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Wollongong 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..” .

Wed.June 3rd 1835.
W.N.Gray, Esq., police magistrate, called in and examined:

The district of Wollongong extends from Bulli on the north to Shoalhaven River on the south, and from the sea to the range of mountains which bound Illawarra on the west.
The population of the district amounts to nine hundred and thirty persons. In consequence of there being no magistrate near the coast, to the south of my district, I am obliged to send mounted police and constables frequently as far to the southward as Bateman Bay.
The police in the district consist of two constables, at two shillings and three pence per diem, one scourger at one shilling per diem, and three mounted policemen, who have a soldier attached to them for the purpose of taking charge of their barracks.
There is a lock-up house now building at Wollongong, which is nearly finished, and will contain two rooms and a hall. There are three cells attached. There is also a court-house there, containing one court room, a room for the records and a room for the lock-up keeper, who is also the scourger. All these buildings are in one enclosure, surrounded by a twelve feet paling. The court-house is a brick building with a stone foundation. The lock-up is a strong log building also with a stone foundation. The average weekly cases at the Wollongong bench is about four, at which three-fourths are convict cases.

The great distance that the southern part of the district is from the Bench prevents many settlers from brining their servants to trial as frequently as they would do were they nearer. I consider that one half of the convict population of the district is at or near Shoalhaven; but, notwithstanding this circumstance, there have been only eight cases, from that part of the country, brought before the Bench within the last twelve months.
I am of the opinion, that in addition to the present police force of the district, one constable should be stationed at or near Shoalhaven River, and that a trustworthy person should be appointed lock-up keeper at Wollongong.
Suitors have to come to the Wollongong Bench fifty miles from places in the district; but some have also to come from as far as Bateman’s Bay.

About three years ago, it was usual for the Police Magistrate of Wollongong to hold a Police Court once a month at Kiama, but this custom has been discontinued since the departure of Mr Sleeman from the district. I, however, consider that it would be desirable to hold a court there occasionally now, or farther south, at a boat-harbour called Gerringong, which is within ten miles of the southern extremity of that district, and where there is a Government reserve for a village.
There are two unpaid magistrates in the Wollongong district who attend the Bench when required. The Clerk of the Bench has a salary of £90 a year; he acts likewise in the capacity of deputy-postmaster, from which he derives an income of about £10 a year. In addition to these, he holds the appointment of registrar to the Court of Requests, with a salary of £30 a year.
The mounted police are never employed in any but police duties.

I find no difficulty in obtaining as many fit persons to fill the situation of constable, as are required for the district. The present constables are free by servitude, and the scourger is a prisoner of the crown. I should have no objection to employ a prisoner of the crown as a constable occasionally with free men.
My salary as police magistrate is £150 a year, and I am allowed a house.
Wollongong is distant only seven miles from the northern, but fifty from the southern extremities of the district. The population of that part north of Wollongong amounts to sixty persons; the remained of the population of the district being to the southwards of it.

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