• Title
    Northamptonshire Police Force
  • Reference
  • Date
  • Date
    Early: 1806
    Late: 2013
  • Scope and Content
    The collection contains documents relating to all aspects of policing in the County. It includes items relating to both the Borough and County forces prior to their amalgamation in 1966. Of particular interest to those who are researching individual officers are service files and service registers
  • Exent
    Six hundred and ninety seven items
  • Archival history
    ARCHIVE HISTORY The collection was originally built up at the Wootton Hall Headquarters over a number of years by Richard Cowley, Northamptonshire police's archivist. Upon his death in 2016 it was decided that the archive needed a new home and to be preserved/properly listed. Discussions were held with NRO andthe collection was moved there for permanent storage in July 2017. The archive was catalogued and launched in June 2018. ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY Early policing across Northamptonshire and the rest of England had largely been based around a system of parish constables and watchmen who were largely volunteers and amateurs. The London Metropolitan Police Force was the first professional police force and was established in 1829. This introduced a new concept for policing where men were employed and paid as full time officers, in contrast to the previous system, and served as the model which newly established police forces around the country would follow. Up to 1966 there were two separate police forces in Northamptonshire – the Borough and County forces. NORTHAMPTON BOROUGH POLICE FORCE The Municipal Corporations Act was passed in 1835 and led to the establishment of Northampton Borough Council. The council appointed a sub-committee: The Watch Committee, which became responsible for the formation of a Borough Police Force for Northampton. Daventry and Higham Ferrers were also established as borough councils at this point and were allowed to set up their own police forces. The very first Northampton police station was in Dychurch Lane and moved to the old gaol building in Fish Street in 1845, which had the advantage of existing cells etc. It remained there until 1892 when it moved back to Dychurch Lane again. The Borough Police force, at its establishment in 1836, consisted of: 1 superintendent, 12 night constables and 12 day constables By 1857 it had become clear that more officers were required in order to keep control of the quickly growing population of the town and numbers were increased to: 1 chief constable, 2 inspectors, 3 sergeants and 26 constables By 1877, the staff levels had risen to 1 Chief Constable, 3 inspectors, 3 sergeants and 39 constables. By 1888 the establishment had risen to 60. A new police station was opened in Dychurch Lane in 1892. 1900 saw the boundaries of Northampton Borough extended to take in the suburbs and surrounding districts of the town. This placed a huge amount of strain upon the police force who were consequently granted another 26 men to deal with the increase in area and sub-stations were established St James, Far Cotton, Kingsthorpe and the Racecourse. With men being called up for service during the First World War a police reserve force was established, consisting of 200 residents who were sworn in as special constables. Four women constables were also appointed to the force in 1918, with a responsibility for dealing with matters relating to women and children. 1919 saw changes to police employment across the country with the Desborough Report and implementation of the Police Act, which increased pay and established the Police Federation. In 1926 during the General Strike a contingent of police officers were sent up to Hucknall Colliery, Nottinghamshire, where they stayed and worked for a month. By 1928, it was clear that larger premises were needed and an inspection by the Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Leonard Dunning, found the Dychurch Lane site inadequate. As a result the force’s certificate of efficiency was withheld and the old Northampton Prison site on the Mounts began to be developed by 1929. The police began to occupy the new station just before World War II broke out. The new site would be called Campbell Square. The first Road Traffic Act of 1930 led to the police beginning to introduce motor cycle patrols in 1930 and car patrols in 1932. A police box system was also introduced in Northampton around this period. The Second World War saw many new duties added to officer’s tasks on the Home Front such as enforcing the blackout and assisting with evacuees. In 1942 twenty four officers were allowed to join up and serve on the front, with 2 being killed. The 1950s saw the introduction of new technology, such as the two way wireless to police cars and the first ‘information room’ at Campbell Square. The first police dog patrols were also introduced in 1958. 1962 saw the home office increase police numbers from 170 to 203 in recognition of the fact that the work of the Borough Police was continually increasing. Northampton Borough’s boundaries were once again extended in 1965, leading to a much bigger area for police to patrol. A request was sent to the home office to allow for an increase in numbers but was declined due to the fact that a merger between the Borough and County force was on the horizon already. (Information largely taken from ‘A short history of Northampton Borough Police Force’) NORTHAMPTONSHIRE COUNTY POLICE FORCE The County Constabulary were formed in 1840 due to the provisions of the County Police Act of 1839 which gave county magistrates the power to create police forces. The county police came under the jurisdiction of the County Quarter Sessions i.e. the JP’s or magistrates. Initially the County force had a strength of 7 superintendents and 35 constables and was originally based in the home of the chief constable, Henry Goddard, at Albion Place before later moving to St. Giles Square in 1846. By 1849 there were 51 officers and this expansion led to the need for a larger building, which was found on Angel Lane. The County force moved here in 1859. The force was originally based around the seven petty-session divisions of the county (Brackley, Daventry, Kettering, Northampton, Oundle, Towcester & Wellingborough) with two further divisions being added in 1860 (Thrapston and Little Bowden, now in Leicestershire). Between 1850 & 1877 new headquarters were constructed for each division. By 1875 there were 130 officers in the County Force. In 1888 the Local Government Act passed control of the County Police Force over to the newly created County Council and the Standing Joint Committee. Part of the act also specified that Boroughs with populations under 5,000 would have to amalgamate their police forces with those of the County force. This occurred with the Daventry Borough force. During the First World War many policemen were called up as reservists and as a result special constables were drafted to replace them. The main concern during the war years was dealing with Zeppelin raids, but these were very infrequent in Northamptonshire. The Desborough Report and Police Act brought the same benefits to the County Force as it did to their colleagues in the Borough. In 1930 the Northamptonshire Constabulary Traffic Division was established which made use of motorcycles and motor cars. 1932 saw the first implementation of force orders for the County Force, in order to ensure that information was passed to all ranks. The divisions of the county were also amalgamated from 8 to 5 and a program of building new village police houses was begun. When the Second World War broke out the County Force had many of its men called up to serve. As a result special constables were used and the Police War Reserve had to be established. This consisted of men aged over 30 who agreed to serve for the duration of the conflict. The Women’s Auxiliary Police Force (WAPC) was also established and initially solely consisted of women employed in clerical roles, however by the end of the war they were beginning to take on more front line duties. In 1946 the force recruited six female officers. The post war years saw a period of manpower shortages and increased crime that led to much reorganisation within the force. In 1947 Wootton Hall was purchased and work began to transform it into a suitable building for a police headquarters. This took three years to do and the force moved into the building in 1950. The 1960s saw the construction of several new police stations at Wellingborough and Daventry MERGER The Police Act of 1964 enabled the home secretary to make compulsory amalgamations of police forces and as a result the County and Borough forces were amalgamated and became the Northampton and County Constabulary in 1966. At this point the County had 442 officers and Borough had about 204. The amalgamation was not an easy one and there were many difficulties in getting officers who had worked in the separate forces to work together initially. Several new divisional headquarters were opened in the late 1960s, for example at Kettering in 1969. The next major change for the force came in 1974 with the Local Government Act, which reorganised Northamptonshire’s twenty two county authorities into seven. This also led to a reorganisation of police divisional and sub-divisional boundaries, with four territorial divisions being created along with two non-territorial divisions. The Police Authority was also reorganised to consist of sixteen elected County Councillors and eight Magistrates. The forces name also changed at this point to ‘Northamptonshire Police’. A second wave of divisional headquarters building was carried out in the 1970s, with Rushden HQ opening in 1975 and Oundle in 1978. Wootton Hall was also heavily extended during this period. In the 1980s Northamptonshire Police were involved in policing the Miner’s Strike. In 2012 a major change was the introduction of Police & Crime Commissioners to police forces around the country. Northamptonshire Police employs more than 1220 police officers, 130 PCSO's and 700 police staff. It is also supported by more than 400 Special Constables, 700 Police Volunteers and 100 Police Cadets.
  • Existance and location of originals
    Researchers are directed to the Northamptonshire County Police collection (NCP) which also contains a range of items related to the Northamptonshire Constabulary. Of particular interest is NCP/58 which is a list of Officers' & Constables' Declarations and thus provides information on when officers took declarations and joined the force.
  • Level of description
  • Conditions Governing Access
    Many items within the collection are subject to restricted access under the General Data Protection Regulation (2018), these are clearly labelled on the catalogue. Items with sections which are over 100 years old will be accessible however will be redacted, with sections under 100 years old being restricted. Access to restricted items may be possible using the research service. Please speak to staff or email to find out more.
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