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Becoming A Policeman

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Becoming A Policeman

Post by Karen on Fri 11 Jun 2010 - 23:54


London, including its square mile of kernel known as "The City," is under the guardianship of a well organized police force numbering 17,121 individuals. And that force has a tremendous responsibility resting on its broad shoulders. Besides the preservation of law and order, amongst six millions of more or less ambitious people, there is much to be done in looking after the worldly possessions of those six millions. Of the enormous actual value of the property in charge of the London police it is impossible to form any estimate. Some idea may be gathered when it is known that there are some six hundred and ninety square miles of the richest portion of His Majesty's dominions, always to be kept under careful observation. Naturally the selection of candidates for such guardianship has to be conducted with greater care and precaution than is necessary in the case of the requirements of Winklemouth-On-Sea, with its seven hundred and twenty odd inhabitants, to whom a local case of petty larceny provides a pleasurable sensation for weeks, whilst the training necessary in one case must of necessity be far more elaborate than in the other. In fact there is no comparison. It was recently declared by a well known authority that "there is no body of public servants chosen with such infinite care and discretion as those who come as recruits to the famous institution on the Thames Embankment.


And those who enjoy their guardianship, and not infrequently their friendship, know how true that statement is. How civil, how kindly - in short, how gentlemanly, we always find the average policeman! You can always ask him any question on any subject under the sun and be sure of a civil and intelligent reply! He is, as a rule, a walking encyclopaedia, bound in blue cloth. But he is a far different kind of person when he first makes his appearance at headquarters "to be licked into shape." The policeman in embryo is a rough, uncouth sort of being. He comes, as a rule, from the country, fresh from hod or hoe. The damp soil as it were, clings to him. It has all to be brushed off effectively. The brushing operation is generally successful. In the Metropolitan Police alone about one thousand vacancies occur every year. More than half of the vacancies are caused through the retirement of officers with pensions or gratuities.


The Commissioner, however, finds no difficulty in filling up the ranks. Every Tuesday morning there is more than ordinary bustle in the precincts of New Scotland Yard. It is candidates' day. Some fifty or sixty stalwart young men are up for examination. But how has the commissioner found these embryonic "bobbies?" Braw lads from the Hielands, west country farm hands, six-rooters from Tipperary - how have they been discovered? The question is not very difficult to answer. Thousands of young men are attracted to the police service because of its many advantages, and the candidates' list at Scotland Yard is always well provided with names and addresses. What are the attractions of the Metropolitan Police service? Well, primarily there is the pay - 25s. 6d. per week. as a beginning, with plenty of warm clothing. Coals, too, are included in the weekly allowances or money in place of them when not required. A policeman who conducts himself uprightly may also reckon that his annual increase of one shilling per week will come to him in due course and if promotion does not come as soon as he would like there is a maximum of thirty-three shillings and sixpence a week to look forward to.


In ten years' time a well-conducted officer may be almost certain of promotion and a fully-fledged sergeant commands a substantial rate of pay, according to his length of service. Better still, it is comforting to the average recruit to know that some fine day he may develop into a real live inspector, with a salary - it isn't called "wages" any longer - of from two hundred to two hundred and fifty pounds. And there are five superintendents at "the yard" alone, who must be pensioned off at a certain time. Well, who knows." The plain policeman may even aspire to one of these berths, with its comparatively gorgeous salary of four hundred pounds a year. Perhaps the best of the attractions is the fact that, after fifteen years' service, he may retire with a pension. But if he stays on for the full term of twenty-six years, he can claim two-thirds of his pay and go and live in peace for the rest of his days. Even the man who, owing to ill health or any approved cause, has to resign after three years, is treated better than he would be if dealing with the average civilian employer. He receives a gratuity of one month's pay for each year of service up to fifteen, when, as stated previously, he is entitled to a pension.


A man who wants to join the metropolitan police, must first write to the Commissioner, at New Scotland Yard, candidates' department, stating his intention and desire. In due course he will receive an official application form, on which he is asked to give in his own hand-writing, a large number of personal details. The Commissioner evidently wants to know as much about candidates, as the candidates know themselves. Age, height, color of hair, complexion, trade or other calling, married or single, if married, how many children, name and address of present or last employer, if previously served in any public service. Two testimonials as to character must accompany the returned form. These testimonials must be written by two responsible householders who have personally known the candidate for at least five years. In addition, a letter of recommendation from present or last employer must be forwarded. These are some of the qualifications which a man must possess before he can have any chance of success, be over twenty-one and under twenty-seven years of age, at least five feet nine inches high in his bare feet, able to read well, a legible writer, a fair speller, generally intelligent - from a Scotland Yard point of view - without any bodily ailment of any description, of the strongest constitution, exceptionally clean in personal habits.


We will take it that a man has received an intimation from the Commissioner that he may present himself for examination at Scotland Yard on a certain Tuesday morning. The vast majority of candidates come from the country, and pay their own fares in the first instance to London. Turning up at Scotland Yard on the fateful Tuesday morning, expectant candidates meet an officer in whose hands they remain for at least three weeks to undergo a course of thorough physical training. Chief Inspector Rose - a veteran of more than forty years service - is the mentor. He is known in the force as "the policeman maker." Promptly to time from fifty to sixty men are ranged in a large room in the great embankment building. Whilst waiting for the ordeal - the medical examination - they are harangued by Inspector Rose. He explains to them exactly what the nature of their duties will be should they become members of the force. He urges upon them the necessity of thoroughly understanding the terms upon which they are entering the service. Each man is supplied with a pamphlet issued with the object of insuring that the candidate knows the responsibility he is taking on himself in joining the police. He, in fact, will know what his position will be, what will be expected of him, and that he will not be allowed to do certain things such as an ordinary civilian may do. For instance, he must not incur a debt, or take any financial risks. He must not open a shop or give credit. These regulations are framed with the idea of enabling a policeman to keep himself, as it were, unspotted from the world of unfortunate notoriety. After listening to the worthy Inspector's homily, and perusing, or pretending to peruse, the admonitory booklet, the candidates for the order of the blue tunic retire to a dressing room, where they strip off their everyday attire and wrap themselves up in great coats to await their respective turns for an interview with the Doctor, Chief Surgeon Mackellar, whose duty it is to see that none but the robust and physically perfect will enter the force.


There is no calling - not even the sailor's - so trying to a man's constitution as that of the policeman's in London. The terrible winter, with its constant fogs and dampness, is bad enough when passed on day duty, but only those who have experienced it can ever understand the awful trials of night duty in a London atmosphere between the first of November and the end of March. It is significant, that in spite of the care, exercised in the selection of healthy men, one year's total of diseases among the officers, resulting from exposure, was 4,067, all cases of rheumatism, bronchitis, catarrh and tonsilitis. One by one, the men, clad only in their great coats, file into the doctor's room to learn their fate. The medical exam, being such a keen one, it is not surprising that a fair percentage of each day's candidates fail to pass. The big ordeal over, the successful ones are measured for their height, and weighed. Very few are rejected because the men have already, before coming to "the yard," satisfied themselves on these points. And they know that if they are even half an inch short of the requisite sixty-nine, there is not a bit of use going to any further trouble. Each man must be of the average weight, according to his height.


Next comes the examination to prove the candidate's ability in "the three R's." The educational test being only that which even the less ambitious board school supplies, the men are very seldom, if ever, "plucked" because of it. Still it is occasionally Inspector Rose's painful duty to have to inform a man, at the end of the first day's tests, that he is not a suitable candidate, and need not attend further.


The more fortunate ones, however, are marched off to the section house in Kennington Lane, which will form their temporary abode until the period of probation (three weeks) is completed. During this time each man receives a certain sum, sufficient for his needs, until he enters on his duties as a full fledged policeman. At the section house, where suitable accommodation is provided for some eighty men, the art of telegraphy is taught, and Inspector Rose seizes every opportunity to post the candidates in their various duties, all of which will be described further on in this article. When "off-duty," the young fellows either walk out for a constitutional or enjoy themselves indoors, where there are billiard tables, reading rooms, and other means of recreation.


Part of each day is spent upon the square of Wellington barracks, where the men go through a course of drilling under the superintendence of Inspector Rose. It is wonderful what a change is produced in the physical appearance of the men after a week's work in the barracks' square. The loose-looking, crudely-formed country fellows develop into smart, soldier-like men, with a regular, steady stride. At Scotland Yard they attend a course of five lectures given by Chief Surgeon Mackellar on elementary anatomy, and are instructed in ambulance work. Practical illustrations of first aid are included. All this is of great use in a place like London, where street accidents are such common occurences. Needless to say, the authorities that be at Scotland Yard are firm believers in the efficacy of vaccination. It is one of the conditions laid down to candidates that they agree to be re-vaccinated. So, before the days of probation are concluded, every man's arm carried tenderly about is sufficient testimony that the requirements of the regulations have been duly fulfilled. An important even happens toward the close of drilling at Wellington barracks. On an appointed day the candidates parade in the square, where, in the presence of an assistant commissioner they go through a series of evolutions under the command of the ubiquitous Rose, who becomes a blushing one when A.C. turns to him and officially compliments him on the smartness of his men. If the A.C. is thoroughly satisfied with the appearance and proficiency of the candidates, they are probationers no longer, but may regard themselves as policemen in mufti - for, of course, they have not yet "donned the blue."


On the following Monday morning - the official inspection takes place, as a rule, on Thursday or Friday - the embryonic Roberts appear at the receiver's store, where each man is supplied with his uniform and helmet.


Retiring laden to their quarters, the new and spotless blue clothes are donned. Then, under the direction of Mentor Rose, the proud fellows march from Kennington lane to the "Yard," where in the presence of the commissioner or his representative, each man is "affirmed." He solemnly promises to do his duty faithfully, making the following "general declaration":

"I, Henry Wilton, being appointed a constable of the police force of the Metropolitan Police district, do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign lord, the King, in the office of constable, and that I will act as a constable for preserving the peace and preventing robberies and other felonies, and apprehending offenders against the peace, and in all respects to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge the duties of the said office faithfully and according to law."
There is a special declaration for those constables who are intended for duty at or in a royal palace. It is worded as follows:

"I, William Jenkins, being a constable belonging to the Metropolitan Police Force, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will faithfully execute the office of constable within the royal palaces and ten miles thereof."


Whilst the probationers have been making themselves proficient in their new duties, the commissioner's staff has been busy making arrangements for their disposal over the district, which extends from Colney Heath, Herts., in the North, to Todworth Heath in the south, and from Lark Hall, Essex, in the east, to Staines Moor, Middlesex, in the west. Each new policeman's sphere of active duty has been arranged for him, and he is drafted off to the division in which he is to be employed, at any rate during the earlier part of his official career.


He at first fills a very humble position, acting as reserve man at the station and attending the local police court as usher. Here, in calling out names, he acquires that confident and authoritative voice which makes him out as a person of importance later on. In such employment he spends the first fortnight of his "active" life on the force. For some hours daily, at the station, the fledgling's superior officer acts as his coach in giving minute instructions in the law as to arrest, and generally in the multitudinous duties upon which he is about to enter.


With regard to arrests, he is cautioned never to a man into custody without sufficient reason. He must never enter a private residence without a warrant, no matter how great his belief may be that a "wanted" is seeking shelter there. A London magistrate recently stated that if a policeman were killed by a man whom he was trying to arrest without a warrant, his assailant could not be found guilty of murder. In making an authorized arrest the novice must never forget to recite the official warning to the prisoner, which informs him that anything he may say will be taken down and used as evidence against him. On these and other matters the superior "lays down the law" for the benefit of the recruit, and woe betide the latter if he fails to heed every detail. An oversight made by a recruit may utterly spoil his chances of success in the force.

Last edited by Karen on Sat 12 Jun 2010 - 5:43; edited 2 times in total

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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Becoming A Policeman

Post by Karen on Sat 12 Jun 2010 - 5:01


As to the extent of the policeman's duties, it may truly be said that a constable bears the combined cares of a dozen people upon his broad shoulders as he takes his walks abroad. For instance, he is expected to act as a sort of foster-mother to lost children, and to discover their relatives, to whom the lost one must be duly restored. The policeman is also regarded as the popular individual who should find the whereabouts of missing persons, and to lead them in due course to their friends. And very well he does his work. It is a fact that the City and Metropolitan forces during the year 1901, found and restored 18,473 lost children and missing persons to their anxious friends and relatives.


And a policeman has also to be an expert hand at extinguishing a fire, as well as acting as a watchman to discover outbreaks of conflagrations. To get his hand in at the art of extinguishing fires he attends, at regular intervals, a divisional fire drill at headquarters, where he and his comrades are placed under the direction of an experienced fireman. Thus the study of hydrant, hose, and fire-escape renders the sturdy man in blue a fitting auxiliary to the fire brigade in cases of emergency or shorthandedness of staff. And that he is able to cope with sudden difficulties of this nature is proved by the official returns of last year's London fires. Seventy-five outbreaks were extinguished by the police unaided by the brigade or any other assistance.


One would fancy that even a policeman's patience would be exhausted when he receives instructions to act as a sort of official capturer of stray and unmuzzled dogs. No wonder the canine breed is said to possess an hereditary hatred of a policeman in uniform. The combined forces, in the course of a year, captured no fewer than 30,635 dogs, including sixty-seven suffering from rabies. Now the capture of a mad dog is an act requiring special training. Should you ever happen to visit the precincts of a police station whilst mad dog drill is "on," don't imagine that the staff has taken leave of its senses. A real mad dog is a risky thing to practice the drill upon, therefore the demented canine is to be imagined, and the expert whose knowledge is being dispensed to the novice has to capture an imaginary animal. With drawn staff, and set, determined face, the veteran "bears down" upon his imaginary prey. To the assembled juniors he meanwhile describes the movements of the supposed dog, giving advice as to the safest way of approaching the unfortunate animal. Finally, by a flank movement, the imaginary mad dog is approached and knocked senseless by a blow of the polieman's staff. The knowledge gained by such rehearsals is invaluable to a man who must not flinch when the real mad dog makes its appearance in the street.


"Hi! Hi! Stop that horse!" yells an excited crowd, in most cases adding to the poor runaway's terror. And, of course, it is the first policeman that comes along who is expected to make the earlierst practical attempt to bring the creature to a standstill. At any rate the odds are that he knows more about how to do it than the ordinary man in the street. Although the lessons given are chiefly theoretical, they are none the less effective. Before a policeman goes out to do duty in the streets he is lectured upon the best method of stopping runaway horses. That is why you notice he never approaches the galloping animal from an opposite direction or at right angles. When a policeman sees a runaway horse coming towards him, he starts running in the same direction as the horse, looking back now and then as the runaway overtakes him. Soon the animal dashes alongside him, and although he may not be traveling as fast as the horse, he is able to shoot out his hands and grasp the reins, and, still running, gradually bring the beast under control. Last year 285 men in blue succeeded in stopping as many runaway horses, which might otherwise have caused serious damage to men and things. At such moments a policeman must not think of his wife or children. He has to act and act at once.


At the dead of night have you ever suddenly awoke from sleep to hear a steady, strong knock at your hall door? Have you crept downstairs, scantily clad to ask, in quavering or blustering tones, according to your mood, "Who's there?" Have you seen the flash of a bull's-eye lantern as you peeped through the keyhole? Then a gruff but civil voice that murmurs: "You've left your front room window wide open, Sir. Please close and latch. It is the policeman, of course. Who else would care a jot if you left every window and door in the house open? It is one of the many duties of the man in blue to examine the door and lower windows of every house on his beat at night. Many a burglary has been prevented by the caution of the watchful policeman. During 1901 the Metropolitan Force found 24,088 doors and windows left open or insecurely fastened at night. It is part of the policeman's duty to act the Good Samaritan at all times whensoever necessary. He has to assist persons who have met with an accident, to give first aid, and provide an ambulance, and to wheel this, single-handed, to the nearest hospital. Although it is not in the regulations, the policeman is supposed never to hesitate in jumping into river or sea to rescue drowning persons. How often this is done the many presentations of medals to members of the two forces by the Life Saving Society are sufficient testimony. Among other duties, the man in blue has to attend to the following, all of which call for tact and discretion in carrying out: The billeting of soldiers, the examination of pedlar's licenses, answering the questions of people who never can do anything without first "asking a policeman," and the prevention of overcrowding in omnibuses and tram cars. Well may a policeman, at the end of his twenty-six years' service, say to himself as he grasps the first instalment of his pension: "I have earned this!" And there is no doubt of it. - The Royal Magazine

Source: Morning Telegram, September 18, 1903, Page 9

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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