From Parish Constable to County Constabulary: An examination into the changing role of police constables in Dorset 1835-1875

Kaddey, Laura Anne (2020). From Parish Constable to County Constabulary: An examination into the changing role of police constables in Dorset 1835-1875. Student dissertation for The Open University module A826 MA History part 2.

This dissertation was produced by a student studying the Open University postgraduate module A826 MA History part 2. The research showcased here achieved a distinction.
Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.
Copyright resides with the author.


The histories of rural constabularies have been largely overlooked except for the county constabulary's own efforts to pen their histories during the centenary in 1956. Local historians have also contributed to the field on a macrohistorical level, often through their personal genealogical research, discovering that a family member was employed in the police. Although rural areas may seem quieter than their urban counterparts, and therefore less worthy of study, the geographical divergence that can be found within a county means that communities have different needs creating diverse cultures and socio-economic norms than their neighbours. This work seeks to address this deficit in knowledge by focusing on two areas of research to examine the development of rural policing in the county of Dorset. Firstly, how the restructuring of local governance brought a more nationalised approach to policing and crime prevention, and deterrence. Secondly, an investigation into the men employed in the service to understand what life was like for early constables. The first part will be explored by looking at the changing legislation relating to policing, justice systems, punishments and the restructuring of local governance, and how well the nationalising of the police was accepted by Dorset communities. The second part will seek to answer questions about the constables as individuals; what kind of men were they, and how did they fit into their communities? Were they ostracised because of their post? What tasks were they expected to undertake and how was the working day structured?

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