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Staffordshire Police Defaulter's Register, 1857-1886 and 1904-1923

Background

In the nineteenth century police officers were expected to lead exemplary lives, not only in terms of their professional conduct, but also in their private lives. Little distinction was made between the two.

In the early part of the nineteenth century there was a great deal of resistance to the establishment of local police forces in England, as a police force was seen as a costly, and potentally oppressive, arm of the state. The aim of the state in establishing police forces was not merely the apprehension of criminals, but also to exercise social control over the streets by maintaining a frequent police presence there. In this context the good character and good behaviour of individual police officers was absolutely essential in maintaining moral superiority.

About the Defaulters' Register

The Defaulters Register, 1857-1886 and 1904-1923, contains information about disciplinary offences committed by members of Staffordshire Constabulary. They do not cover any of the separate borough police forces also active during this period.

There is a surprisingly high number of offences during this period. This is probably due to the fact that a large number of the offences would be thought today to be fairly trivial in nature. Who, now, would object to a police officer reading the works of Aristotle out loud to his landlady, even if some of the content was risqué? Many of the offences recorded relate to police officers' over familiarity with undesirable elements of society, such as prostitutes, or to the abuse of alcohol.

About this index

This index is to the Staffordshire Constabulary Defaulters Register (Staffordshire Record Office, C/PC/15/1/1 and C/PC/29), covering the period 1857 to 1886 and 1904 to 1923. If you know the whereabouts of the intervening register (1886 to 1904), we would be pleased to hear from you.

A successful search in the index will provide year, month, surname, forename and page number. If you choose to order a transcript you will also get the police district in which the officer was stationed, the nature of the offence, the punishment awarded, and the name of the disciplining officer.