Record

CodeNA4677
Dates1795-1871
Person NameAberdeen Police Commissioners; 1795-1871
ActivityThough Glasgow was the first burgh in Scotland to obtain a local act of parliament actually to establish a police force in 1800, Aberdeen Police Commission was established by the City of Aberdeen Improvement Act 1795 (35 Geo. III, c.76). Local police commissioners were to be elected, with responsibility for the cleansing, paving and lighting of the city, and for the securing of the water supply. Glasgow, however, became the model for such bodies elsewhere under various local acts: Aberdeen’s act, which reformed and tightened the 1795 act, was obtained in 1818 (City of Aberdeen Improvement Act: 58 Geo. III, ch.lix). It was a reaction to the crime-wave that followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It also confirmed the police commissioners’ powers in the face of opposition from the town council, which excluded the police commissioners from the New Streets Trust set up in 1800: this would normally have fallen within the commissioners’ remit. The City of Aberdeen Improvement Act 1829 (10 Geo. IV, ch.xli) strengthened the commission again, establishing a police court, raising their financial powers, and allowed them to raise a force for daytime policing, previously a responsibility of the town council. In addition their influence over the water supply was increased by permission to take water from the river Dee. From 1833 any existing royal burgh or burgh of barony could establish a police system with similar powers without the need for a local act (Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1833: 3 & 4 Will. IV, c.46). 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. Aberdeen obtained its own general police act in 1862: Aberdeen Police and Waterworks Act (25 & 26 Vict., ch.ciii).

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. However, Aberdeen had already dealt with the problem by merging the Police Commissioners with the Town Council under the Aberdeen Municipality Extension Act 1871 (34 & 35 Vict., ch.cxli): from then on, policing issues were dealt with by the town’s Police Department.
Corporate NameAberdeen Police Commissioners
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