Police - Unfit For Publication
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The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 28 Mar 1844  1

THE SYDNEY POLICE

I

The fact that burglaries within this City have recently been on the increase has naturally attracted a good deal of attention, amongst the intelligent householders, to the question, whether the establishment of our Municipal Police, in point of numerical strength, of administrative arrangements, and of general efficiency, is adequate to the present magnitude and circumstances of the population. Upon this question we have bestowed some though, and have instituted as much enquiry as our means permitted; for it is a question in which all our fellow-citizens have a serious stake. It concerns the security of their property, the peace of their families, and the safety of their persons. Too much attention, therefore, cannot be bestowed upon it by those to whom the citizens look up for the guardianship of their corporate interests. The Government, the civic functionaries, and the city press, are bound to exercise over the whole machinery of police a strict and untiring vigilance. We have before us a variety of documents relating to this subject. Amongst them are, the “Report of the Special General Commission of the City Council, on the Police of Sydney,” printed towards the close of last year the “Police Regulations for the Town of Sydney,” established, by authority of Governor Macquarie, on the 1st of January, 1811; Criminal Returns and Police Statistics connected with some of the principal cities and boroughs in Great Britain and Ireland; and returns collected from divers sources.

The Police Regulations of Governor Macquarie comprised in a lucid code of eight sections, and each section methodically subdivided into paragraphs, will bear an advantageous comparison with any of the more elaborate and complicated codes established by subsequent authorities. In phraseology they are clear and concise; in classification, exact and beautiful; every man’s duty, through all the intermediate grades between the head of the department and the petty constable, are explicitly defined; in short, they exhibit a well-compacted system of police administration, at once creditable to the skill of its framer, and highly advantageous to the community for whose benefit it was introduced. The effective strength of the town police, as defined on the 1st day of January, 1811, not including the clerical branch of the department, was 37; the town population at the same date being about 2,000. The proportion was therefore nearly 2 policemen (1⋅85) to each hundred of the population, or 1 to 54. This extraordinarily large proportion, without a parallel in the mother-country, or even in any subsequent period of the history of Sydney, is to be accounted for, partly by the large number of convicts whom it was necessary to control, and partly by the good old Governor’s unlimited access to the British Treasury. He had unruly elements to control, and ample resources for the execution of his task.

Our sources of information on this head, throughout the seventeen years following the date of Macquarie’s regulation, are not such as would enable us to institute an accurate comparison between the strength of the police and the amount of population. Passing on to the census of 1828, we find that the Sydney Police then amounted to 75, and the population to 10,800; the proportion being 1 to 144.

The next census was taken in the year 1833, when the town police numbered 102, and the town population 16,200; the proportion being 1 to 159.

At the census of 1836, the police, exclusive of eight constables employed in the outskirts of the town, amounted to 147, and the population to 19,700; the proportion being 1 to 134, or considerably larger than the preceding period.

But between 1836 and our latest census, in 1841, the proportion had become considerably less. The police force (not including that for the out-stations), was then only 114, while the population was 30,000; the proportion being only 1 to 263.

The numerical strength of the Police has, however, since the last mentioned period, been still further crippled, for the present establishment is only 88, including all ranks except the clerical. What the present population may be, we are not prepared to state; but taking it to be no more than it was at the last census, three years ago, the proportion of police is only 1 to 341.

To give a bird’s-eye view of the proportion between the police force and the population of the town, at the several periods we have now been noticing, we subjoin the following table:– 

 

Sydney Population and Police 1811-1844

 

Year

 

Population

 

Police

 

Police in proportion to each 1,000 of the population

 

1811

1828

1833

1836

1844

 

.............. 2,000

........... 10,800

........... 16,200

........... 19.700

........... 30,000

 

........ 37

........ 75

...... 102

...... 147

........ 88

 

....................................................... 18.50

......................................................... 6.94

......................................................... 6.30

......................................................... 7.46

......................................................... 2.93

 

By this table, the reader will be enabled to appreciate in a moment the very serious extent to which our police force has been abridged. To say nothing of the vigorous proportion kept up by Governor Macquarie, the average of the three periods preceding the present year was upwards of 6 policemen (6.23) to each thousand of the population; whilst the average at the present moment is less than 3 to each thousand. The falling-off is, therefore, more than one-half, or about 53 per cent!

How far this immense reduction admits of justification, consistently with the peace and security of the City, and with the standards furnished by the police establishments of the mother country, we shall enquire hereafter.

(To be continued.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 30 Mar 1844  2

THE SYDNEY POLICE

II

We showed in our former article, that the effective strength of our police establishment in Sydney, at the three periods of 1828, 1833 and 1836, averaged, in proportion to the population, 1 to 144; that at the census of 1841, it had dwindled down to 1 in 263; and that at the present time, even assuming the population not to have increased during the last three years, the proportion is only 1 to 341. In other words, the average of the first-named periods was upwards of 6 policemen to each thousand of the population, while the present average is less than 3 to each thousand, being a diminution of more than supplied by the police establishments of the United Kingdom, and see how far they will justify or condemn the establishment of Sydney.

The eight principal cities and boroughs of Dublin, Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, and Manchester, comprise a population of 1,575,955 souls, and a police force of 3,377, all ranks included. This is in the ratio of 1 to 467, or 2⋅14 in each thousand, being about one-third less than the ratio of Sydney. At a cursory glance, the fact thus put would seem to indicate that the effective strength of the Sydney police is even more than enough; but it must be remembered, that in questions of police it is essential to consider, not only the numbers of population, but its character. Nothing can be more self-evident, than that a peaceful and virtuous community would require a much smaller police force than a turbulent and vicious one of the same extent. Hence we find that in the eight municipalities above enumerated, the proportion of police to population ranges from the low point of 1 in 854 to the high point of 1 in 233, and that it rises or falls according as crime is more or less prevalent.

To the state of crime therefore must we look, and not to the mere numbers of population, in order to form a rational judgement as to the sufficiency of our police.

The number of persons taken into custody in one year (1841) by the police of Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Leeds, Glasgow, and Manchester,* 3  was 63,124. This fact must be regarded as an index to the actual work performed by the police—as a statistical summing-up of their year’s business. If such, then, was the amount of labour performed, let us next enquire how many labourers were deemed necessary for its performance? The police force consisted of 1,867 men, all ranks included; which is at the rate of 1 policeman to 34 apprehensions. This, then, is the British standard of the proportion which the number of police labourers should bear to the extent of police business. The proportions in the several towns, it is true, differ considerably. For example, in Leeds it is 1 policeman to 17 apprehensions, whilst in Glasgow it is only 1 to 49, these being the extreme points in the scale. But the mean of the whole, 1 to 34, may be employed as a fair standard whereby to test the efficiency of our Sydney force. For this purpose, let us see what extent of labour is performed by that force.

In the year of 1843, the number of cases in which the Sydney police were employed amounted in all to 8,622. That is, taken into custody, 7,232, and summonses 1,430. We take this, then, as the amount of their current work. Their effective strength, all ranks included, has been shown to be 88; which give the proportion of 1 policeman to 98 apprehensions. Compared with the British standard, this proportion exhibits a forlorn and a highly discreditable aspect. Take the highest, the lowest, and the mean, in the establishments of the United Kingdom:— 

 

 

Highest—Leeds................... 1 to 17

Highest—Sydney................. 1 to 98

Deficiency of Sydney............ 81

 

Lowest—Glasgow............... 1 to 49

Lowest—Sydney................. 1 to 98

Deficiency of Sydney............ 49

 

Mean average—England.... 1 to 34

Mean average—Sydney...... 1 to 98

Deficiency of Sydney............ 64

 

It is a curious fact, that the number of apprehensions to each policeman in Sydney, as compared with the largest in England, is precisely Double! It is shown above, that in Glasgow it is 49, and in Sydney 98.

The deplorable inefficiency of our establishment may be illustrated in several other ways. Taking the number of police employed in each 100 cases, the results will be as follows:—

 

 

Leeds.......... 5.73

Sydney........ 1.00

Deficiency.. 4.73

 

Police to each 100 cases

Police to each 100 cases

 

Glasgow..... 2.00

Sydney....... 1.00

Deficiency. 1.00

 

Police to each 100 cases

Police to each 100 cases

 

British average.... 2.96

Sydney............... 1.00

Deficiency........... 1.96

 

It thus appears, that the effective strength of our Sydney Police, as compared with the standards of the mother country, is nearly four-fifths below the highest, just one-half below the lowest, and (within a bare fraction) just Two Thirds Below the Average.

(To be continued.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 2 Apr 1844  4  

THE SYDNEY POLICE

III

On Saturday, we showed the very great inferiority of the police force of Sydney to that of large towns in the mother-country, as regards the proportion between the numbers of police and the numbers of cases dealt with, the proportion in Sydney being two-thirds below the British average.

The data from which this result was derived will enable us to compute, with equal precision, what the numerical strength of our police establishment ought to be. We have seen that in six of the principal towns of the United Kingdom the number of police cases in one year was 63,124, when the effective strength of their police was 1867; and that the number of such cases in Sydney, during the year 1843, was 8662. The question then is, if 63,124 cases required a police force of 1867, what force would 8662 cases require? The answer is 256; and the comparison between what our force is, and what, by British precedent, it ought to be, stands thus:—

The Sydney police force ought to be.............................. 256

Actually is...................................................................... 88

Deficiency.................................................................... 168

And even if we take the smallest police force in the kingdom—the smallest, that is, in proportion to the number of cases—we shall find that our force is only half what it ought to be by that standard. Glasgow had only 299 policemen to 14,768 cases; in the same ratio, the police force of Sydney would be 175, or 87 more than the existing establishment.

But in such questions as those we are now considering, the mere number of cases is not the only, nor the most important criterion. The general character of the population must be taken into account, in order that we may judge the vigilance and activity required of the guardians of the public peace. For in proportion as the number of delinquents is large or small in relation to the numbers of the community, is the degree of police surveillance under which the community should be placed; in other words, the greater the extent to which the number of good citizens preponderates over that of the bad, the greater is the society’s power of self-protection, and the less its dependence on the protection of the constabulary. Now, in the six British towns already referred to, the 63,000 cases dealt with by the police occurred in an aggregate population of 1,133,000 souls, which is at the rate of about one in eighteen; whereas, the 8662 cases dealt with last year by the police of Sydney, occurred in a population of only 30,000 souls, which is at the rate of about one in 3½. We are sorry to arrive at the result to which this comparison so significantly points, for it would seem to warrant the very humiliating conclusion that the delinquency of the Australian metropolis, as regards the relative numbers of delinquents, is about five-fold greater than that of the large cities of the United Kingdom. We would fain hope that such is not the positive fact; certainly we have always hitherto indulged the belief that, in point of public decorum and tranquility, [sic] Sydney might challenge comparison with any seaport town in England. We have therefore dissected the returns with the minutest accuracy, with a wish to discover some admissible ground for extenuating this startling contrast. The police cases of Sydney, in the year 1843, consisted to three classes:—

Ordinary apprehensions................................................................................ 5985

Convicts, or suspected convicts, dealt with, at Hyde Park Barracks................... 1336

Summonses................................................................................................. 1430

Total............................................................................................................ 8662

This softens the picture a little, and but a little. The convict cases were 1 in 22½ of the population; the summonses, 1 in 2½; and the ordinary cases, which perhaps bear the strictest analogy to those specified in the British returns, were 1 in 5. Thus we are still brought to a very mortifying conclusion; for even putting the convict and summons cases aside, we find that the ordinary cases of persons taken into custody by the Sydney Police, are three and a half fold more numerous, in proportion to the population, than the parallel cases in the towns of England!

But we have dissected the returns further, hoping to find that though our number of cases is so large, the character of the offences is at least not so bad. But, alas! even here we are sadly disappointed, the comparisons being yet more and more to the disadvantage of Sydney. The following columns will tell their own discreditable table:— 

 

 

 

 

Manchester with a population

of 235,000

 

Sydney with a population

of 30,000

 

Murder

 

19 being

 

1 in.........

 

.. 12,368

 

11 being

 

1 in.........

 

....... 2,727

 

Rape

 

4 being

 

1 in.........

 

.. 58,750

 

3 being

 

1 in.........

 

..... 10,000

 

Sodomy

 

2 being

 

1 in.........

 

117,500

 

3 being

 

1 in.........

 

..... 10,000

 

Burglary

 

26 being

 

1 in.........

 

.... 9,038

 

29 being

 

1 in.........

 

....... 1,034

 

Robbery

 

122 being

 

1 in.........

 

.... 1,926

 

130 being

 

1 in.........

 

........... 216

 

Common Assault

 

779 being

 

1 in.........

 

....... 302

 

413 being

 

1 in.........

 

............. 73

 

Drunkenness

 

1629 being

 

1 in.........

 

....... 144

 

3300 being

 

1 in.........

 

............... 9

 

The number of known bad characters in Manchester, who live entirely or principally by stealing, is 372, or 1 in 632 of the population; the number of similar characters in Sydney is 60, or 1 in 500. And it is a somewhat remarkable confirmation of the substantial accuracy of our estimate of the police force required for Sydney, taking as our datum the proportion of cases dealt with to population, that this proportion of known bad characters would, according to the Manchester standard, require about the same number; that is to say, the proportion of cases would require a police force of 256, and the proportion of bad characters would require 251.

It is curious to reflect upon the amount of money that must pass, in the course of the year, through the hands of these sixty vagabonds, and upon the extent of robbery that must be committed to support this expenditure. Suppose they spend only twenty shillings per week each, that amounts to £3120 per annum; and as stolen property does not sell for more than a fourth of its value, it follows, that the inhabitants of Sydney are systematically pilfered, by this fixed establishment of thievery, at the rate of some £12,000 or £13,000 per annum!

 


1  The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 28 Mar 1844, p. 2.

2  The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 30 Mar 1844, p. 2.

3  * These are only six out of the eight towns before mentioned, the returns for the other two being incomplete.

4  The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 2 Apr 1844, p. 2. Emphasis added.