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The strength of the Force at Newport Pagnell, when the building was completed in 1872, consisted of a Superintendent and three Police Constables, who conducted the majority of their duties from home, thus involving their wives.
The majority of the adjoining villages had their own Constable, but Newport Pagnell with their three Constables covered a population of approximately 3,500 with 23 public houses for local convenience and comfort, together with supplying the needs of visiting stockmen attending the weekly cattle market.
In 1872, the local Fire Brigade, regulars and volunteers, staged the first ever brigade competition held in this country. Fourteen appliances from distant towns descended upon the town, and must have created quite a spectacle with teams of two, four and eight horse drawn vehicles with their postilion riders, flourishing their brass helmets. Here it can be said that with the advent of electricity, those splendid adornments were discontinued and leather helmets took their place.
The event drew some 12,000 people into the town thus swelling the resources. Seventeen policemen and one Inspector oversaw the proceedings on Bury Field ( the Common close to the centre of the town ). A further contingent kept order in the town itself. There were no problems, no arrests made : how different to this day and age!
Each station had to send one policeman to the headquarters at Aylesbury, in order to copy out the various rules and regulations, to be taken back to base in neat copperplate handwriting, (copies of which are held at the museum). How different to the usual scrawl seen nowadays (mine included). Those books make for some interesting reading, and give an idea as to the social conditions in those early days.
Newport Pagnell, these days, has a complement of twenty Constables, two Sergeants, and an Inspector, looking after a population of some 15,000 and a reduced number of public houses.
Although modern technology tends to ease the pressure, it would appear that minions in little offices have a way of increasing the paper-work-load for those working the streets, taking an enormous amount of valuable time which could be more usefully used in patrolling the streets, and 'hopefully' reducing the number of problems encountered. It is no wonder that the word 'stress' has entered the equation, and morale subsequently affected. Thus with the obvious absence of 'Mr. Plod' on the beat, problems increase, with the conclusion that without additional manpower it is no wonder that the THIN BLUE LINE is rapidly disappearing and efforts to recruit are somewhat of a problem, - and morale has not even been mentioned.
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