Following his arrival here in 1951 as a young constable Ted spent a few months on the beat in Hamilton before being transferred to the Traffic Department, and then to the newly created "S" Department (Special Branch) in March 1954. We are not sure exactly when Ted began to explore the history of the Police, but by late 1955 he had completed the onerous task of writing a most comprehensive article, "The Policing of Bermuda From the Earliest of Times" which was published in the Autumn 1955 edition of the Bermuda Historical Quarterly magazine. Ted was quite self deprecating in explaining how he came to write "The Policing of Bermuda" as he wrote in his foreward:-
“As far as is known this is the first attempt anyone has made to write a History of the Bermuda Police. As I do not have any literary ambitions or qualifications, one may think it presumptuous of me to undertake the task.
“The fact is – I thought I was on easy street. After spending two or three days in the Bermuda Library and coming away with only a couple of useful paragraphs I knew my hands were full.
“I have spent many hours lost to this world delving through historical records and enjoyed every minute of it. Unfortunately, time has not been one of my attributes and I feel that there is much left unwritten. On the whole, however, this History will probably serve as a useful guide."
We are delighted to re-publish Ted's article in its entirety as it describes the evolution of law and order in Bermuda from the first mention of a "constable" in 1620, through having unpaid constables working part-time, to the hiring of full-time constables by 1844, the establishment of a full-time Police Force in 1879 headed by a Superintendent, and through to 1954 when the Police Force had an establishment of 138 officers led by a Commissioner of Police and an annual yearly budget of £140,804.
You can read more about Edward A. "Ted" Burton in the excellent article writen about him by George Rose for our Hall of Fame. CLICK HERE to view the article.
THE POLICING OF BERMUDA
THE BERMUDA HISTORICAL QUARTERLY – AUTUMN QUARTER 1955
Published by the Bermuda Historical Quarterly, Hamilton Bermuda.
“Mr. Burton was born in Morpeth, Northumberland, educated at Durham City Senior Secondary School, and served as Petty Officer in the Fleet Air Arm from 1941 – 1948;
during three of these years in Egypt and in the Far East in 1947. We are glad to have an aspect of Bermuda history hitherto untouched upon in our pages and to have the interest of the Commissioner of Police, who has contributed a Forward.”
“This Force, young though it may be, is already proud of its tradition, and Mr. Burton has done much to strengthen this essential quality and foster esprit de corps. I recommend this issue of the Bermuda Historical Quarterly to every member of the Force.”
“The fact is – I thought I was on easy street. After spending two or three days in the Bermuda Library and coming away with only a couple of useful paragraphs I new my hands were full.
“I have spent many hours lost to this world delving through historical records and enjoyed every minute of it. Unfortunately, time has not been one of my attributes and I feel that there is much left unwritten. On the whole, however, this History will probably serve as a useful guide.
“The source of my information in most cases will be obvious by the text, but in those where it is obscure I have given the source in the Appendix.”
E. A. BURTON
The first colonists in Bermuda came as a result of a shipwreck. In 1609 Admiral Sir George Somers, in command of the “Sea Venture”, fouled Bermuda’s ‘treacherous’ reefs. Three years later the Virginia Company sent out fifty settlers under the governorship of Sir Richard Moore.
In 1618 the Island was divided up into nine parishes as they are known today and two years later under Governor Nathaniel Butler, the first General Assembly of Parliament was held as it had been in Virginia the year before.
The first significant mention of a constable came in 1620.
“Upon the first of June began the second Assize (1), that reduced them to the direct form used in England. For besides the Governor in Council they have the Bailifs of the Tribes, in nature of the Deputy Lieutenants of the shires in England, for to them are all the precepts and warrants directed, and accordingly answered and respected; they perform also the duties of Justice of the Peace, within their limits. The subordinate Officers to these in every Tribe, are the Constables, Head-borowes, and Church Wardens; these are the triers of the Tobacco, which if they allow not to be merchantable, is burnt; and these are the executioners of their civil and politic causes.”
“You shall swear that you shall well and truly serve (2) our Sovereign Lord the King in the office of a constable. You shall see and cause his Masters peace to be well and truly kept and preserved according to your power. You shall arrest all such persons as in your sight shall go around offensively or shall commit or make any riot, affray or breach of Masters peace. You shall do your best endeavours upon complaint to you made to apprehend all felons, Barraters, and riotous persons riotously assembled; and if any such offender shall make resistance with force, you shall levy hue and cry and shall persue them until they be taken.
“You do your best endeavour that hue and cry be duly persued and that the statutes made for punishment of rogues, vagabonds, night-walkers, and such other idle persons coming within your bounds or limits be duly put in execution.
“You shall have a watchful eye to such persons who shall maintain or keep any common house or place where any unlawful game is or shall be used, as also such as shall frequent or use such places or shall use or exercise any unlawful games and or elsewhere contrary to Statute. You shall well and duly execute all precepts and warrants to you directly from me the Governor of these Islands, and you shall well and duly according to your knowledge, power, and ability do and execute all other things belonging to the office of a constable so long as you shall continue in this office. So help me God.”
Swearing and cursing was frowned upon, and it is interesting to note the law prevailing at the time on the subject.
“In any manner whatsoever, that he, she, or they, so offending therein, either in the hearing of any Justice of the Peace, by his own confession, or testimony of one or more credible witness, on his or their oaths, forfeit twelve pence to the use of the poor in the Tribe or Parish.”
If they did not pay the fine, the Justice of the Peace, levered distress and if the value of the fine could not be recovered by this means, the offender was placed in the stocks for 3 hours if over 12 years of age, or whipped if under 12.
Some idea of the number of inmates anticipated can be gleaned by the size of construction. It was 32 feet long and 16 feet wide with a wall 15 feet high. 12-inch stone was used for the lower room and 19-inch stone for the upper room. A dungeon was provided which measured 12 feet by nine feet. There was one window for each of the two lower rooms and two windows for the room above. Each window contained five bars.
When the vote to build the prison was carried, it was found that there was no money in the Treasury to pay for it. A short time later the Government came into some funds and £85 was allowed to complete the scheme.
The prison was not very satisfactory and 1747 the Provost Marshal again made complaints as to its insufficiency. It was not until 1756 that a new one was built and, near the former one. Ironically for the Provost Marshal, this new gaol was used for many years as an army barracks before it was used for the purpose for which it was built.
It would seem that the serving of such documents was (4) not always an easy matter for the Provost Marshall in 1732 thought it necessary to put forward proposals to the Assembly designed to ease his and his deputies duties. The closing paragraph of his proposals reads:
“Which proposals I humbly Conceive (being enacted) will be of very great service to the inhabitants in General, an Ease to me in the execution of my office, and will prevent the daily abuses offered to me and my Deputies in the service of mean process, wherefore I humbly presumed to recommend the above proposals to your consideration.”
In this early period of Bermuda settlers the Churchwarden had very similar duties to a constable. For instance, in an Act to prevent profane swearing and cursing, any offender had to pay unto the Churchwarden a fine for the use of the poor. The fine was levied in pursuance of a warrant of the Justice of the Peace by a constable or churchwarden. Failure to pay meant that this offender could be whipped by the constable, by his parent, master or mistress.
It will be seen that the Government of the day had quite a good system of keeping the peace. First there was the Provost Marshal, then each Parish had a Justice of the Peace; under him were the constables, churchwardens and bailiffs, all of whom worked in close harmony.
The system worked out very well until 1786 and it is in this year that the first mention of Police as a body is made.
“An Act as well to enable the Vestry of the Parish of St. George the better to regulate the Police within the same as for effecting certain other purposes therein particularly specified.”
“Whereas the Town of St. George has for many years past labored many and great inconveniences for want of a regular and legal system of police within the same; We, therefore your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects the General Assembly ……….
Whereas persons chosen into the office of churchwardens and constable for the said Parish, have, at times refused to be qualified and to serve in their respective offices. In order therefore to remedy such inconvenience in future, be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid that every person who from and after the first day of October next shall be chosen into office of churchwarden for the Parish of St. George aforesaid and shall refuse to qualify and serve such office shall be and is hereby declared to be subject and liable to the penalty of £10, and likewise constables shall be liable to a fine of £5.
“Every constable belonging to the said Parish who shall depart these Islands before his time for serving has expired, shall on his return thereto be liable on the first vacancy to be re-chosen and to serve his full time of twelve months without any allowance being made for the time he had formerly served in the said office.”
Once again it can be seen that the Churchwarden and Constable are mentioned almost in the same breath and indicates their importance to the community. The Island was now becoming quite important, the population had risen considerably and St. George was a thriving port. It can be appreciated that a situation where responsible members of the community refused or deserted their duties caused quite a lot of anxiety in the House of Assembly. It is not surprising, therefore, that an attempt was made to improve the system.
Records (5) at this time show that constables were paid a regular sum by the Parish Vestry. For instance:
It would appear from the records that from this time the Parish Vestry ceased to pay the Constables a yearly fee. The records show quite clearly that the Parish Vestry sent a certificate to the Legislature indicating the period of time the constable had served and setting out the amount due the constable, and it is further recorded that these sums were paid by the Legislature.
An attempt was made in 1827 to establish a Civil Watch and an Act was made setting out ways and means of doing so. However, this Act was disallowed and it is not certain whether a start was made to carry out its provisions.(6)
In an emergency a Justice of the Peace could also swear in any number of special constables. The Act laid down quite comprehensively what the men of the Civil Watch were required to do and to all intents and purposes, they were constables.
To the policeman of today riots and unlawful assemblies as well as the law in regard to them are a primary part of his education, so it interesting to mention here what the procedure was in 1834.
If three or more persons were gathered together in any riot, the Justice of the Peace was required to cause a white flag to be placed in their midst for a period of ten minutes.
If the rioters had not cleared within the ten minutes, they were arrested and liable to imprisonment not exceeding three months.
There was no proclamation and it is assumed that all the inhabitants knew what the flag indicated, for it was the practice in those days to pin all important Orders and Acts affecting the community on church doors and other prominent places.
It is perhaps very fortunate that serious crime was (7) practically negligible. This is understandable for the punishment to fit the crime must have been a great deterrent. As an example: A William Wainwright was found guilty in June, 1838 of breaking, entering and stealing. He stole a piece of cambric and other articles to the value of £8. 11. 0.
His sentence was:
“To be imprisoned in the gaol of Hamilton for a period of 12 months, to be worked on the tread wheel every Monday and Wednesday during that period, twice a day, 15 minutes each spell, between the hours of 11 and 12 in the forenoon, and 2 and 4 o’clock in the forenoon, and 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon; and to be fed on bread and water for the first 10 days of each month, except on those days when he worked on the tread wheel.”
One can visualize that the Members of the House were following very closely the form of Policing used in the Mother Country even though it was not all that could be desired in strength and efficiency.
The new Police Bill read, in part, as follows:
‘We trust that the efforts which have been made to secure efficient Constables to act under the Regulations of this Law will be crowned with success……………
We trust not again to be subjected to the very shameful scenes of riot and indecent exhibitions which have been presented in this town and neighbourhood during the past week, in consequence of some seamen from Her Majesty’s Ships permitted to come on shore on liberty’
Two Police Magistrates to act as Justice of the Peace within the limits of their respective towns. It shall be his duty to keep a Police Office within the limits of the Town.
Police Magistrates to appoint two Constables for each town. They are to reside within a quarter mile of the Market House of the Towns.
It shall and maybe lawful for any such Police Constables as aforesaid, to apprehend all loose, idle, and disorderly persons whom he shall find disturbing the public peace, or whom he shall have cause to suspect of any evil design, and all persons whom he shall find lying in any field, highway, yard or other place, or loitering therein, and not giving a satisfactory account of themselves, and to carry such person so apprehended before a Justice of the Peace, or deliver such person into the custody of the Gaoler at the nearest gaol, in order that such person may be secured until he or she can be brought before a Justice of the Peace to be dealt with according to law.
It is also the duty of both the said Police Constables for each of the said Towns, in company with each other twice in the course of every night at such times as directed by the Police Magistrates, to patrol the streets, lanes and other places within their respective limits most usually resorted to by loose, idle, and disorderly persons.
In case of sickness the Constable can appoint a substitute with the approval of the Magistrate.”
It is difficult to assess the extent of crime at this time. Bermudians were a proud people, living in small communities and criminals were despised. From all indications the Islanders were law abiding. To confirm this statement the following extract from the House of Assembly Journal of August, 1840 is of interest.
“A Petition from Justices of Quarter Sessions for the allowance to which they were entitled each time they sat. Allowances were usually paid from fines but ……. these, for some time had not been sufficient.”
1844 BERMUDA’S FIRST FULL-TIME CONSTABLES APPOINTED
In 1844 another slight change was made in the policing of the Island. An Act was introduced for improving the Police in and near the towns of Hamilton and St. George, and for other purposes.
It became lawful for the Governor to appoint during his pleasure a Head Police Constable and one Assistant Police Constable for each of the towns.
These constables, like their predecessors, were under the direction of the Police Magistrate of the respective towns and were required to be in attendance at his office during office hours.
The Head Police Constable was paid £50 per annum and his assistant £15 per annum. As far as can be ascertained they were the first full-time constables to be employed. Of course, the Parishes still maintained their part-time Parish Constables.
The town constables were again required to provide a substitute in the event that they were sick. The substitute had no right to salary and it is left to conjecture whether the constable paid him or whether the honour of doing the job was sufficient.
It was also laid down in the Act that:
“Any Police Constable who shall be guilty of any neglect or violation of duty in his office of Police Constable shall be liable to a penalty of not more than £10, the amount of which penalty on his conviction before a Police Magistrate, may be deducted from any salary then due to such offender, or, in the discretion of the Police Magistrate, may be imprisoned for any time not more than one calendar month.”
One of the more interesting duties of a constable at that time was that he was required, within the limits of his town, to obliterate all placards or inscriptions of an indecent nature found on any wall, gate or tree, etc., always providing that he did not damage the property to which these things were attached. No mention is made of attempting to find the culprit, but if he did so that person would probably be charged under one of many offences listed which was comparable to the Summary Offences Act of today.
An innovation in the Gaol was the tread wheel; introduced for punishing prisoners who had been convicted of hard labour. Certain restrictions were laid down as to its size and use. It had to be made of no more than 48 steps, and each step had not to be more than 9″ in height. Any prisoner who refused such punishment could be given a total of 24 lashes in any one day. This, however, must have been too harsh for a year later the alternative was changed to solitary confinement and bread and water.
Under the Act the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the town were empowered to appoint four fire constables. These constables were required to make a declaration of faithful discharge of duties before the Mayor. Their duties were:
“That the Fire Constable, taking their Badges with them, shall upon the breaking out of a Fire, attend upon the Fire Wards, and act under their direction in subduing the Fire, keeping Order, and preventing Thefts; and any Fire Constable neglecting to attend or act, as herein required, shall forfeit a sum not exceeding Forty Shillings.”
“By way of Compensation to the Fire Wards, Fire Constables, and Fire Men, for the duties enjoined on them by this Act, they shall severally be exempt while in Office from any Assessment authorized by the Fifteenth Section of this Act: and also from any of the said duties after ten years of Service in any one or more of the said Capacities by himself or by Substitutes.”
Section Fifteen required property owners to pay certain rates to the Vestry Clerk, for the payment, upkeep etc., of a new fire engine which had to be imported.
This Petition resulted in a lot of land being purchased on the main high road leading from Mangrove Bay to Sandys Parish Church at a cost of £10. Specifications were laid down as to construction and £70 was allowed for erecting and completing the building.
A Section of the Act states:
“That the said Building after the same shall be erected and finished shall be and remain under the charge of one or more of the Constables of Sandys Parish acting therein subject to the lawful orders of the Magistrates residing in that Parish, and that the same shall be kept in repair at the expense of the said Parish – such repairs to be assessed and taxed for in like manner with other Parochial Charges.”
Section V. of this Act reads:
“That it shall be lawful for any Church Warden or Constable in these Islands to weigh any bread offered or exposed for Sale – and that any Bread offered and exposed for sale in these Islands, not being of the weight required by this Act – or which shall not be stamped or impressed as required by this Act, shall be forfeited, and it shall be the duty of any Church Warden or Constable to seize the same, and the same shall be sold and disposed of in such manner as shall be directed by any Justice of the Peace, and the proceeds thereof applied in aid of the Parish rates of the Parish where the offence shall be committed.”
“We would recommend persons residing in and about the town of Hamilton to look around their outer doors as several houses in the neighbourhood have been robbed within the past ten days or fortnight.”
Reports were frequent relating to cruelty to animals. One case was that of a horse and carriage being raced from St. George to Hamilton, causing the horse much suffering.
Another related to rats and other vermin being soaked in inflammable liquids; and also, when caught, being placed in wire cages then poked at with sticks.
The reporter had this to say on the subject:
“Whether the accumulation and the more mature experience of manhood will tend to abate the cruelty that has been mentioned as manifest among our youths, remains to be seen, but while waiting for these developments, we advise the police authorities to enforce the law.”
Such a statement must have been one of the first in this Colony which advised the police authorities. With the police available it must have been quite a problem to enforce the law to any great extent.
At the same time a proposal that a new gaol be built was made, at an estimated cost of £6,180.
As was mentioned earlier, the tread wheel had been used for the punishment of prisoners. Now, however, its use had lost favour with the authorities and it was decided that it should only be used in connection with some useful machine.
In a small Colony such as Bermuda the Chief Justice is in a position to say whether the Police Force is good or bad. He lives in the Colony, sits in the same Supreme Court at each session and is confronted with the same policemen giving evidence time after time. Also, during his leisure hours he is able to observe the actions of the police on the street and in the districts.
“He had before had reason to remark on the Constabulary of the Colony and its inefficiency to prevent and detect crime. In the case he had just referred to was an instance of a prisoner lawfully apprehended being allowed to escape by the simplicity of the Constable, and as the case would be brought before them, and it might appear to be an amusing one, and one which they might be disposed to regard lightly, it was as well they should know the law governing the matter.”
The Chief Justice then went on to quote Blackstone on an officer permitting a prisoner to escape. He continued:
“By the common law of England a Constable should be ‘idoneus homo’ that is, a fit and proper person, able and fit to execute his office; and he must possess three of these things: honesty, knowledge and ability.
Honesty to execute his office truly without malice, affection or partiality;
Knowledge to know what he ought to do;
Ability as well in estate as in body that he may execute his office when needed and not from importance or poverty, neglect it.
This then is what the constable ought to possess, and he would leave it to the gentlemen on the Grand Jury to reflect whether constables are so possessed as to possess these three qualifications. The honesty may be taken for granted – but knowledge of duties, not an easy matter to become possessed of in this day, and ability of estate and body – the Grand Jury could tell of their own knowledge and experience whether the class of Constables in Bermuda were up to the required standard.
As regards the latter qualifications, he must certainly confess that the ability of body did not distinguish the majority of Constables who presented themselves at Court, though their other many excellent qualities might render them invaluable to the Force.”
The Constabulary of the Islands must have been a favourite topic of this particular Chief Justice for in the Michaelmas Term he has this to say:
“The condition of the Constabulary. The old system of Parochial Constables had in these days only to be mentioned to call down some share of ridicule, and as to his knowledge of Constables, they had been selected not with a view to their efficiency, but they were manifestly unfit physically and intellectually for their duties; so he considered that the matter called for amendment. In so small a place as Bermuda, with so small a population there was no reason, except for the reason (if it could be so called) of indifference, prejudice, and it may be, interest, why constables could not be all amendable to one head, acting intelligently and in unison, not only for the detection of but for the prevention of crime. In the Calendar before him he notices one case of a Constable being called upon to apprehend his own brother, and a rescue being alleged to be effected by a third brother; a condition of things probably owing to the system of parochial constables.”
These words did not fall by the wayside. In any event they were probably partly responsible for the Police Establishment Act of 1879, the preamble of which reads:
“Whereas the present Police Force is deficient in organization, discipline and efficiency, and it is expedient to regulate it under more efficient management.”
Under the new Act a Police Magistrate was appointed for the Parish of Sandys which meant that now each District had its own Magistrate.
The Superintendent was stationed at Hamilton and was Superintendent of the Force and Chief of Police of Hamilton. Under him were a Chief of Police who was stationed at St. George, and eight Police Constables. Three of these were stationed at St. George, three at Hamilton and two at Sandys. Constables were liable to serve anywhere on the Island and at Sandys and St. George [they] came under the jurisdiction of the Magistrate in the matter of attendance at his office and patrols. Constables in those districts were required to submit weekly reports to the Superintendent.
The Superintendent was paid a salary of £100 per annum, the Chief of Police £80 and the Constables £50 to £60.
Photo of Hamilton Police Station in 1890
Under the 1901 Establishment Act the Superintendent rank was replaced by that of an Inspector of Police. Under him were three Chief Police Constables, fifteen Constables and 21 Rural Constables, In addition to this strength the Governor had powers to recruit twenty extra Constables in an emergency.
The Inspector, a Chief of Police and eight Constables were stationed in Hamilton.
A Chief of Police and four Constables at St. George and a Chief of Police and three Constables at Sandys.
Three Rural Constables were assigned to each of the Parishes of Pembroke, St. George and Sandys with two in each of the other six.
Rural Constables were still part time and received £18 to £36 per annum compared to £78 to £85 by the regular constables. They were required to patrol during certain times of the day as instructed by the Inspector and to serve summonses in their Parish.
The Corporations of Hamilton and St. George and the Overseers for the Poor of Sandys were required to subscribe one fourth of the upkeep of the Force. They in turn levied taxes on property in their respective Parishes which was known as the Police Tax.
An odd provision in this Act was that in a public emergency a Detective could be employed by the Force. There is no clarification on the point and it must be assumed that this would mean sending to the U.S.A. or England for one. As far as is known this was never done.
“Under the provisions of the Police Establishment Act 1903 authorizing an increase of establishment, there are seven vacancies for regular constables in the Force, viz., four at Hamilton and three at Sandys.
Candidates for the appointments should send their applications accompanied by testimonials of character to the Inspector of Police, Hamilton not later than 14th. August, 1903.
Every candidate must be able to read and write legibly.
Salary commences at £78 per annum.
Uniform and boots supplied free.”
It will be noticed that the constables are required for Hamilton and Sandys and one might wonder what about St. George. It appears that St. George was decreasing in size and importance as fewer ships were using the port. Hamilton, on the other hand, was expanding every day and was thriving on the shipping which not so many years before had used the port of St. George. At the other end of the Island Sandys had to contend with the men of the Royal Navy at the Dockyard, hence the increase there.
Under this Act Rural Constables were provided with a uniform consisting of a blue serge jacket and trousers, a blue cloth cap with white band, and armlet and badge. Certain instructions were issued regarding the care of the uniform.
The greatest care had to be taken that the clothes were kept clean and well brushed so as to keep them from destruction by moths, and the buttons had to be kept clean and bright. The band on the cap had, at all times, to be kept clean and white.
The cap was required to be worn square on the head, the armlet on the cuff of the left sleeve; and the badge on the front of the cap, kept in place by the strap of the cap or by the white elastic band.
Handcuffs had to be kept bright and clean, and in the event they were found rusty they had to be cleaned, and the cost of doing so was deducted from the constable’s salary.
Rural Constables were expected to patrol their districts for twelve complete hours during each week, and for such further period as was deemed necessary by them or as was from time to time ordered by the Inspector of Police.
The Inspector also issued from time to time orders for the Rural Constables to patrol after sunset for any period on any day that he thought necessary.
He constable was required to visit licensed premises and to make an entry in his pocket book as follows:
“I certify that I have patrolled my districts regularly in accordance with the regulations and that I have visited all licensed premises in my district and found that in each case the provisions of the Liquor Licensing Act were being complied with.”
They were instructed to be constantly on the alert to see that the law regarding the carrying of lights on vehicles and cycles travelling on the public road between sunset and sunrise were strictly complied with and immediately report any person infringing the law. They were also required to submit reports on the sanitary condition of their respective Parishes.
Crime, however, became an increasingly common occurrence and it was nothing to see at this time a notice in the newspaper issued by the Governor, offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of a criminal.
“Definition of a Motor Car:
In this Act and in any Regulation made under this Act, the term ‘Motor Car’ shall mean any vehicle propelled by mechanical power, but shall not include any road roller, fire engine, stone cutter, stone crusher, or engine used for drawing or propelling a stone cutter or stone crusher.
It shall not be lawful for any person to use a motor car on the public road of these Islands.
Any motor car used on the public roads contrary to the Act will be forfeited to the Government.”
The Corporations of Hamilton and St. George were exempted from the Act as far as road sweepers and such like were concerned but only within the boundaries of the respective towns.
In the early months of 1920 it was reported in the local press that a Sergeant received £10 per month and that accounts against him for a month were £18. 13. 8. A Constable received £16. 16. 9 for two months and accounts against him were £34. 15. 5. This indicates that the cost of living was nearly double that of their salary. This can easily be believed when it is noticed that pay in the Force had remained the same since 1903 and that the Great War had intervened causing prices to skyrocket.
Only a few years previously several policemen were convicted of breaking entering and stealing from a store in Hamilton. While there can be no excuse for a policeman submitting to the temptation of theft, it is clear that a person in so responsible a position as he must receive a salary sufficient to keep him free from financial worry in order that he may carry out his duties efficiently.
Editors Note - CLICK HERE to read more about the four policemen jailed for dishonesty offences at Trimingham’s store in Hamilton in December 1915; and about the re-organization of the Force thereafter. http://www.expobermuda.com/index.php/latesthof/915-john-howard-sempill
The new Force consisted of a Chief of Police, an Inspector of Police, a Sergeant Major, four Sergeants and a Detective Officer, and not more than 38 Constables. The salary range was £500 per annum for the Chief of Police to £225 per annum for a Constable. All increases in salary were made with the sanction of the Governor, but only on his being satisfied that the officer or member of the Force had carried out his duties with diligence and fidelity.
A Constable was not allowed to leave the Force before completing his term of enrolment under penalty of a fine of £25 and forfeiture of any salary due to him. Anyone employing a man leaving the Force without sanction, knowing him to have done so, was also liable to a fine of £25 and had to refund to the Treasury and expense incurred by the Government in bringing the man to Bermuda.
After making those provisions the Government went ahead and sent the Chief of Police to England to recruit young men.
The Chief of Police [Sempill] arrived back in Bermuda in August, 1920 having selected 18 men from 500 applicants. All men were ex-servicemen and eleven of them had been in the Metropolitan Police.
They were boarded in the ‘Allenhurst Hotel’ on lower Parliament Street, which had been converted into Police Barracks. They were sworn into the Force at 5 p.m. on the day of arrival and at 8 p.m. most of the men were out on the streets having their first taste of beat duty. That seemed to deserve a slight pause for thought!
One constable, who must have been quite bewildered by the occasion, is reported to have got lost somewhere in the vicinity of St. John’s Church and with slightly pink cheeks had to ask the way back to the Police Station.
The arrival of the new constables caused quite an impact on the population who were overjoyed to see such strapping young men patrolling the streets.
Police constables were given powers to arrest any person in possession of an unregistered cycle. There were many loopholes in this scheme and it was never very successful. It also resulted in constables being employed in registration duties which decreased the number available for beat duty.
The Chief of Police also became the Licensing Authority for carriages and carriage drivers.
“Vehicles not exceeding three in number propelled by mechanical power and employed by the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the Town of At. George for the watering and sweeping of the streets of St. George, the collection and removal of Town refuse or for any other municipal work for the said Mayor, Aldermen or Common Council, are hereby exempt from the provisions of the 2nd and 3rd Sections of the Motor Car Act 1908 provided the use of such vehicles is confined to the limits of the town of St. George and the Parish of St. George at a distance from the town limits not greater than half a mile, and no such vehicle shall be deemed to be a “Motor Car” within the meaning of the Act or any other regulation made thereunder.”
That easement was probably the spark which has resulted in Bermuda’s traffic problem today. 
The Police Establishment Act 1933 was passed giving effect to the suggested increase.
With the passing of the Act recruiting commenced immediately and although the Force was not up to strength at the end of the year, the increased number of patrols and beats had an almost immediate effect in reducing serious crime.
The detective branch, now the C.I.D., which had consisted of one detective and one constable, was increased by five constables, all of whom were stationed at Headquarters.
Up to 1933 the Commissioner had no power under Police Regulations to deal with members of the Force committing departmental offences. If a penalty was to be imposed it was necessary to send the report to the Governor – even for a minor offence. As a result, members of the Force were only reported for more serious offences. But now the Commissioner was given power to fine up to the sum of £2.
The Force then consisted of 52 Englishmen, 18 Coloured Bermudians and 7 white Bermudians. It cost £26,000 for the year to maintain it.
The railways track and the service in general was often under fire from residents. From the Police point of view the main drawback was that the track on Front Street in Hamilton was a serious danger to cyclists, particularly to visitors. The number of persons thrown from their cycles ran into hundreds annually.
The chief cause of complaint regarding traffic on the Island was the reckless riding of cycles and there was no doubt that such cases did frequently occur. To give some indication of the traffic problem encountered by the police during this period; the population was a little over 30,000, there were 20,000 cycles registered – indicating that almost everyone who could ride a cycle did so – and there were over 550 horse-drawn carriages on the Island. (The number of carriages today  is less than 20)
With what amounted to almost the invading of the Island by servicemen of all countries came the introduction of the motor vehicle. Their use was restricted, and in 1939 there were only 45.
There were many extra duties imposed upon the Police during the war; and where every man was worth his weight in gold, the loss of a single one had its effect.
Police were in charge of registering radios, cycle, dogs, public carriages and drivers, war-time identity cards, and the weekly registration of visitors. There were other duties such as a constable stationed at Darrell’s Island to check incoming planes, a constable employed on Immigration and two others in the Eastern District employed on convoy patrol. Also, constables were employed on the docks of Hamilton and St. George as guards.
During this year work started on converting the dormitories at the Hamilton Hotel into Police Barracks due to the Allenhurst building being taken over as Government offices.
The office accommodation at Police Headquarters was stated to be inadequate for the volume of work and the size of the Force, and the possibility of taking over the Public Works Department building next door was considered, but nothing came of this.
In 1941 Bermuda had possibly the worst murder in its entire history. It was of such magnitude that it was thought necessary to bring two G-men from the United States to help solve the crime. These men introduced into the case a method of scientific research probably never before attempted in Bermuda.
The murderer, one Henry Souza, was eventually arrested and charged, and sentenced to hang.
The date of execution was set for Tuesday, July 6, 1943 and Souza was ultimately place in the Death Cell to await his fate.
Less than two hours before the time set for the execution he escaped. Fortunately, however, his liberty was short lived and he was arrested by Police without much difficulty.
Evidence at first pointed to conspiracy in his escape, but Souza told Police that he was able to see the death cell from his former cell and that he had been able to plan his escape then.
He offered to give a demonstration how he escaped and, everyone being anxious to see how the impossible was accomplished, it was accepted.
Noiselessly and displaying great agility, Souza leapt to the toilet seat in his cell, put his shoulders through the window and squeezed the upper part of his body through the transom window which measured only 18” by 7”. Once in that position, he reached out and grabbed a small length of overflow pipe which extended from the wall, about three feet from the window and in line with it. Aided by his grip on the pipe Souza was able to turn his body around and draw his legs up under him. Then with a quick spring he leaped to the top of the wall where he obtained a hand hold. Being barefooted, he was aided by his feet in getting his body on to the top of the wall. He was just about to do this when the Commissioner declared he had seen enough. If Souza had continued, it would have been an easy matter for him to have dropped down into the alleyway which was but a ten foot drop, and regained his freedom.
The time taken to complete his escape took only eight minutes.
During the war no recruits were brought from outside the Colony, and it was not until the latter part of 1946 that 17 were recruited from England.
“I want to take this opportunity of expressing from the Bench (10) a commendation of the work of the Police Force of Bermuda. I have now been occupying my appointment for just short of five years and accordingly I am able to speak with authority on the matter, and I have been particularly struck during these years and throughout the many Assizes over which I have presided, by the high standard of efficiency which is displayed by the Bermuda Police Force in their work of investigation, and I would refer to something which impresses me almost more – and that is without exception the standard of fairness and correctitude and propriety with which the several members of the Police Force, from the highest to the lowest in rank, with which these men deal with the persons with whom they are concerned; whom they are charged with arresting and dealing with, and it must be a great satisfaction to the Commissioner of Police to know that with that standard of fairness and correctitude his Force is yet able to attain such a high percentage of successful prosecutions, and I would congratulate this Colony on the Police Force which they have. With regard to that, I am not effusive in my commendation, but I speak, again, with knowledge of long experience of Police Forces in other parts of His Majesty’s Empire, and Bermuda has something of which it may well be proud.”
By this time the Force had shed a few of its loads. All registrations had been turned over to other Departments, and thus policemen were able to do their proper duties.
Since then the Force has gone from strength to strength. Four police dogs have been acquired. An Electronic Speed Meter has been used very successfully in controlling speeding vehicles. A new two-way radio system has been installed and there are now twelve vehicles fitted out. Each of the Police Stations has receiving and transmitting sets and the standard of reception is excellent all over the Island.
A young coloured man broke into an unguarded armoury and stole a rifle and ammunition. He then shot his girlfriend and disappeared. He was at large several days during which time he came close to arrest on more than one occasion.
He was considered dangerous, and when one morning at about 4 .a.m. the radio crackled out a report that the police car had been shot at, as many constables and reserve constables as possible were assembled.
The party split up into three groups, each group being in the charge of an officer. The whole extended over a distance of about ¾ mile and the order was given to go forward. Each group had a walkie-talkie and they were controlled by the senior officer in the main group.
The search had lasted only half an hour when a shot rang out, which, at 5.30 a.m. sounded like the rattle of a machine gun. Bodies dived for cover in all directions. But that was the only shot; the quarry had ended his life twenty feet up a tree where he had been watching the proceedings, probably with grave misgivings for the crime he had committed.
The use of the radios had ensured complete control over the three groups of men. Though their use by the Force may be infrequent their value has been proved, and they are a great asset to a modern Force.
The History of the Bermuda Police Force has not been a glorious one but in the past few years tremendous strides have been taken and, if continued in the future, will result in a Force second to none.
The rapid rise in population, the 100,000 tourists a year who visit the Colony and the 10,000 motor vehicles using the 105 miles of roadway on the Island are an ever increasing worry to the Force.
Crimes have been committed in recent years which, hitherto, had been unknown locally; and it seems the trend will continue. There is no time, therefore, for the Force to rest on its laurels. History is still in the making.
Commissioner ……………………..1 1
Deputy of Commissioner …………1 1
Chief Superintendent ……………..1 1
Superintendent …………………....1 1
Chief Inspector …………………….1 1
Inspectors …………………………. 6 5
Sergeants ………………………....13 13
Constables ……………………....114 99
Total 138 122
Cost of the Force
Personal Emoluments ………………………….. £ 94,724
Rent Allowances (Bonus) ………………………. £ 9,398
Other Charges ………………………………….. £ 35,216
Reserve Constabulary ………………………… £ 1,466
There were also 1,250 single prints and 275 palm prints.
Finger print evidence was given in nine cases during the course of the year and eight convictions recorded.
The Photography Section increased in importance and among many other things 156 prisoners were photographed, 35 sets of photographs were taken of scenes of crime and accidents, and the Dup photo copying machine was used extensively for copying documents and reproducing photographs.
The Police Dogs were used constantly to patrol the beaches and other area where crime was prevalent and there is no doubt that they acted as a deterrent to would-be offenders. The dogs were considered valuable in the ‘prevention of crime’ side of police work.
Saloon cars ………………. 11
Trucks …………………….. 1
Land Rovers ……………… 2
Champs …………………… 2
Motor Cycles …………….... 41
Auto Cycles ……………….. 3
The total mileage covered by these vehicles throughout the year was nearly 440,000 miles.
In spite of the increased surveillance by the Section speeding, dangerous and careless driving were prevalent and resulted in an increase in the accident rate. There were eleven deaths due to traffic accidents during the year.
The new radios proved to be very efficient. All patrol cars were fitted and during the year answered 1801 radio calls to attend accidents, crimes and miscellaneous offences.
Eighteen men left the Force during the year out of which two were dismissed and one retired. A big effort was made to recruit local men but, as in previous years, the response was very poor and only five were considered suitable. A further five were recruited through the Crown Agents.
The Reserve Constabulary once again gave valuable service to the community and to the Force. Their efficiency and smartness is of a very high standard and Bermuda is indeed fortunate to have such a fine organization.
Special Constables have always existed in some form and usually were only used in an emergency. For instance, during the war years (1939-1945) they were called up to guard important properties on the Island – such as the Telephone Company and the Electric Power Station – and to assist the police generally. These duties were carried out during the night time. During the day the men worked at their normal occupations.
The Bermuda Reserve Constabulary was formed under the Provisions of the Police Act 1951. Apart from the appointment of a Commandant, Captain R. W. V. Winters, M.C.P., and a few senior officers, regular recruiting did not commence until the beginning of 1952 when, during March, April and May the strength of the Force was brought up to 120 out of a total authorized strength of 180.
The unit then became organized as follows: –
Administrative Staff: – Commandant, Deputy Commandant and Assistant Commandant-Adjutant.
Central District: – An Assistant Commandant, four Inspectors, eight Sergeants and forty Constables.
Eastern District: – An Assistant Commandant, two Inspectors, four Sergeants and twenty Constables.
Western District: – Similar to that of Eastern District.
The above figures are approximate and vary from time to time with the fluctuation of membership.
It was decided that the Constabulary should wear a uniform which would be distinctive, yet of a material and colour that would be easily maintained. An ‘Air Force Blue’ gabardine cloth was considered suitable and the types of buttons and other items requiring polishing were avoided as it was foreseen that man called out in an emergency would look rather untidy in a uniform that had been stored for some time. For the same reason it was decided that Sam Brown Belts should not be worn by officers.
Shoulder flashes with the inscription Bermuda Reserve Constabulary were considered necessary so that members would be immediately identified to the many visitors who are always in the Colony.
The uniform is provided by the Government and is valued at about £30. The Government also provided the funds so that the uniform may be cleaned when necessary. The average life of the clothing is stated to be five years.
The Constabulary is a voluntary organization and its members do not receive any payment unless called out in an emergency by command of the Governor.
Since its formation the Constabulary has given much assistance to the regular Force and its value has been proved on many occasions.
Members have regular parades and are given instruction in police work by officers of the Bermuda Police Force. Quite often they are also given lectures be doctors and lawyers etc.
In order to give them practical experience, members are regularly attached to beat duty and car patrol, usually for about four hours a night. The value of this has been evident many times.
In October 1972 the Bermuda Recorder published an Editorial as the first of a précised series of the contents of Ted Burton's article on "The Policing of Bermuda from the earliest days” published in the 1955 Autumn edition of the Bermuda Historical Quarterly.
It should be noted that four weeks prior to the commencement of these publications, Police Commissioner George Duckett was shot to death at his home in Devonshire on the evening of 9th September 1972.
CLICK HERE to read about investigations into the Commissioner’s murder which was followed 6 months later by the assassination of His Excellency the Governor and the murder of his Aide-de-Camp. http://www.expobermuda.com/~bermyxpo/index.php/lia/515-follow-the-guns
In addition to publishing extracts of "The Policing of Bermuda from the earliest of days" the Bermuda Recorder article read as follows:-
The second in this series is a continuation of the history of the Police Department by E. A. Burton, an ex-policeman. It is the hope of The Recorder that this series will create more goodwill between the Police Dept. and the Community.
Further, if we support this principle, then we obviously agree that no one has the right to deny man of his liberty. He should be free to make his own choices.
The civilized world has embraced the idea that every man has the right to the pursuit of happiness – each choosing his own path in search of that formula which would give him enjoyment, success and allow him to make his contribution to his community.
Assuming that our thinking does coincide with this precept, we must undoubtedly accept the fact that there are customs which have the force of law. These customs prescribe the methods we employ in achieving our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We believe that the majority of Bermudians are law-abiding and are anxious to do their part in ensuring that peace and harmony prevail. On the other hand, there are a few who thrive on discord and war – even though it be with words. Be that as it may, we repeat that for a country such as ours, law and order must prevail if we are to continue the prosperity that Bermuda is having at this moment.
An integral part of this scheme of maintaining law and order and preserving our rights as citizens is the Bermuda Police Department.
Some of us agree that laws must be made to protect us, and in the same breathe we utter words to the effect that these same laws when enforced by the authorities take away our liberty. We must be fully cognizant of the fact that the laws that protect us from abuse are the same for those who commit the abuse, and we do have redress.
Few Bermudians have sought the Police Department in their pursuit of happiness; but this should in no way be justification for treating with contempt those who have accepted the challenge. Remember, policemen have the same basic rights as we in the community – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“Much of the bad publicity surrounding the Police Force is due to the fact that not many Bermudians are on the Force; but is this the fault of the Force itself, or of Bermudians?
“In an effort to create more understanding between Bermudians and the men on our Police Force, the Bermuda Recorder is presenting a series of articles on our Police Force entitled: KNOW YOUR POLICE DEPARTMENT. In this series, we will explore the beginnings of the Police Force, its history, its recruitment and training programs, and its various departments and their functions.
Publication of the above précised articles by E. A. Burton seemingly ended on the 4 November, 1972; but they immediately resumed on the 10 November, 1972 with a continuation of the history of the Force authored by then Chief Inspector Maurice ‘Sykes’ Smith who brought the History up to date from 1954 to 1972.