Bathurst 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 of June 1835
A. K. McKenzie, Esq, J. P, brought in and examined:
In the police district of Bathurst, are included the counties of Roxburgh, Georgiana, Bathurst, Wellington, Bligh, and Phillip; the population may be estimated at four thousand.
I think the present police force of the district consists of one chief constable, ten constables, one of whom is stationed at the distant post of Capita, and one scourger.
The jail at Bathurst is not capable of holding more than twelve prisoners, although I have known it as many as twenty or thirty crowded into it at one time. On more mature consideration, the jail will, I believe, contain a few more prisoners than I have stated. There is a factory, with cells, for female prisoners.
The jail is a brick building, and very insecure. There is no lock-up or watch house in any other part of the district, that I am aware of, but I think a watch house has been ordered on the other side of the Macquarie.
The weekly average of cases at the Bathurst Bench is from forty to fifty, and four-fifths at least are convict cases.
I consider, that the present police force should be doubled.
Many of the settlers in the Bathurst district have so far to travel to the Bench that they decline bringing in their assigned servants to trial for most offences: This remark more particularly applies to settlers at Wellington, where I strongly recommend that a police
magistrate should be stationed, as well as one at Mudgee, whence we have the greatest number of complaints at present.
I consider it also indispensable that a police magistrate should be stationed at the southern part of the district, but I have not sufficient local information in that direction to say where this station should be.
A paid magistrate is also much wanted at Cox’s river.
There are at present residing in our district, ten unpaid magistrates, seven of whom regularly attend the bench in turn.
The clerk of the Bench has a salary of £90 a-year, he is also the registrar of the Court of Requests, Coroner, Postmaster and Government auctioneer for the district, but I am not aware of the income he receives from those appointments.
A party of mounted police is stationed in the district, consisting of one officer, two serjeants and twenty privates, and I strongly recommend that ten more men be added to that number, as we are now frequently without a single man in barracks. I am not aware that the mounted police are ever employed on any but police duty.
The constables serve summonses from the Supreme Court and the Court of Requests; some of them are always employed on escort duty, as far as Penrith; there are no places for security for prisoners between Bathurst and Penrith except the two stockades.
We find great difficulty in our district, in procuring fit men for constables, and I am of the opinion, that this difficulty is caused by the low rate of pay which constables receive at present.
The police magistrate at Bathurst receives a salary of £300 a-year, with quarters, he has no other allowance that I am aware of.
I would strongly recommend that the mounted police should be made a permanent and stationary force, as great loss and injury to the public have accrued from changing stations of those who had become acquainted with the localities of the district and had thus
become more efficient.
Overseers who will do their duty are much wanted in the ironed gangs, and on the road parties – they do little work.