Birmingham City Police

Birmingham City Police 1839 – 1974
In October 1839 all six of Birmingham’s Sub-Inspectors resigned in order that they could take posts in the new Worcestershire force at  per annum compared with the  that they were receiving in Birmingham. In order to stop officers leaving a system of cash rewards for good service, conduct or work was introduced. These rewards were liberally paid out and usually amounted to either 5/- or 10/- for a good arrest, good work at the scene of a crime, stopping a runaway horse or even being complimented by a member of the public.The single men lived in army style barracks and had to pay 2/- a week towards the mess bill. Washing days were designated one day a week in the winter and two in the summer when men would be issued with hot water in order that they could wash their feet! There was also an arrangement that the men could use the local bathhouses at a reduced rate of 2d. but they were to provide their own towels. The men were encouraged to improve their education and books and newspapers were provided. Constables when contemplating marriage had to obtain the approval of the Chief Superintendent and find a house nearby to rent.

The Police officers were subject to a firm level of discipline. The constable of the day was to be a regular disciplined officer who knew his beats and its inhabitants. By knowing the residents it was easy to recognise strangers, criminals and troublemakers.


Between the beginning of the forces operation in November 1839 and October 1842, 499 men were dismissed:

Drunk – 162
Absent from beat or station – 107
Attempting to resign, improperly – 43 (apply for permission to transfer)
Insubordination/insolence – 23
Refusing to comply with an order/regulation – 13
Found in a Brothel or pub when on duty – 12
Loitering or gossiping when on duty – 9
General neglect of duty – 9
Theft from the stores or from other PCs – 8
Found asleep on his beat – 7
Abusive language to civilians – 7
Ditto to police officer – 5 Regardless of rank
Rejected by the police surgeon – 5
Dirty and unfit for duty – 3
Theft – 2
Attempting to join another force – 2
Miscellaneous – 22
No / miscellaneous reasons – 59

No / miscellaneous reasons include: smoking on duty, living with a prostitute (his wife being alive), inducing a married woman to leave her husband and marrying a second woman, his wife being still alive
The Act of Parliament which led to the formation of the Birmingham Police expired on the 1st October 1842.  All doubts about the legality of the Charter of Incorporation were settled by the passing of another Act, which allowed a force to be formed under local control. A Watch Committee was appointed to take charge of the force with effect from the 1st October 1842. All officers who wished to remain in the force were again sworn in at the Town Hall at the end of September. However, Commissioner Burgess left the force as his commission had expired and in December Superintendent Richard Stephens was appointed hief Superintendent in charge of the Force (The term hief Constable was only adopted by Birmingham in 1876).

The strength of the force grew in relation to the city over the next hundred years or so.  In 1891 Saltley, Little Bromwich, Balsall Heath and Harborne were added to the city boundaries. Quinton followed in 1909 and two years later almost 44,000 acres were added with the inclusion of Aston, Erdington, Yardley, Acocks Green, Hall Green, Sparkhill, Moseley, Kings Heath, Kings Norton, Northfield and Handsworth. Perry Barr was added in 1928 followed by Castle Bromwich and Sheldon in 1931. The final additions were made in 1966 when part of Hollywood was included.

In 1974, following the reorganisation of the local authority boundaries, Birmingham City Police was amalgamated with the West Midlands Constabulary and parts of Warwickshire and Coventry Police to form the current West Midlands Police.


1839  1842: Capt. Francis BURGESS

1842  1860: Richard STEPHENS

1860  1876: George GLOSSOP

1876  1881: Major Edwin BOND

1882  1899: Joseph FARNDALE

1899  1935: Sir Charles Haughton RAFTER

1935  1941: Cecil Charles Hudson MORIARTY

1941  1945: Sir William C. JOHNSON

1945  1963: Sir Edward J. DODD

1963  1974: Sir (William) Derrick CAPPER