14th March 1915
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established
Guernsey’s first island-wide police force was set up in response to the outbreak of the First World War.
The force that was established on 14 March 1915 wasn’t its first form of policing, though. A less formal network of constables had long been patrolling Guernsey’s various parishes. Their role was formalised in the 1800s, and they were joined by four uniformed assistant constables. These were the first full-time paid police officers on the island. The annual budget to cover their salary was £160, and they started work in April 1853.
Their numbers grew, and by the early 1900s, Guernsey had several smaller groups of constables, including a dozen in St Peter Port. While they provided a good service, the security implications of the First World War changed matters. A unified, paid force was, for the first time, considered a necessity.
Guernsey Police is born
The States of Deliberation voted to establish it on 30 October 1914. Its first staff went to work from rooms at Le Marchant Street on 14 March the following year.
At the outset, Guernsey Police employed 22 staff. This included two sergeants and corporals, and eleven constables of its own. The St Peter Port force seconded a further six constables to bolster the numbers.
The force worked under the direction of Chief Inspector Edwin Green, who had come to Guernsey from the Metropolitan Police.
The establishment of the island-wide force didn’t mean the days of the parish constables were over. They were retained, and worked alongside the new force until 1919. Communication between the different levels of law enforcement meant that the two frequently worked side by side.
When the war came to an end, the States of Deliberation assessed the work of the island-wide force, and asked whether the parish deputies were still required. It decided they were not – or at least not to the same degree. Most of their powers were taken away from them, and handed to the island-wide force.
What else happened in Guernsey in March?
A body on a beach, an impossible alibi and an unstoppable race against time!
Check out the first book in The Sarnian series, set on the Channel Island of Guernsey.