The Constable's Staff.

Photo:Staffs, or truncheons, were used by the police force for practical and ceremonial purposes. They were both a weapon and a badge of office. Constables did not begin wearing uniforms until 1829 or carrying warrant cards until the 1880s; before this time, the staff indicated the constable was acting under the authority of the crown by displaying the royal crown and cipher on the staff.

Staffs, or truncheons, were used by the police force for practical and ceremonial purposes. They were both a weapon and a badge of office. Constables did not begin wearing uniforms until 1829 or carrying warrant cards until the 1880s; before this time, the staff indicated the constable was acting under the authority of the crown by displaying the royal crown and cipher on the staff.

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David Rowland

Poune's Complaint

Thomas Hayter Chase aged 30 years was the next Chief Constable after Henry Solomon being appointed in 1844. It is clear that Hayter had a very chequered career as the Chief Officer and some may say that he wasn’t the ideal person to take over the reigns of the Brighton Police Force. He was, at this time the Chief Constable of the Isle of Wight.

There were 8 senior policemen who applied to be Brighton’s next Chief Constable and at the second vote it was Chase who was selected.

Two years after being selected he applied for a pay rise but the request was turned down by the Commissioners. Then in June 1850 he applied once again for a pay rise but that was rejected and no increase had been voted by August 1851.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Constable's Staff.' page

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In the same year Chase ran into trouble for the first time. A respectable citizen named John Poune was in possession of a Constable’s staff. (It is the one currently on display at the Old Cells Police Museum) The Staff had been given to him by Thomas Palmer in 1829 as a friendly present.

Chase met John Poune in the street, near the Town Hall while he was carrying the staff. Chase quickly formed the impression that Poune had stolen the staff from one of the town’s officers. Chase stopped Poune and ordered him to hand the staff over to him. An argument broke out, as Chase ordered him to hand over the Staff on the threat of being arrested for theft. Poune, by this time was seething mad with the Chief Constable and flatly refused to hand it over to Chase; a struggle broke out and eventually Chase wrenched the staff from Poune’s hand, and arrested him.

Poune made an official complaint against Chase to the Town’s Commissioners at the Town Hall, against Chase and was able to prove the staff was his property and where he had got it from.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Constable's Staff.' page

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The Commissioners recorded that the conduct of Chase in wrestling the staff from Poune was ‘unjustifiable’ and Chase was made to return the staff and make a public apology to Poune.

This ‘Public apology was done by Chase as he stood on the steps outside the Town Hall, on the north side. This must have been a very humiliating experience, especially as quite a large crowd had gathered there to watch and listen.

Chase was involved in several different wrongful incidents and was eventually dismissed by the Town Commissioners from his Chief Officer’s job in 1853.

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Welcome to the Finsbury Publishing

David Rowland has just launched his 15th and final book, "The Spirit of Winsome Winn II", all about the B-17 Flying Fortress which crashed at Patcham after being hit by anti-aircraft fire over Germany.

This page was added by Paul Beaken on 30/12/2014.