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Argyle Police Force 1835 – Report


The following is a copy from the news report of the government inquiry into the conditions of the police services in Australia in 1835.

The Committee (consisting of the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney General, Mr Berry, H. H. M’Arthur, and Mr Bell ) was appointed to “..enquire into and report upon the establishment and strength of the Police Force and all it’s branches, to what extent it may be expedient to maintain it, and the expense it will occasion, and to enquire into the capacity and condition of the Gaols in the colony, and to report what additional buildings appear to be required, and the probably expense of providing them..” .

Tuesday 2nd June 1835.
Robert Fuller, Esq, J. P brought in and examined:

I have been nine years and upwards a Magistrate in Argyle.
For a greater part of that time I had the control of the Police in Inverary. Until within the last twelve months I had charge of the whole of the country south and east of Goulburn consisting of the County of St Vincent’s, and the eastern part of the County of Murray.
The population in the immediate vicinity of Inverary, amounts to between three hundred to four hundred persons, but the population of the districts of Murray and St.Vincents, and the country beyond them, is scattered over such an immense space, that it is impossible
to speak of it with any accuracy.
The present police force of Inverary (now called Bungonia) consists of two constables at 2 shilling 3 pence per diem, one scourger and one lock-up keeper at 2 shillings 9pence per diem.
The scourger and lock-up keeper are prisoners of the crown, one constable is free, and the other a ticket of leave holder.
There are also generally a non-commissioned officer and four privates of the mounted police stationed in the district, but all of these frequently out at the same time in pursuit of bush-
rangers, so that I have been occasionally obliged to place a man of my own in charge of their barracks.
There is a lock-up house at the old township of Inverary; it is a stone building of three years standing, and contains two rooms and one cell; one of the rooms is occupied by the keeper.
This house is not sufficiently large for the purpose intended, being incapable of containing more than seven or eight prisoners, while I have known as many as sixteen or eighteen prisoners for confinement at the same time. On such occasions, we have been obliged to use the solitary cell as a prison.
In addition to prisoners for trial before the Inverary Bench, prisoners, passing under escort from the southern counties for trial in Sydney, are confined here. This lock-up is two miles from the new court-house, in the new township of Bungonia, and is therefore exceedingly unsafe and inconvenient, as it occasions a division of the police force, and causes the prisoners to be taken so far for examination. I think that the materials of the present building, and the ground it stands upon, might be advantageously sold, so as to meet the expense of erecting a new one in the township, near the court-house.
The weekly average of cases at our Bench, is four or five; with the exception of about one fifth they are all convict cases.
The duties of the Bench are considerably lessened by the recent arrangement by which Captain McKellar, Mr Murray, of Lake George, and Mr Campbell, of Wingelow, are enabled to hold police courts in their own places, where a constable and scourger have been
respectively stationed. Previous to these appointments, I have occasionally to sit in Court four days in one week.
With the addition of a chief or district constable, I should think the present police force would be sufficient for the district itself; the greater part of the duty of constables consists in serving summons, subpoenas, and warrants from the Supreme Court and the Court of Quarter Sessions; and also in escorting prisoners, on which service they have frequently to trave a distance of forty-five miles. To render the police efficient, I think these travelling
duties should be otherwise provided for. If no alteration is to take place in this respect, we should require at least two additional constables, besides the chief constable before mentioned.
I am also of opinion that the mounted police now in the southern district should be augmented to double their number, to enable them to discharge their duties efficiently. Great benefit would no doubt be derived from extending the stations of this force by which means a more rapid communication would be kept up between the different detachments. Their efficiency would also be ensured by the frequent inspection of their officers. The mounted police are not now employed in serving processes from any civil court in my district.
The usefulness of this important force must always depend upon the knowledge they possess of the country in which they are employed, and their experience in the various duties which must devolve upon them. To accomplish these desirable objects, I should
beg to suggest that the mounted police be made a permanent colonial corps. The various robberies recently committed on the southern road evince the expediency of an early augmentation of the police force.
Suitors, in cases when two magistrates are required to adjudicate, have to travel a distance of sixty or seventy miles to our Bench; but many persons who used to formerly to come to our court, now prefer going to Goulburn, from the greater certainty they have of always finding two magistrates there.
There is only one unpaid magistrate in the district, and he very seldom attends the court. The clerk of the bench, at Inverary has a salary of £70 a-year, he is also the deputy postmaster of the district, from which office he derives an income of about five or
six pounds a year.
We find no difficulty in procuring proper men to fill the situation of constable either free or ticket of leave holders, but I conceive that no men can be procured at the present rates of
salary who will be found efficient, unless the supervision of a chief or district constable, whose pay should be so good as to induce a respectable man to hold the situation.
It is my opinion, that an absolute necessity exists for extending Police Courts, and that two should be established to the southward of Inverary; one of these should be at Limestone Plains, and the other in the County of St Vincent’s; near Captain McKellars
or between that and Mt Elrington; the latter would, I think, be preferable.
I consider it quite indispensable, that paid magistrates should be appointed to these stations.

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