Amateur Constables Trained in Stick Fighting (1912)

  • Originally published on the site on Wednesday, 19th February 2014

From the Adelaide Daily Herald, April 13, 1912:

Amateur constables

One result of the recent disturbance (escalating industrial unrest and strikes) has been to give a real impetus to the civilian police movement. Hundreds of men have been enrolled during the past few days, and there are now over a thousand in London alone. A number of these were put on duty in Victoria street on Monday evening, and should occasion arise they will be used more and more.

It first seemed as though Mr. Churchill’s idea of volunteer police whose services were to be used solely in case of emergency would fall flat. The average man did not care to book himself to take service, possibly at the most inconvenient time and for a cause in which he is not at all interested. Now, however, that the men see what is being done, volunteers are coming in more freely. They are drawn from all classes — doctors and lawyers, K.-C.’s, bank directors, university tutors, and Stock Exchange men.

They receive no pay. They have a uniform of their own with grey helmets, long dark-colored police overcoats, and blue and white armlets. They are taught how to handle roughs, and, in particular, they have been acquiring the Vigny system of walking-stick defence which was devised to enable the French police men to deal with the apache.

One thing that prevented many men joining at the beginning was the fear that they might be used as strike-breakers. They will not be liable for this service, although it is true that one of the objects of the force is “to ensure the public against starvation, famine, or deprivation of food, milk, coal, or other necessities of life when a paralysis of the existing sources of supply is threatened.”

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