- Parish constable
Parish Constable was the term used to determine a
law enforcementofficer, usually unpaid and part-time, serving a parish. In some parishes, the position was known as "High Constable", e.g. the High Constable of Holborn.
London, the position was ended with the introduction of the Metropolitan Police Servicein 1829, which created a full-time professional force. Elsewhere, parish constables were gradually replaced with professional countypolice forces after the County Police Act 1839was passed. Parish Constables dervied most of their powers, from the local parish.
History of the position
The office of
Constablehas its origins in the medieval period; it originates from the Latin"comes stabuli", or "count of the stable". The term was originally used in Englandand Scotlandfor the Lord High Constable, one of the Great Officers of State responsible for the command of the army; however, the term was also used at the local level within the feudal system, describing an officer appointed to keep order. [p72, Bruce, Alistair, "Keepers of the Kingdom" (Cassell, 2002), ISBN 0-304-36201-8]
In 1285 King
Edward I of England"constituted two constables in every hundred to prevent defaults in towns and highways".p276-7, Markham, Sir Frank, "History of Milton Keynes and District", vol.1 (1973), ISBN 0 900804 29 7] There are records of parish constables by the 17th century in the county records of Buckinghamshire; traditionally they were elected by the parishioners, but from 1617 onwards were typically appointed by justices of the peacein each county.
Londonmetropolitan area was predominantly policed by unpaid Parish Constables until the introduction of the Metropolitan Police Service in 1829. The historian Stephen Inwood describes the 4,000 parish constables existing in this period as "of variable quality and commitment"; some parishes, such as Kensington, Fulhamand Deptford(with over 55,000 inhabitants between them at the time of the 1821 census) had no policing at all, and the quality of policing was generally considered inadequate by this period. [p591, Inwood, Stephen, "A History of London" (Macmillan, 1998), ISBN 0-333-67154-6]
Metropolitan Police Act 1829ended the position of most parish constables in London, replacing them with a professional and trained police force. The City of London, which controlled its own police force, was exempt from this; its police force continues today as the City of London Police.
Outside London, the
County Police Act 1839ended the positions of most parish constables. The Act gave counties opportunity to establish full-time police forces, headed by a Chief Constablewho was appointed by the justices of the peaceof the county. The first county to implement this was Wiltshire, which appointed its first chief constable on 28 November 1839. [ [http://www.wiltshire.police.uk/history/1839.asp Wiltshire Constabulary History] , Wiltshire Police website] Other counties followed this pattern; for instance, Essexappointed its first Chief Constable on 11 February 1840. [ [http://www.essex.police.uk/offbeat/o_mu_25.php The Making of a Chief Constable] , Essex Police website]
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Look at other dictionaries:
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