Hertford Mercury and Reformer 11th of April 1840
Hertford Borough Police
The Hertford Town Council met on Wednesday, pursuant to adjournment. Edward Norwood, Esq., Mayor, took the chair, and Messrs., Joseph Gripper, Joseph Lawrence, Allington, Gilbertson, J.M.Gilbertson, Pollard, Haslam, Hancock, and Ayres were present.
The minutes of the last meeting having been read, the mayor stated that the committee had met and drawn up a petition, which the town clerk would read.
The petition was then read, as follows:-
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the Town Council of the Borough of Hertford
Sheweth, that your petitioners, in pursuance of the fifth and sixth William V., chapter 74, instituted “an Act to provide for the regulation of municipal corporations in England and Wales,” and ever since the said Act came into operation, have appointed through the Watch Committee, and have maintained, at a large expense, a police establishment, which experience has proved to be adequate to the wants of the Borough, efficient for all purposes of police, and generally satisfactory to the ratepayers by whom the expense of the said establishment is defrayed.
That the police establishment in this Borough forms the main charge on the Borough fund; and its regulation and control constitute by far the most important and responsible functions of the corporation.
That the borrower of Hertford, as a separate Commission of the Peace, and that practically the whole magisterial business therein is transacted by the Mayor and Borough justices.
That the Mayor and Borough justices cannot act at the general, or quarter, or petty sessions for the County, nor can they in any way interfere or take part in County business.
That your petitioners have been informed that a Bill has been presented to your Honourable house, intituled “a bill to amend the act the establishment of County and District Constables,” in which it is proposed that in certain Boroughs, comprising the Borough of Hertford, the establishment of County and Borough Constables shall be consolidated into one police establishment for the Borough and County.
That your petitioners decidedly object to these provisions of the Bill which relate to the proposed consolidation, and consider them to be unwise in principle and unjust towards a great proportion of the Boroughs in the kingdom.
That this Bill proposes to dispossess the Town Councils of all control over the place, and all control over the chief item in their expenditure; in many cases compelling them to impose heavy taxation, without allowing to them any discretion as to its amount or in its disposition.
That this Bill proposes to dispossess the mayor and Borough justices of all control over the constables of the Borough, whilst it leaves to the said Mayor and Justices, the whole responsibility of preserving and maintaining the peace of the Borough.
That this Bill, if passed into a law, cannot fail to give rise to much irritation and dissension, and will probably lead to frequent collisions between the County and Borough authorities.
That this Bill is inconsistent with the very principle of our municipal institutions, and will leave little more than the forms and name of self-government in all those Boroughs it is intended to affect.
But it will be inexpedient and unjustified any longer to subject those Boroughs to the expensive machinery of corporations, and the manifold inconveniences of annual elections, if, as is proposed by this bill, they are to be deprived of their most important privileges, and divested of their most responsible functions.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray your honourable house, that so much of the said Bill as proposes to consolidate the County and Borough police establishments may be expunged from the said Bill and not passed into a law. And your petitioners will ever pray, etc
Mr J. M. Gilbertson proposed, and Mr Ayres, seconded the adoption of the petition which was agreed to.
Mr Joseph Lawrence proposed that the petition be printed and sent to all cities and Boroughs in England and Wales, accompanied by a note requesting their Corporation, through their representatives in Parliament, in resisting this encroachment on their privileges.
This was seconded by Mr Joseph Gripper, and agreed to; and the petition was ordered to be signed by the Mayor, to have the Borough seal affixed, and to be presented by the Borough members.