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Access to Police records
Access to some police records is restricted as many of them contain sensitive information about individuals. It is advisable to contact the Record Office in advance of a visit, to ensure that the records can be made available for consultation in our public searchrooms.
A history of the Police in Glamorgan
The origins of the contemporary police force lie in the earlier administrative system of the parish. A constable (one of the parish officers) was appointed by the vestry (the governing body of the parish) to keep the peace and to arrest anyone found disturbing it. The position was full-time and unpaid.
Industrial development and the sudden growth in urban population, however, meant that the Parish Constables became increasingly unable to cope. In 1829 the Metropolitan Police Act was passed to aid law enforcement in the London area. Provision was then made in the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 to enable boroughs to establish their own police forces, and with the County Police Act of 1839, rural areas were able to follow suit.
In 1836, borough police forces were set up in Cardiff, Neath and Swansea. Merthyr Borough followed in 1908. For the parts of Glamorgan not covered by the borough forces it was decided, in 1839, that a trial force be set up. This consisted of six officers appointed under one superintendent, and initially covered only Miskin Lower and Caerphilly. Based on its success, the decision was taken in 1841 to establish a new police force to cover the whole of the county, called the Glamorgan Constabulary. The borough forces and the Glamorgan Constabulary continued side by side until the establishment of the South Wales Police Authority in 1969.
Glamorgan Constabulary (DCON)
The Glamorgan Constabulary was the largest police force in the area, covering the former county of Glamorgan. Initially the force was divided into four districts for administrative purposes; Merthyr, Newbridge, Ogmore and Swansea. In 1911 following a major restructuring, eight police divisions were established, each with its own divisional headquarters. Minor alterations were periodically made to this structure. In particular, the Neath Division was added in 1947 when the Borough police force was disbanded and became part of the Glamorgan Constabulary.
Structure of Glamorgan Constabulary 1911-1969
- A - Aberdare
- B - Pontypridd
- D - Neath/Port Talbot
- E - Barry Dock
- F - Treharris/Ystrad Mynach
- G - Ton Pentre
- H - Gowerton
- N - Neath (from 1947)
Borough Police Forces
The Borough Police forces were established following the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. They were set up and administered separately, until their amalgamation into the South Wales Police Authority in 1969.
- Cardiff Borough Police Force (DCONC): In January 1836, Cardiff Borough Council appointed a Watch committee, for the purpose of establishing and administering the Cardiff Borough Police force. Jeremiah Box Stockdale, a London policeman, was appointed the first Superintendent. By 1922 the force had 302 officers assigned to four divisions, covering the following stations:
- A - Central (Law Courts), Docks, (Bute St.)
- B - Canton (Cowbridge Rd.), Grangetown (Clive St.)
- C - Roath (Clifton St.), Cathays (Crwys Rd.), Moors (Janet St.)
- D - Headquarters (Law Courts)
- Merthyr Borough Police Force (DCONMT): Merthyr Tydfil became a County Borough in 1908 and established its own Borough Police force in the same year. Before that date, the Merthyr area was part of Division A of the Glamorgan Constabulary. The new force was provided with three main stations at Merthyr, Dowlais and Merthyr Vale, and 85 police officers were appointed.
- Neath Borough Police Force: In February 1836 the Neath Borough Police force was established, and David Protheroe appointed as its first and only policeman. The force gradually increased in size and by 1926 there were a total of forty men. Because of its limited size, it was amalgamated with the Glamorgan Constabulary in 1946 and its officers transferred to that body. The Glamorgan Record Office holds records from 1869-1942. (DCON/136-146)
- Swansea Borough Police Force: Swansea Borough Police force was established in 1836. By 1852, there were two sergeants, 2 detective officers and sixteen constables working with Henry Tate, the acting inspector. (Records relating to Swansea Borough Police Force are held by West Glamorgan Archive Service, Swansea)
Police Force Records
|Registers of constables||c.1890||1862-1917|
These records were created by the police themselves, and give information about the running of the police station, the policemen's duties and other issues affecting the force. They include:
- · Minutes and Reports, 1915-1936, in which decisions regarding the forces were taken, and reported to the various committees
- · General Orders and Circulars, 1869-1969
- · Orders of the Chief Constable, 1876-1969 (DCONC/2/1,2)
- · Police Station Journals and Occurrence books, 1860-1969, which record the day-to-day running of the station, and the crimes perpetrated in that area
- · Policemen's notebooks, 1846-1935, which detail events taking place during a policeman's shift, or when out on the beat
When the forces were established, they soon started compiling records in order to monitor their staff. These records include:
- · Registers of Constables, 1837-1917, which give detailed personal information about individuals in the force
- · Personnel files, 1920s-1969, in which more detailed information about members of the force can be found (Access to these documents is restricted.)
- · Application forms, c.1863-1921, of men wishing to join the Glamorgan Constabulary (DCON/2)
- · Swearing-in book', 1841-1921, which records the swearing-in of all constables joining the Glamorgan Constabulary (DCON/1)
The main function of the police force was to solve crimes and catch criminals; these records are full of information on local crimes and local criminals:
- · Crime Registers, 1933-1940, which give information about the prisoner, the crime and the date and result of trial (DCONC/1/1/1-10)
- · Fingerprint and Photographic Registers, 1904-1933, containing information about the result of the trial, in addition to the date of fingerprinting and a photograph of the accused (DCONC/3/2/1-7)
- · Charge books, 1858, 1859, which include the name of the person charged and details of the offence (DCONC/3/3)
Another function of the local police force was to enforce licensing laws. Registers were kept, recording the granting of licenses to local hostelries and also when licensing laws were broken.
- · Plans of licensed premises, (DCONC/6/1)
- · Licensing records of alehouses, beerhouses, grocers, dog racing, lodging houses and moneylenders, 1882-1965 (DCONC/7/1-8)
- · Registers of alehouse licenses, 1960-1968, a list of persons licensed to sell alcohol, and also a list of their offences (DCONMT/8)
- · Records relating to investigations - including: DCON/289/3 Llandow Air Disaster, 1950 and DCON/289/4 Aberfan Disaster, 1966
- · Plans for the erection of police stations and police houses, 1848-1951
- · Photographs, miscellaneous photographs of groups of officers, police stations and police training (SWPA)
- · Scrapbooks and newscuttings, 1889-1969, of general law and order matters and those relating directly to the police
- · Correspondence and diaries belonging to Lionel Lindsay, the Chief Constable of Glamorgan from 1891-1937 (DCONC/74-82)
Indexes to the some of the records have been produced, in particular for personnel records and registers of constables. Indexes are available for the following documents and series:
- Glamorgan Constabulary
- · Swearing-in book, 1841-1892 (DCON/1)
- · Police application forms & testimonials, c. 1863-1921 (DCON/2)
- · Registers of police, c.1890 (DCON/3) (indexing ongoing)
- · Birthplace of members to 12 June 1923 (DCON/4)
- · List of Pensioners (DCON/5)
- · Personnel files, surname index available
- Borough Police Forces: Personnel files for:
- · Cardiff Borough (DCONC/11)
- · Merthyr Tydfil Borough (DCONMT/12)
- · Neath Borough (DCONN/5)
- Records of the South Wales Police Authority: In 1969, the Glamorgan Constabulary and the Borough Police Force merged to form the South Wales Police Authority, and were administered and maintained from one central headquarters in Bridgend. The records that we hold include:
- · Minutes, Reports and agendas, 1996-2000 (2000/104)
- · Annual Reports, 1996-1997 (CC)
The following books and articles concerning the history of the police and crime are available for consultation in the Glamorgan Record Office library:
- David T. Hawkings, Criminal Ancestors. A Guide to Historical Criminal Records in England and Wales, 1996
- David J.V. Jones, Crime in 19th Century Wales, 1992
- David J.V. Jones, Crime and Policing in the 20th Century: the South Wales Experience, 1996
- E.R. Baker, The beginnings of the Glamorgan County Police Force in Glamorgan Historian volume 2, 1965
- Eira M. Smith, Merthyr Tydfil Borough Police, 1908-1938 in Merthyr Historian, volume 4, 1989
- Glen A. Taylor, History of Neath Borough Police Force, in Neath Antiquarian Society Transactions 2nd series, volume 9, 1939
- Police History Society, Journal and Newsletter. 1994-997
Additional information about the police can be found in the records of the Quarter Sessions, County Council and Borough Councils. This is because of the involvement of the local authorities in the administration of the police forces.
© Glamorgan Record Office, Cardiff, Wales.