Gloucestershire Constabulary the Second Oldest County Force in the United Kingdom

Adam Johns

Before 1839 small police forces had been established within Gloucester City and certain towns and Boroughs within the county. Sometimes officers were either ex-members of London’s Metropolitan Force and sometimes seconded from that force.

In 1839 the Gloucestershire County Constabulary was established with a Chief Constable and a maximum number of 250 officers (excluding Gloucester City and Tewkesbury).

In June 1840 there were a total of 245 officers, Superintendents and Constables, stationed at 32 police stations. By 1902 this had increased to 372 officers stationed at 113 police stations.

In 1918 the first women police constables were appointed

Two  to be employed in Cheltenham and paid for by the Borough Council. Prior to this date it appeared that female officers were seconded perhaps from the Woman’s Police Service, as and when required. Later in the year a further 8 women were recruited. At this time should they decide to marry then they were required to resign.

In June 1947 the force establishment was increased from 519 officers to 653 – about 25% increase. 1960 saw this increase to 772 and by 1970 it stood at 1,185. At this time the Force boundary reached south as far as, and including parts of, Bristol City.

From February 1976  woman became ‘equal’ with male officers, working the same duties and shifts and on equal pay.

Gloucestershire Constabulary is the 2nd oldest County Force in the UK, with Wiltshire being the first. Wiltshire Constabulary was formed on 13th November 1839 while the first Chief Constable of Gloucestershire was appointed on 18th November 1839.

Over a period of time the smaller police forces within the county were merged into the Gloucestershire Constabulary which continued to grow in numbers until 1974 when the lower part of the county from Thornbury south was merged with the newly created Avon & Somerset Constabulary and 340 officers were transferred. The size of the Force was then reduced to 1,007.

This page was added on 27/04/2015.

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