Australian Police

Australian Police

The Thin Blue Line – Australian Police

The Beginning of the C.I.B.


– In The Beginning –

The first Detective was a Jewish convict, Israel Chapman, who had been transported for highway robbery. Chapman arrived in Sydney in 1818 from England. The following year he gained the position of Chief Wardsman of the Prisoner’s Barracks in Hyde Park, and continued in that office for about eighteen months. He next served as a Constable and principal overseer at the Lumber Yard and as a result of his excellent work there was granted a conditional pardon on 21st November, 1821. He then entered the Sydney Police for a short time, being dismissed early in 1822. Chapman petitioned the Colonial Secretary and submitted several character references from other colonists. Thus Chapman was reinstated sometime in 1823 0r 1824. The Constable applied himself to his job and quickly earned himself a reputation as a diligent and capable man. Although he was a constable, the role he pursued was that of a detective and he was soon well known to Sydney’s underworld characters. His active and faithful service earned him an Absolute Pardon in 1827. It is evident Chapman was a good detective for on several occasions he effectively disguised himself and successfully apprehended offenders without having been recognised. Because of the hard work and low pay, Chapman resigned in 1827. His value was recognised by the government and he was re-appointed to the Sydney Police in the new position of Police Runner, with an annual salary of 100 pounds. Being stationed in George Street police office, he became known as the George Street Runner. Chapman resigned in 1828 and decided to return to England. Whilst there he re-married, his first wife having died. He returned to Sydney in March, 1833, and once again joined the Sydney Police, this time as one of the six Wardsmen. He was promoted to Conductor in 1835 and finally held the position of Inspector. His last position was with the police at Campbelltown, where he served for several months and then retired permanently.

There is very little written in the archives of Detectives between the 1840’s and 1862. On the information of the New South Wales Police Department in 1862, a Detectives Force was established as part of the Foot Police. The Officer in Charge was Sub-Inspector Charles Edward Harrison and his staff of twelve were:

First Class Detectives:

Christopher Carnes               Registered number:  1587       Born:  England in 1815
William Camphin
Alexander Thomas Scott     Registered number:    982       Born:  Ireland in 1837
Patrick Lyons                         Registered number:  4628      Born:  Ireland in 1859
George Scarlett
Charles Downham

Second Class Detectives:

Richard Elliott
William Clarke
John Rolston
Jason Swainson
Alexander R. McMartin
John Sanderson
The newly formed Detectives were mostly involved in tracing missing persons, usually at the written request of relatives from England. Many of these inquiries evolved into murder investigations, the deceased having come to this country in search of gold and being ‘done to death’ on some lonely track in the New South Wales outback.
The Wild Colonial Days also saw the Detectives despatched to the country areas to assist the mounted troopers in the search of the infamous ‘Bushrangers’ Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner, Andrew Scott, Thunderbolt and the Kelly Gang when they crossed into our State. These gangs heralded a new era of violence, finding easy security from Police in the mountains of the Great Dividing Range and further west in the remote pastoral areas. Detectives and Uniformed Police spent many a difficult and dangerous day tracking and ridding these offenders from the country districts of New South Wales. On the 19th November, 1879, the Detectives of the New South Wales Police Department were formed into a separate Branch, the C.I.B.
Evidence of this is documented in the yearly return of the Inspector General of Police to the Premier and Colonial Secretary, Sir Henry Parkes.
The archives show the Criminal Investigation Branch comprised of a Detective Inspector and seventeen men, a greater portion of whom came to this country in 1855 from England as the result of a recruiting campaign from British Police Forces. Inspector Henry John Wager was the first Officer in Charge and was housed with his men in a double story building with the Inspector General of Police at 109 Phillip Street, Sydney. The New South Wales Police was seventeen years old when the Branch was formed.

Extract from The New South Wales Police Rules and Instructions, 1879.

Detectives will be selected from the ordinary Police Force and after having been employed on trial, during which time they will receive the pay of Ordinary Constables, if reported favourably of by the Officer in Charge, will be promoted to the Rank of third class Detective with pay at the rate of 2 shillings per day increase on that of a Constable first-class; and in due course, if recommended for zeal and efficiency will be further advanced. The rank of first class Detective will be equivalent to that of a Sergeant first class, in the General Police; second class Detective to a Sergeant second class and third class Detective to a Senior Constable. Nevertheless, candidates who from previous habits, experiences or other reasons, may appear to be particularly adapted for Detective Duties, will be taken on as supernumeraries without having served in the Police, and after due trial, promoted in the usual manner.
Detective Constables will correspond directly with the Inspector General, but will otherwise be under the orders of the Officer in Charge of Police of the District, Station or Division, where such Detectives may be on duty. In Sydney the Detectives will be under the charge of the Inspector who will report direct to the Inspector General.

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