Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Glasgow Police Museum (Victim #14 Research)

I got struck with a bit of “must do something” on Saturday so I decided to head out. I had a few pictures to take for the Victim #14 scenery post I still owe you and there was a Japanese restaurant I had not tried in that area (should have gone to the Italian. That should give you an idea of how successful said Japanese restaurant was). Anyway, I went the Glasgow district known as Merchant City to visit the Glasgow Police Museum. (Note: you can make some of the pictures bigger by clicking on them).

Glasgow Police Museum is a exhibit about the history of the police department, which contrary to what the English claim, is the oldest in the UK, dating back to 1779. It is a small exhibit manned by retired policemen and I was lucky (or unlucky) to be the only visitor at the time. It has two wards, one with memorabilia and history panels and another one with a collection of police uniforms throughout the world.

Glasgow Police Department was founded in 1779 by the merchants, tired of petty thefts and robberies, but it was not until 1800 that it became a public force after the passing of the The Glasgow Police Act (and thus got funding to pay the poor constables). The original duties of the police were:

  • Keeping record of all criminal information;
  • Detecting crime and searching for stolen goods;
  • Supervising public houses especially where criminals frequent;
  • Apprehending vagabonds and disorderly persons;
  • Suppressing riots and squabbles;
  • Controlling carts and carriages

In 1819 Lieutenant Peter McKinlay was appointed as ‘Criminal Officer’ which made him the first Glasgow Detective. Two years later, he was provided with an assistant and so the Detective Department was created. The duties of a Criminal Officer were

  • Keeping records of all the crimes committed within the City;
  • interviewing every person detained on a criminal charge
  • Keeping records of criminal descriptions.
  • Aditional duties like take reports of broken street lamps, keep records of prisoners’ meals, enter details of Police Court trials in the Magistrates Books, inspect cells and interview an average of 30 prisoners a day…

If you know anything about North American History or like me have watched / read too many Westerns you might have heahd of Allan Pinkerton and the Pinkerton detectives. His father trained with the Glasgow Police.

The Police department suffered an all-time low during the First World War as 300 policemen joined the army, so 400 reservists were called.

By 1932 Glasgow Police had eleven policewomen to deal with cases involving women and children. The time’s Chief Constable recommended to increase the numbers and the promotion of one of them to Sergeant. Thus in 1933 the first woman, Jean Malloy, was promoted to sergeant and then to Inspector. Eventually she was awarded the British Empire Medal for distinguished service.

The gentleman who showed me around was a retired police officer, who explained to me how when he joined (in the seventies) they had to hide their batons AND the cord, else they would come across as too aggressive. Keep in mind that the UK police is not armed at the moment. Only a few carry taser guns in designated occasions (huuuge emergencies or sport matches).

In 1975 the Glasgow Police Department Disappeared and formed the Strathclyde Police Department [link] instead.

Shortly after leaving the museum I ran into a parade, which allowed me to take some pictures of the actual police without looking like I was doing anything dodgy.


Glasgow Police Museum [link]
1st Floor 30 Bell Street
Merchant City, Glasgow
G1 1LG

Opening Hours:
Summer (1st of April-31st of October, including bank/public holidays): Mondays-Saturdays 10am-4:30pm and Sundays 12pm-4:30pm.
Winter (1st of November-31st of March, closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day): Tuesdays 10am-4:30pm and Sundays 12pm-4:30pm.

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