Record

CodeNA10150
Dates1845-1930
Person NameBurgh of Hawick; Police; 1845-1930
ActivityGlasgow was the first burgh in Scotland to obtain a local act of parliament to establish a police force in 1800. Local police commissioners were to be elected, with powers to provide a police force, and also with responsibility for the cleansing, paving and lighting of the city. This became the model for such bodies elsewhere under various local acts. Once the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV c.46) was on the statute book, any existing royal burgh or burgh of barony could establish a police system with similar powers without the need for a local act.

From 1850, ‘populous places’ with a population over 1200 (in 1862 reduced to 700) could apply to become burghs of this type, or ‘police burghs’ as they came to be known [General Police (Scotland) Act 1850, 13 & 14 Vict., c.33; General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862, 25 & 26 Vict., c.101]. Despite the name, the smaller burghs adopting the 1862 Act were not allowed to establish police forces.

The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892 (55 & 56 Vict., c.55) ended the overlap and sometimes friction which had existed between burgh councils and police commissioners by restricting powers to either one or the other. Increased public health powers were provided and only burghs with 7000 or more inhabitants were allowed to retain their police forces. New forces could only be created in burghs with a population of over 20,000. Elsewhere the police authority was to be the county council. Police commissioners were abolished by the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 & 64 Vict., c.49), in favour of the older term of ‘provost, bailies and councillors’.

Hawick's police force dates from the burgh's adoption in 1845 of much of the act of 1833, including the provision for the appointment of watchmen and other officers of police. However, the surviving records are all of later date than the Hawick Municipal Police and Improvement Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. ch. clxxvi), which effectively brought about the burgh's adoption of the Police of Towns (Scotland) Act 1850 (13 & 14 Vict., c.33, and lay behind the creation of something recognizably akin to a modern police force. The burgh police force was taken over by the Roxburghshire constabulary on 16 May 1930. This in turn merged with other forces in south-eastern Scotland in 1975 to form Lothian and Borders Police.
Corporate NameBurgh of Hawick
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