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Parramatta 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 9th of June 1835.
Samuel Wright, Esq, Police Magistrate at Parramatta,

brought in and examined:
The Parramatta district extends from Best’s farm (Wiseman Road) on the north, to Lansdowne Bridge on the south, a distance of twenty two miles, and from Haslams Bridge on the east to Deans inn on the west, fourteen miles. The circumference of the district is about eight miles. Its population amounts to between five and six thousands persons.
The present police force is composed of one chief constable, one assistant chief constable, eighteen ordinary constables and one scourger. Of the constables, one is stationed at Kissing Point, one at Duval, one at the junction of the Windsor and North roads, one at Prospect and one at Concord.
The constables at Kissing Point and Concord act also as lock-up keepers at these places. Two more are employed at Parramatta, one as lock-up keeper, and the other as office keeper, and in charge of the Records. The scourger is a prisoner-of-the crown; and exclusively employed as such. This distribution leaves one chief constable, one assistance chief constable, and eleven ordinary constables for the duties of the town of
Parramatta and the rest of the district.

The principal and heaviest duties are escorts to and from Windsor, Penrith, Liverpool and Sydney especially, serving summonses and subpoenas from the Supreme Court and the Court of Quarter Sessions, and the nightly watch in the town.
I think the cases brought before the Parramatta Bench amount to sixty a week on an average, and seven out of ten are convict cases.
I consider that five additional constables are required; four for the town of Parramatta, and one for the district of the Field of Mars, besides the one now stationed there; as this district is very populous, one constable is not sufficient for it. The greatest distance that suitors or complaintants have to travel to the Parramatta Bench does not exceed fourteen miles.
Six unpaid magistrates reside in the district, three of whom are regular in their attendance at the Bench on Saturdays, which is our Bench days.
I hold a police court daily; and, whenever the assistance of a second magistrate is necessary, it is to be had without any difficulty.

The salary of the clerk of the Bench is £150 a-year. He is also the registrar of the Court of Requests. His duties of clerk to the Bench are so heavy that he is obliged to provide an
assistant at his own expense to enable him to perform them.
From three to five troopers of the mounted police are generally stationed in the district; they are never employed on any but police duties, and then only when required to act at a

Difficulty is always experienced in procuring suitable men for constables; amongst those employed I find ticket-of-leave men as efficient as any, but I prefer free immigrants of sober habits, and steady natives, for the office.
My salary as police magistrate is £300 a-year, without any allowance.
It is, I think, necessary to add that the jail at Parramatta is a very old and ruinous building; so much so that I am of opinion that a heavy fall of rain of no very long continuance would be sufficient to bring it down. It contains three rooms: two for males, and one (in a separate yard) for females. The rooms for male prisoners do not afford space enough for more than sixty, yet I have known considerably more than one hundred to be crowded into them at the same time. Its very great insecurity is another strong objection to this jail. To remedy this evil, a military guard is now necessary from which one sentry is obliged to be posted within it, and another on the outside.
The watch house has hitherto been too small, but an additional room is now being built, which will afford sufficient accommodation for some years to come. “

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