The Oxford City Police force came into operation on the 1st January 1869, under the authority of the Oxford Police Act 1868. On this date a 15 member Police Committee, or 'Watch Committee', composed of 6 individuals put forward by the University and the remainder nominated by the City Council, became responsible for the running of the new force. Before this date, policing of the City had been split between day and night, with daytime responsibility customarily falling to the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City and, upon nightfall, to the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University. A few records which relate to the policing of the City before the Oxford City Police Force came into existence are listed in the Petty Sessions catalogue under the reference 'PS/7' and these include Police Duty Attendance and Report Books. There are also early Occurrence Books, dated from 5th October 1829 to 1st January 1869, held at the Bodleian Library under the reference: MSS Top Oxon b.129-b.162.
Civic representation on the Police Committee increased with the passing of a further Oxford Police Act in 1881, which began a trend towards increasing control of the Force by the City, until, on the 1st April 1968, almost 100 years after the creation of the Oxford City Police Force, it ceased to exist as an individual entity and amalgamated with the Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Reading Borough Forces to become the Thames Valley Constabulary, which was later renamed the Thames Valley Police. It appears that the amalgamation of the Force not only resulted in the termination of Oxford City Police Committee records, due to the creation of a new regional committee, but also gave rise to a complete re-organisation of police record-keeping, based on the fact that all the material in this collection, excepting one Old Comrades Association Minute Book, dates to before April 1968 and, thus, forms a distinct collection.
These records relate to the internal functioning of the Force, as well as to day-to-day operations and they include the records of the Police Committee, mentioned above, and of the Police Federation, which was set up under the Police Act of 1919 to represent ordinary policemen in any employer-employee negotiations. The types of records which are completely absent from this collection are those which were collated and/or retained by individual policemen, such as Beat Books, Note Books and Pocket Books, although examples of these records, once in the possession of Oxford City Policemen, can be seen in the Thames Valley Police Museum, Sulhamstead, Berkshire.
The Collection is divided into 4 sections or sub-fonds as follows:
POL1/1 - Records generated by the Oxford City Police Force
POL1/2 - Records of the Oxford City Police Committee
POL1/3 - Records of the Oxford City Police Federation
POL1/4 - Records of the Oxford City Police Old Comrades' Association
The first section is by the far the largest and is ordered as follows:
POL1/1/1/A3-A13 - Operational records generated upon contact with the public and/or first notification of crimes
POL1/1/1/A14-A21 - Other operational records relating to the frontline work of the Police Force
POL1/1/A22-PR5 - Records relating to the internal organisation and functioning of the Police Force
The record groupings, or 'series', illustrate how the reporting of incidents and crimes developed during the period. From the very beginning of the City Police Force, 'Occurrence', 'Larceny' and 'Crime Books' were used to record incidents reported in person by constables or by members of the public visiting the police station. Then, from 1938, with the increasing use of telephones between the Wars, 'Minute Books' came into being to record telephone messages from members of the public, as well as calls relating to internal and operational matters. However, following the introduction of the '999' emergency calls system from 1946 and the opening of a Control Room attached to the Switchboard to fulfill the role of providing instructions to mobile police units in April 1951, Minute Books became strictly of use for internal calls and to record operational information and from 1952 external calls were noted in 'Telephone Books', no doubt by Switchboard staff. The situation further changed, however, in 1959, when '999' calls and other calls from the public disappeared from Telephone Books to appear in new 'Master Logs', which became known as 'Control Room Log Books' in 1967.
The second largest section of this collection is composed of Oxford Police Federation records. These tend to date to the nineteenth century and it may be that a further deposit of twentieth century Police Committee records will be received in the future. Perhaps surprisingly, this early Committee material includes financial records relating to the Oxford City Gaol, suggesting that when the Committee was first set up it was given responsibity for running the Gaol as well as the Police Force. The Police Committee Minute Books, including one for the Committee which helped to police the City before 1869, are held at the Oxford City Council under the references: HH.1/1-33 & HH.2/1-2 and these date from 1836-1964.
This collection was created from an amalgamation of 4 individual deposits or accessions. The largest accession, number 3367, was transferred from the Local Studies Library at Westgate, Oxford in January 1992, after library staff had collected the material direct from St. Aldates Police Station. This accession included Police Court Registers, Rough Court Books and Licensing Registers which were found to extend existing series in the Oxfordshire Petty Sessions collection and, therefore, these records have been catalogued with these Petty Sessions records (see reference: PS7). The next oldest accession was deposited in October 1997 and contained Oxford City Police Federation and Old Comrades Association Minute Books and in December 1999 the Record Office received a third accession which included one Police Pension Fund Ledger (Acc 4680). The last Accession, number 4950, was received from Oxford City Council in January 2002 and contained the Police Committee material.
All records which describe actual crimes committed are closed for the lifetime of any victim and/or offender in order to comply with Data Protection legislation and the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. To ensure compliance with these laws, the following record groups or series are deemed to be closed for 100 years from creation:
Control Room Log Books
Registers of Minor Offences
Index of Incidents and Crimes
Refused Charge Books
Indictable Offences Caution Registers
Crime Warrant Registers
Register of Convicts on Licence
Lists of Former Convictions
Record Books of Cases
The Following personnel records are closed for 75 years from creation, due to the occasionally sensitive nature of their contents:
Registers of Conduct