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Maitland and Paterson 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..” .

Monday 1st of June 1835.
P.Laurentz Campbell, Esq, called in and examined;

I am Police Magistrate of the districts of Maitland and Paterson.
The former district is bounded by a line commencing at the Hunters river (about halfway between Maitland and Newcastle) and running southerly to the Sugar Loaf Mountain, thence by a line to the Twelve Mile Hollow on the Sydney Road, from whence it continues (along the road to the village of Wollombi and joins the Hunter, between the first and last named points, completes the boundaries of this district.).

Within These limits are comprised of three principal points.
1. The Government Township of Maitland (depending for its rise upon the erection of public building within it) and continuation thereof, called West Maitland, (where the mass of population is now congregated), and the village of Morpeth (at the head of the Hunter navigation), extend, linked together, for upwards of six miles along the great high road, to the interior, and necessarily form the nucleus of one of these towns likely to become rapidly of considerable importance in the colony.
The present population exceeds two thousand.

2.The Wollombi, comprising its own thickly set valley, the small farms on Eillalong, the cattle stations in the mountain ranges, and the retreats of squatters who have congregated on the northern creeks of the Hawkesbury, themselves short-sentence expirees, and their houses the resorts of runaways and the receptacle for stolen goods, forms a district of itself, in which (very centrically situated) is the village reserve.
2. The point where the great road crosses Black Creek, is about to become a lockup station; its neighbourhood is thickly peopled and I have little doubt that hereabouts a village will immediately arise.
The Population of the whole I should compute above four thousand.

The only public building, the property of the Government, now in use, is weatherboarded, and contains three apartments of about ten feet square each, one of these is occupied by the lock-p keeper, and other two are the wards intended, one for males and the other for females, but they neither allow this discrimation, nor afford the means of separating prisoners under preliminary examinations. Six solitary cells are being erected adjoining the lockup, but when upwards of double that number are sentenced to such punishment during almost every month, and those prisoners now sent to Newcastle to undergo the like, are kept five or six weeks awaiting vacancies, the females after all being generally three or four together, it will be seen that these avail but little, except as places as security for prisoners generally.

The Quarter Sessions and Court of Requests are held at Maitland, for the whole of the Hunters River district, including (besides Maitland) the districts of Newcastle, Port Stephens, Williams River, Paterson, Patricks Plains, Invermein, Merton, and Cassils, together with the western plains of Nandourri,Talbrager, Gammon and Bow, and the Company’s settlement beyond the Liverpool Range.
To Maitland, in the first instance, all prisoners for ironed gangs (sic) or Newcastle Jail are usually brought, hence my constables must escort them; if they be for trial they return at the sessions, and on conviction are again sent to Newcastle. The distance consequently that each prisoner, when convicted of felony, has unnecessarily travelled (by the jail and assize town being apart) amounts to nearly sixty miles; whereby the police have been harassed, the public peace endangered by the chances of escape, and the prisoners mightily amused.

At the time of the Quarter Sessions, including the prisoners for that Court, for Petty Sessions, and under escort, I have (in the two rooms before mentioned) been obliged to cram upwards of one hundred persons, male and female together, not being able, without endangering life, to close the doors, I have been compelled to fetter these criminals to the chain night and day, to prevent escape.
I think I may say there are generally eighty persons in custody for the Quarter Sessions. The ordinary number passing through the lock up may be thirty weekly.
The Police Court is now held in a rented store, situated about a mile from the lockup. The court-room is large, but the rest of the building is incommodious and inconvenient; there is no alteration it would admit of which could allow its permeant adoption to its present temporary use.
There are four unpaid magistrates; but only two of them attend the Bench with any regularity; one of the four lives eighteen miles off.

There is a Clerk of the Bench at Maitland who receives one hundred pounds a year, and enjoys no other office; his duties are odious, and require constant attention; he would be much relieved, and the public service benefited, were the office keeper to be salaried to an amount which would secure a person able to draw out forms and fill in summons and etc. This clerks salary is below that of the clerks at the other session towns, and I am convinced none have more, if much, to do.
There is a sergeant and three troopers of police at this station liable to be withdrawn from the district. This number I would recommend be increased by three, at least. Their barrack and stabling has just undergone a thorough repair, and is well placed.
I have no chief constable, but eight ordinary constables at two shillings and three pence a day for Maitland, and one at two shillings and three pence a day at Wollombi. There is a lock-up Keeper for Maitland at two shillings and ten pence a day, a scourger at one shilling and nine pence a day, and the office keeper at one shilling and one pence.
I receive, and am responsible for, the safe and speedy furtherance of all stores sent from Sydney to the upper districts.

The convict cases were two thirds less last month than they were some months ago. The free cases have increased.
The business of the bench, including the preliminary steps in felonies and misdemeanours, adjudicating under the Licensing, Slaughtering, Road and Impounding Acts principally, hearing Assault cases, and trying Convicts to the extent of their summary power, certainly average fifty cases a week. However, this is hardly a fair average when including the increase of misconduct during the Quarter Sessions and Court of Requests, when drunkenness occurring as the wool drays are in and about the town.
My individual duties are, of course, materially increased by the control of the constabulary, the carrying on of the correspondence, and the details of office. Indeed, the business of this town and its immediate neighbourhood is quite sufficient to employ every moment of my time, and a serious injury occurs to the public by being at any time withdrawn from immediate call; one reason for this is the means of ready escape afforded to offenders by the steam vessels. I have never yet passed two successive days without my presence being actually required; and on most occasions of my going to Paterson, I have also held a Court the same day at Maitland.
I may remark that a very large proportion of this population are free, whereby my presence is more constantly required to sign legal instruments to empower constables to act, than were the offending or suspected parties prisoners, and thereby amenable to immediate arrest. Again these many free cases require immediate adjustment, whereas prisoners await the fixed Petty Sessions.

I would beg to recommend that the Maitland district be bounded by a line commencing at the Hunter (between Maitland and Newcastle) where it does now, running in the same course to the Sugar Loaf, and from thence follow the course of the Black Creek to its mouth, leaving the same river boundary as before -which would in fact, include the Wollombi. To continue the Paterson duty would be impossible.
I beg to recommend the erection in this township, of a commodious jail and court house. At Morpeth, a permeant watch house and a police boat are required, and at West Maitland, a like building is absolutely necessary.
Police buildings are, of course, necessary at Wollombi.
Here I beg to suggest the appointment of a Chief Constable at four
shillings a day.
A Lockup keeper for each of the watch houses at three shillings a day viz, Maitland Township, West Maitland township, Morpeth township.
An Office Keeper at 3s 0d a day
4 Constables at Maitland 3s – ”
8 constables at Maitland 2s 6d ”
2 constables at Morpeth 2s 6d ”

At Wollombi I recommend the stationing of a party of mounted police, a lockup keeper, and three constables, and one scourger.
Present Establishment
1 lock up keeper 2s 10d a day
9 constables 2s 3d a day
1 office keeper 1s 9d a day
1 scourger 1s 9d a day
Proposed Establishment
1 chief constable 4s 0d a day
4 lockup keepers 3s 0d a day
1 officer keeper 3s 0d a day
4 constables each 3s 0d a day
13 constables 2s 6d a day
1 chief constable
3 lockup keepers
8 constables
1 scourger
The people at Wollombi are fifty miles from any bench.

The Paterson District commences at Nelsons Plains, on the Hunter River, and is bounded by a line along the dividing ranges of the Paterson and Williams’ rivers, the district runs back into the ranges from whence the Paterson and Allyn rivers rise, which ranges form a boundary until they terminate at the Hunter; from this point the course of that river to Nelsons Plains completes the out-line of the district.
The district is extensive and fertile: I cannot arrived with any certainty at a means of judging its population, which may amount to two thousand. it has the advantage of being appropriated to resident proprietors.
There are two unpaid magistrates who may be expected to attend the Bench with some regularity now the Court House is nearer their residences.

I hold Petty Sessions there once a fortnight. I regret to say, I am at times unavoidably absent, while I feel that the constabulary there are neither efficient in force or control.
This district and the country between it and the sea are occasionally shut out by the floods of the Hunter, which is peculiarly strong reason for their requiring a police force within them.
I propose, therefore, the stationing there of a detachment of mounted police.
Present Establishment
1 lockup keeper 2s 3d a day
6 constables each 2s 3d a day
1 scourger 1s 5d a day
Proposed Establishment
1 lockup keeper
1 chief constable
10 constables
1 scourger
1 chief constable
4 constables.

The clerk of the bench has a salary of ninety pounds a year, and receives about ten pounds additional as postmaster.

I have great difficulty in finding proper persons to fill the situation of constable in consequence of the expense and harassing nature of the escort duty they have to perform, and the pay being below what they can receive in prive services. I employ almost exclusively ticket of leave holders, these I prefer either to prisoners or short-sentence expirees, indeed I think both these latter highly objectionable.
The salary of the Police Magistrate of Maitland and Paterson was £150 a-year with a house, without any allowance for a horse, but I have lately received a communication officially informing me that I am to receive £50 in lieu of a house. I recommend that the official residence I now occupy be reserved for the Police Magistrate, and that the area about it which includes the police barrack and is required to be of sufficient extent for their horses, be defined and determined.
I have and am obliged to keep two horses and one will be absolutely necessary even though I retain but one district; my expenses for these, and the repairing my house exceed salary.

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