Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Did Luton have enough Police Constables?

...............well not according to the petition raised by inhabitants of the town in 1855. A 71 strong petition, featuring the names of business owners, solicitors and the clergy of the town petitioned the Quarter Sessions for an increase in the number of Police Constable in Luton.   At the time the population of the town and parish of Luton had grown to 16,420 but was policed by just 2 Police Constables.

The petitions throws up some other interesting statistics and comments:

- on 31 December 1854 the parish and town population had increased to 16,420, with the town population of 14,000.
- the nature of the population requires more surveillance than an agricultural population.
- the length of the parish of Luton was almost 8 miles with the average breath of 3 to 4 miles and was almost 17,000 acres.
- the parish of Luton paid £309 for the Police Rate in 1854 and had 2 constable whilst other parishes in the Luton division paid £250 and had the advantage of 4 constables.
- the Police Rate suggests they ought have 5 constables, considering the inclusion of Caddington and the probable increase in low and disreputable characters during the construction of the railway.
- the population of the county in 1841 was 107,936 for which 43 constables were considered sufficient; the rate being 1 constable per 2,500 inhabitants. 
- the population of Luton now being 16,420 same rate would require 6 constables.
- inhabited houses in the Town of Luton in 1841 were only 1,139 and in December 1854 this was more than double at 2,512.

The Quarter Session minute book for this period suggests the request was successful and the Chief Constable was given the authority to appoint an additional 6 constables. The next year saw major changes in the how the policing of Bedfordshire was organised, with the introduction of revised Police Districts.  In fact it's interesting to note that it wasn't until this year that it became compulsory for a county to have its own Police Force.  Regardless of the changes, the issue raises its head again in later years, with the town still feeling it had insufficient Police Constables.  Confirming it as a timeless issue.  The image below shows, the impact of the railways is being felt.

QSM 38

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