Special Constables in Australia
The office of special constable was created to enhance police strength at times of unrest and
when the Police Force was in its infancy.
In August 1789, Governor Arthur Phillip established a night-watch which came under civil control. It consisted of eight of the best-behaved convicts in the Colony. This was the first Police force in the country.
The force was re-organised along English lines by Governor Hunter in 1796, with constables being placed under the control of local magistrates. It remained this way until January 1811, when a certain degree of centralised control was achieved by Governor Macquarie's appointment of D'Arcy Wenworth as Police Superintendent.
As the Colony expanded and the population grew a number of specialised forces were established. These included a Water Police force which was set up in Sydney c.1832, abolished in 1843 and re-established with the appointment of a Water Police Magistrate in 1847; the Native Police corps which operated mainly in northern New South Wales from 1848; and the Border Police, who were responsible to the Commissioners of Crown Lands for policing the land regulations in the remote Squatting Districts.
The most important of these specialised forces was the Mounted Police, which had the responsibility of protecting settlers in outlying areas as well as goods in transit on the roads. It was abolished in 1850. A Gold Escort was formed a year later in 1851 to provide safe passage for gold being transported from the diggings to Sydney.
SPECIAL CONSTABLE'S OATH
The following is the form of oath taken and subscribed by persons who enrol themselves as special constables :—
" I do swear I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady the Queen in the office of special constable for the city of Sydney without favor or affection, malice, or illwill, and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the
peace to be kept and preserved, and prevent all offences against the persons and properties of her Majesty's subjects, and that while I continue to hold the said office I will, to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully, according to law, so help me God,"