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Crickhowell and district
Crime and punishment
  Men in blue  

When Queen Victoria came to the throne Breconshire was policed mainly by parish constables.
None of these men were paid or had any training. They had to do their duties as well as their own jobs, so you can imagine that not many people wanted to be a constable.
They served for one year without pay, and often were not allowed to finish their duties by the courts unless they could find someone else to take over.
Although the government encouraged counties like Breconshire to set up a County Constabulary or police force at the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, Breconshire did not. Instead the County appointed a number of paid Superintendent Constables to oversee the local parish constables and give them support.
In autumn 1850 orders were made by the magistrates for giving these Superintendent Constables a proper uniform. The picture (right) shows what they may have looked like.


Victorian PCIn 1856 the government introduced a law which forced counties to set up proper police forces. The Breconshire Constabulary was formed the following year.
It was a hard life being a policeman in Victorian Breconshire. The constables worked seven days a week, and between 10 and 12 hours per day. They had to patrol a large area on foot and didn't even get their boots paid for until 1873.
At least the police at Crickhowell and Brynmawr had colleagues they could call on if things got rough. The constable at Gilwern had to cope with things on his own. There was no calling for back up in Victorian times !

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The authorities realised that policing the fast growing communities of the Clydach valley would need more policemen than the quieter rural areas.
While a sergeant and a constable were based at Crickhowell, Brynmawr had a superintendent, a sergeant and 2 constables. Another constable was based at Gilwern.
The superintendent was lucky. He was given an allowance to keep a horse.
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