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CHAPTER V

OTHER CENTRAL DEPARTMENTS OF INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION

ALTHOUGH at the beginning of the twentieth century the Local Government Board already superintends the larger part of the province of internal administration, yet the Board is by no means the only central department with control over local government. One great branch of administration, the control of police, belongs to the Home Office. Education -another quasi-local service of supreme importance--is under the superintendence of the new Board of Education. Again, the Boards of Trade and Agriculture exert a number of regulative functions in relation to local authorities. Lastly, by the side of these permanent departments there are certain temporary organs known as Royal Commissions of Inquiryhighly characteristic institutions, which play an important part in legislation and government. In the following chapter these branches of central administration will be briefly described in their bearings upon English local government.1

I. The Home Office and the Central Control of Police 2

The outlines of what has already been said in various parts of this work must be retraced here. But first of the

1 This chapter, of course, is not all concerned with many of the most important departments, and does not profess to describe, as a whole, even those with which it deals. For a general description, cf. Gneist, Englisches Verwaltungsrecht, 1867, vols. i., ii.; also, for a later authority, Lowell's Parties and Governments in Europe; Anson's Law and Custom of the Constitution.

2 For an account of the Home Office, see Anson's Law and Custom of the Constitution, vol. ii. p. 227 sqq., and Hazell's Annual. For the older police statutes, see Burn, Justice of Peace, sub. "Constable." The police

Home Office. The department of the Home Secretary has gradually evolved into one of the most important organs of State. Its main concern is with police functions, taking that term in its wide sense. The Home Secretary has special authority over London, for the Metropolitan police force is directly under his control, and he has also to supervise in London the Housing of the Working Classes Act. The Acts relating to mines, factories, and workshops are enforced throughout the country by the Home Office by means of a large staff (180) of inspectors; and the department is brought into direct contact with local authorities, not only as police superintendent-in-chief, but also because, as we have already seen, many of the bye-laws made by municipal boroughs and County Councils may be disallowed by the Home Secretary. The Acts relating to the treatment of inebriates, the protection of wild birds, and the prevention of cruelty to children all give administrative and regulative powers to the Home Office, which is also entrusted with the inspection of reformatories and industrial schools.

In the historical sketch it was shown that the reform of police administration was begun contemporaneously with the reform of other branches of local government. Under the older system the maintenance of the peace was entirely in the hands of the Justices in town and county; but for the executive work of police there was no single or uniform organisation in these jurisdictions. The execution of all orders and regulations necessary for keeping the peace devolved upon constables appointed by the parishes under the superintendence of the Justices. How the system broke down at the begining of the nineteenth century and failed to satisfy the needs of a new era, how it was then sought to introduce reforms by way of local and adoptive Acts until the decisive step was taken in 1856,-need not again be related.1 In that year a

statutory duty was laid upon counties and boroughs to create in their districts a uniform police organisation, and to defray organisation in counties is based on 2 and 3 Vict. c. 93, 19 and 20 Vict. c. 69, and other statutes extending from 1839 to 1888; cf. further Wright and Hobhouse, op. cit. ch. x.; Maltbie, Local Government, p. 117 sqq.; Sidney Webb, "The Local Government of To-Day" (Lectures printed in Municipal Journal, 1899, especially in No. 358).

1 Cf. vol. i. pp. 170-171.

its cost out of local rates. sive provisions of the earlier reform of 1839 were made obligatory.1 In its main features the police system thus established resembled in its organisation the other branches of reformed local government. It was uniform, and it was managed by local authorities under central control. The origin of a paid force under central control may be traced, curiously enough, to legislation by the Irish Parliament. In 1786 Grattan's Parliament passed a Police Act for Dublin by which a paid police force was organised under the command of three Commissioners. In the following year the system was extended to the whole of Ireland by the creation of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The first attempt to set up a similar organisation in England was the Middlesex Justices Act of 1792, which gave every police magistrate in London the right to appoint six paid constables. The results of this reform suggested the legislation of 1829, by which Sir Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force.2 The general Act of 1839 was based on a thorough report issued by a Royal Commission, which exposed in unsparing language the dangerous condition of the roads in many parts of the country, and the absence (owing to utter lack of a regular police force) of proper security for life and property.

At the same time, other permis

County and borough police.

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Since 1856 counties and municipal boroughs have been practically the sole and exclusive local police authorities in England, outside the Metropolis. The Quarter Sessions in the counties and the Watch Committees in the boroughs were charged by statute with the management of the forces. Not that the older chaotic organisation was actually abolished; it was only practically superseded. Indeed, the Parish Constables Act of 1872 expressly recognised the right of every parish to have parish constables. That right might even now be re

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1 The reports of the inspectors of constabulary show that twenty counties had not adopted the Act of 1839. The county of Rutland, with 22,983 inhabitants, was still satisfied with one constable.

2 Cf. Parker's Sir Robert Peel from His Private Papers, vol. i. p. 432; vol.

ii. p. 41.

3 Parl. Papers, 1839, vol. xix. pp. 180-181; and Maltbie, op. cit. p. 118. 4 35 and 36 Vict. c. 92.

vived at any time by the simple resolution of a parish council or vestry, and thereby the parish constable of the old law, so long deceased, might be brought back to life. But a parish constable, though appointed by the Justices on the resolution of the parish, would be amenable to the orders of the Chief Constable of the county, so that an independent parochial police is now out of the question. It is, therefore, correct to say that from 1856 until 1888 the County Magistrates and Borough Councils were, in theory as well as in practice, the only bodies outside the Metropolis entrusted by law with the management and direction of the police. In all county

boroughs the statutory Watch Committee appoints and dismisses constables, organises the service, and controls the expenditure. The larger towns are divided into police districts, and a force with a superior officer or superintendent assigned to each; but there is no such thing as an independent director of police. On the contrary, the Chief Constable, who has, as it were, the military command of the force, is entirely subordinated to the Watch Committee. This form of organisation, founded by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, has remained undisturbed ever since. The scheme of county police is different. Since 1856 there has been a change in the constitution of the county police authority; for, by the Act of 1888, as we have seen, the management of the county police was transferred from Quarter Sessions to the Standing Joint-Committee, composed half of Justices and half of County Councillors. Accordingly, the county police authority is not, like the Watch Committee, a purely elective body. But this is not the only difference between the two, for in the counties there has been interposed in the office of Chief Constable a third authority, who stands between the administrative JointCommittee and the County Constabulary itself. The position of the Joint-Committee in reference to the County Council on the one hand and the Chief Constable on the other has been described in a previous chapter. Here it is only necessary to repeat that in counties the Police Committee is concerned mainly with the maintenance of the necessary buildings, the provision of apparatus and uniforms, and the defrayal of expenditure. For the direction and disposition of the force 1 Cf. p. 71 of this volume.

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and most of the executive work the Chief Constable is wholly responsible.

The Home

He was

From another point of view the Act of 1856 is of epochmaking importance in the development of police administration. It created a central supervision of all the police forces in the country. The Home Secretary's consent Secretary and was made necessary to the appointment of the police. Chief Constable, and also to any resolution for increasing or diminishing the constabulary, or for dividing a county into police districts. At the same time, a certain limited right of issuing Orders was accorded to him. empowered, for example, to make General Orders with regard to the payment, clothing, discipline, and equipment of constables and their officers; but as this right was at first only operative in those counties which had adopted the Act of 1839, the influence of the Home Office upon police affairs remained for some time fragmentary. The principle of laissezaller had to be maintained by the central authority in respect to the very counties where intervention was most needed—in those, namely, where the old bad conditions still prevailed, owing to their non-adoption of the earlier Act.

The great achievement of the Act of 1856 was to put a complete end to the voluntary principle in English police organisation. Henceforth it was incumbent upon all counties and towns to bring their police force up to at least a certain standard of efficiency. No English statesman ever dreamt of setting up a police ministry on the continental model. That the peace should be maintained by independent bodies in county and borough is an unshaken principle of the English constitution. Any attempt to set up a central department with power to lord it over the local authorities would be regarded as a direct encroachment upon the constitutional rights of citizens. It would be treated as an attack on the independence of the courts of law, and must inevitably fail. On the other hand, the leaders of conservative opinion would readily agree with liberal and radical statesmen that a return to the complete decentralisation and independence of local police authorities which characterised the older system is unthinkable. It is universally recognised that the methods. of prevention and detection used by the police should be

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