The First Police Force

  • 20 Feb 2023
  • Crime and Legal
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Under the Worcester Improvement Act of 1823, which dealt with the lighting, paving and watching of the City, eight watchmen were appointed to work in parishes, all operating from the Watch House which was adjoined to City Gaol in Union Street, under the direction of the Gaol Governor, William Griffiths, who regarded his post, somewhat sincere, and the arrangement was, as might be expected, ineffective. In 1830, the parish idea was given up, and the City was dived into four districts with a 'Surveyor' in charge of each district, to superintend  the watchmen and to receive charges, but it did nor last long.

When Sir Robert Peel instituted the Metropolitan Police Force in 1829, it created opposition in some quarters, who considered it a military force raised to oppress those advocating political reforms. The great benefit of a police force was seen clearly in Worcester, where in 1833, it was decided to remodel the Watch and create a Police Force on the Metropolitan pattern, and Henry Sharpe, a sergeant in the London Police, was brought in. All but two of the old watchmen were discharged, and the force made up with 11 new watchmen - constables.  Sergeant Sharpe took up residence at the Watch House in Union Street, as Head Constable.

Sir Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850)

After the establishment of a police force in 1833, the police still received rough treatment on occasions. At the Cock Inn, Cripplegate, in that year, there was a vicious attack on Superintendent Sharpe and two constables, when Sharpe received wounds to the head and his recovery was doubtful. He did recover, and two of his assailants received long prison sentences.