As Chairman of the Glasgow Police Heritage Society I feel I must point out a key historical inaccuracy in your article “City police a force for 200 years” (your report, 31 January) which has resulted in the tenor of your story leading your readers to believe that there was no policing before Edinburgh City Police in 1805.
We obviously welcome the recognition any historical police force receives, but your article does not acknowledge that the City of Glasgow Police was formed on the 30 June 1800 under the Glasgow Police Act 1800, when Robert Peel was just 12 years of age. This was the UK’s first police act.
Having had two previous police forces in the city fail through lack of finance (1779-81 and 1789-91), the Glasgow Police Act 1800 gave magistrates power to set up the force under an elected board and introduced a property tax, the “Police Rate”, to pay for it.
So your assertion that, “It is now 200 years since the Edinburgh City Police Act was passed and the concept of a modern city-wide police force was born”, is historically inaccurate in that Glasgow Police had been in existence for five years at that point. Its pioneering procedures and mechanism for sustainability were well-established and available for any city or burgh to emulate and another ten cities and burghs in Scotland did just that, before 1829.
While it is right that we should counter claims from London that Peel invented policing in 1829 (the Met was the UK’s 16th police force to be formed), thorough research of document sources is essential, thereby avoiding inaccurate historical assertions being committed to print, the key point in your article being an obvious example.
Chairman, Glasgow Police Heritage Society
Bell Street, Glasgow