Webpage created: February 17, 2016.
Webpage updated: March 22, 2017
POLICING OLD DEVONPORT
It was in June 1808 that a Bill was paid before Parliament seeking to get authority to form a police service at Plymouth-Dock. It was promoted by the local merchants who were anxious about thefts from their vessels moored in the Hamoaze and Plymouth Sound. They wanted the King to form the police force along the lines of the Thames Police Office in the parish of Saint John at Wapping, in the county of Middlesex. But its jurisdiction was to cover the counties of Devon and Cornwall and there were many objections so the Bill failed.
However, in 1835 the Municipal Corporations Act enabled unincorporated towns like Devonport to obtain a Charter of Incorporation and form a police force. Devonport was granted that privilege towards the end of 1837 and formed its police force the following year.
By 1867, when the force was inspected by the Inspector of Constabulary, it had 46 men and was well clothed, well equipped and efficient. The Police Station and cells were at the rear of the Devonport Town Hall in Ker Street.
The Devonport Force was headed by a Superintendent until 1893 when Mr John Matters, who had joined the Force in 1862, was promoted to the newly created post of Chief Constable of Devonport. Unlike its neighbour, the Devonport Force had a mounted section, although they were apparently rather dishevelled in appearance and not used very much so they were disbanded in 1911. From 1898 onwards the Force also patrolled northwards as far as Saint Budeaux and Saltash Passage.
In 1914 the Force was amalgamated with that of Plymouth and the Devon County Constabulary 'H' division that looked after East Stonehouse. The last Devonport Watch Committee meeting was held on Thursday October 15th 1914. The last surviving member of the Devonport Police Force was Mr Frederick John Boundy.
After the amalgamation with Plymouth a new Police Station was built in Exmouth Road and police telephone boxes and pillars were introduced throughout the area.