THESE photographs of groups of police officers hark back to the early days of policing Colchester.

Reader John Hyland, who lives in Colchester, sent in the images which show officers in 1945 and 1948 when they would have been members of Colchester Borough Police who had a number of successful sports teams.

The group of offices in 1945 are pictured just a couple of years before they became part of Essex Police as a whole.

As well a rugby players, Colchester was very well-known for its boxing team during the 1930s.

Before the 1820s and 1830 the system of policing the country was very different to the one we see today.

Sir Robert Peel’s Metropolitan Police had been formed in 1829 and was used as a model for police forces over the next 25 years, explain historians at Essex Police Museum.

In 1835, the Municipal Corporations Act declared each new chartered borough council should form a Watch Committee,

They were then given three weeks in which to employ constables who would preserve the peace within that borough.

As a result of this, Colchester Borough Police became one of the first provincial constabularies to be created, just six years after the Metropolitan Police and at the same time as Maldon and Harwich.

A year later a full-time force was formed in Colchester which was made up of 19 men and a Superintendent in charge who were all originally based in the Moot Hall.

The force then moved to the Town Hall, with 22 men working as policemen recorded in 1857.

As a garrison town, there was friction between the police in 1860 which led to the Army being given two rooms in West Stockwell Street to use as a base for its patrols.

During that time the force would have been keeping an eye on the running of more than 100 public houses and in excess of 30 beer houses.

There were around 33 men within the Colchester Borough Police department and in 1890 a river patrol was formed.

Its main role was to protect the Colne fisheries and eventually having three boats in their use.

Historians explain those who were recruited to the River Police were allowed to swim whilst on duty - but had to obviously be good swimmers.

By 1914, the River Police had increased and included an inspector but it was eventually disbanded in 1942.

ln 1907 the Borough force was increased to 49 men and, in 1912, Captain Hugh Stockwell took over as Chief Constable.

At this time, the first matron was appointed to look after female prisoners.

1940 the force move to the soldiers’ rest home in Queen Street, pictured here in the 1970s, which is where it stayed throughout the time it was amalgamated with Essex County Constabulary in 1947.

This was when it moved to the purpose built station on Southway where it is still based.

* Contact us on 01206 508186 if you have any vintage images.