28th May 1853

Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired

Guernsey has had “constables” since the 13th century. Yet, it wasn’t until 1853 that it started paying them. Four men were appointed to the position in St Peter Port and the posts have been maintained ever since. It could even be said that this, technically, marked the official start of the Guernsey Police force.

Police on trial

Although the constables were hired on 28 May, they didn’t actually begin performing their duties until 1 June. A budget of £160 had been approved for a year’s trial by a vote in the States of Deliberation. However, almost a third of the Deputies had been against the move. The vote was passed by a margin of 45 to 22.

At the end of a successful first year, the four constables were hired on a permanent basis. Although it’s impossible to know for sure, their success in convicting John Tapner for the murder of Elizabeth Sujon likely played a part in the renewal. Tapner was the last person ever to be executed in Guernsey.

An expanding team

The force grew slowly over the next few years. In 1881 a further two paid constables were hired, and the number increased again – to 12 – in 1902.

A dozen constables might not sound like many, but it should be remembered that in the early days the force was still a local affair covering only St Peter Port.

The States of Guernsey Police Service proper was established in 1915. Again, it had been brought into existance following a vote in the States of Deliberation. It had an inspector, two sergeants, two corporals and eleven constables. Six further constables were transferred from the St Peter Port force to perform island-wide duties.


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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st