The Queensland Police Force 1895-1910

Kowald, Margaret (1989). The Queensland Police Force 1895-1910 M.A. Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Kowald, Margaret
Thesis Title The Queensland Police Force 1895-1910
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1989
Thesis type M.A. Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Supervisor -
Total pages 315
Language eng
Subjects 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Formatted abstract
This thesis is an institutional history of the Queensland Police Force from 1895 until 1910. It is also a social history with emphasis on the role, duties and life of the ordinary policeman. Thus it is a history 'from the bottom up' giving an account of life for the Constables and Sergeants in various parts of Queensland at that time. There is less direct emphasis on the ranks above Sergeant - that of the Sub-Inspectors, Inspectors and the Commissioner. The main thrust of the work is to illustrate that institutional histories of Police Forces written from the 'bottom up' can achieve the same overall effect as the 'top down' approach despite the fact that such institutions by their very nature are hierarchical with power centralised at the top. Whilst the major theme is one of methodology, it is also passive and indirect. Certainly the theme will not be as obvious and specific as the sub-themes. They include the arguments that
control of the Force was primarily with the Commissioner with significant input from the Government and the community; that demographic, economic and environmental influences on Queensland had a direct influence on the history of Queensland's Police Force; that Queensland policemen were disadvantaged in monetary terms when compared with other Australian Police Forces especially those of New South Wales and Victoria; and that while the Queensland policeman was generally well mannered, well respected and was closely associated with the community, the description of a typical Queensland policeman varied with rank, age and the branch of the Force in which he served.

The study begins with a preface which places the thesis in the methodological context of other police histories which have been written both in Australia and overseas. The availability of sources is discussed and reasons given for choosing the particular time period. An overview of the 1864- 1910 period follows which covers the beginnings of the Queensland Police Force until the end of the period under review. The terms of Commissioners Seymour (1864-1895), Parry-Okeden (1895-1905) and Cahill (1905-1917) are reviewed and their accomplishments discussed in the light of how it affected their men. Such influences are placed in the context of what was happening in Queensland at the time politically, economically and environmentally.

The following six chapters (Chapters 2 to 7) are devoted to a close analysis of the lives of ordinary policemen in relation to the administrative structure of the Force and their role within the Queensland community. Discussion takes place under the headings of Recruitment and training; Conditions; Remuneration; Duties; Extraneous duties and Equipment. In Chapter 2 with the use of statistics from oath books, a clear picture is established of the men who joined during the 1895-1910 period, covering their physical attributes of height and age, their religion, country of origin, educational ability and previous occupation. All aspects of training at the Depot are discussed including the physical demands of drill and the instruction of theoretical aspects of criminal law and police regulations.

Conditions of the Force are analysed in Chapter 3 both administratively with the influence of the hierarchy in promotions, dismissals, transfers and punishments and also environmentally by discussing conditions under which the men lived and worked. Remuneration of pay, allowances and superannuation, an important area of discontent, follows in Chapter 4 which allows a comprehensive comparison with other Police Forces. Discussion of their duties forms a major part of the Thesis to the extent that two Chapters (4 and 5) are used. The role of the different ranks is highlighted followed by the differentiation of the many duties whether they be beat, mounted, fatigue or clerical duties and whether the men be in the General Force, the Water Police or the Criminal Investigation Branch. Extraneous duties are discussed in a separate Chapter because of their number and variety. The categories of horses, bicycles, uniforms, arms, technology and the band are covered in Chapter 7 under the heading of Equipment. The conclusion gives a summation of the methodological perspective of the work with the inherent problems that are associated with this approach. The sub themes of the topic are also reiterated and consolidated.

Keyword Queensland. Police Service -- History
Police -- Queensland -- History
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

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