Early county chief constables in the north of England 1880-1905

Leigh, Juliet Esme (2013). Early county chief constables in the north of England 1880-1905. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d4ff


This thesis assesses the authority of nineteenth-century chief constables through a study which was based in four northern counties. It challenges the frequently made generalisation that they were powerful and autonomous men whose relationship with the police authorities was close and amicable. The first section investigates the office holders themselves, their backgrounds, characters, reputations and the circumstances of their administration. It estimates their professional standing while they were supervised by Quarter Sessions. The focus then shifts to an exploration of the potential effects of the implementation of the 1888 Local Government Act on the independence of county chief constables. Subsequent chapters examine chief constables' autonomy after Standing Joint Committees took over police supervision, firstly in their control of industrial disruption and then in their day to day management of the force. The core of the enquiry is contained in accounts of how some chief constables were undermined by members of Standing Joint Committees who made direct attempts to deprive them of their authority. However, in contrast, the thesis also outlines the ways in which they benefited from their communication with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Home Office. The thesis concludes with a review of how sources of evidence have contributed to a more complete picture of the authority of the chief constables in the study.

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