The foundations of the modern Staffordshire Police were laid in October 1842 at a meeting held at the Court of Quarter Sessions in Stafford.
John Hayes Hatton, a 47-year-old professional policeman, was appointed as the first Chief Constable in December 1842. Two years prior to this he had set up a police force for the county of Sussex.
The first policing districts
Under Chief Constable Hatton’s direction new recruits were trained in the yard of Stafford Prison before being posted to one of three policing districts:
- A mining district in the south of the county which included the towns of Bilston, Willenhall, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Smethwick and Handsworth
- A pottery district in the north including the six pottery towns of Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton
- The rural district consisting of the remaining areas of the county including Stafford, Stone, Cannock, Tamworth, Burton, Leek and Uttoxeter
Lichfield and Newcastle-under-Lyme had their own independent police forces at this time.
Pay and conditions in 1842
In 1842 police constables were paid fourteen shillings a week (the equivalent of 70p in today’s money). They worked nine-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week without a meal break. There were no 'rest days’ and only 'well conducted' men were granted leave, up to 14 days each year, with the Chief Constable’s permission.
By the end of 1843 it was clear that few of the new recruits were suited to a military-style police life. Out of 200 men, 79 had either been dismissed, discharged or had resigned.
Communication was a problem. 'Conference points' were arranged for officers patrolling adjacent beats so they could meet up and exchange information. In the towns officers carried whistles and were ordered to remain within whistle call of each other.
In these early days, officers’ uniforms consisted of a swallow-tail coat and top hat. This changed in the 1860s when the frock coat and pillbox (or kepi) hat, were introduced. Around this time officers began to wear helmets at night and in severe weather conditions.
The first detectives were introduced to the Staffordshire Constabulary by the then Chief Constable, Captain Anson, in 1894. Ten constables were selected for ‘detective duties’ on pay of four pence per day.
Policing for ordinary officers in the mid-to-late 1800s was mainly done on foot. In these early years no provision was made for a separate 'mounted' or 'horse' branch.
This changed, however, in 1894. Twelve saddles and harnesses were purchased for use on horses hired for special occasions and events and 12 officers were nominated to be riders. This was perhaps the force’s first mounted branch.
In 1919, after the Great War, a permanent mounted branch was established with horses returned from the battlefields of Europe. Mounted branch officers pre-fixed their collar numbers with the letter ‘M’. All horses were given names beginning with the letter ‘S’.
After 81 years distinguished service to the force, the mounted branch was disbanded in April 2000.
Following the introduction of the Road Traffic Act in 1930, a motor transport and patrol group was formed to police the roads of Staffordshire. Initially there were only three Austin Tourer cars, based at Stafford, to police the whole county. This was soon found to be inadequate and new cars were purchased to operate from every divisional station.
Women police officers
The first women police officers, six in total, joined the Staffordshire Constabulary in 1944. Initially their remit was to deal with problems associated with women and children. Since 1976, however, female officers have performed the same duties and tasks as their male counterparts and are currently represented in all ranks up to and including, Chief Superintendent.
Staffordshire Police, as we know it today, came into being on 1 April 1974. Prior to this it was called the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Constabulary.