INSTRUCTIONS TO CONSTABLES
Appointed under the Act of Parliament, 5 & 6 Victoria
cap. 109, and directed to be issued to them by the
COURT OF QUARTER SESSIONS OF THE PEACE,
COUNTY OF NORTHAMPTON.
It should be understood, and particularly observed, as a leading principle, that a chief object is the PREVENTION OF CRIME
To this great end every effort of the Constable should be directed : the security of person and property, and the preservation of the public peace will be thus better effected, than by the detection and punishment of an offender after crime has been committed.
Offences may be divided into Felonies and Misdemeanors.
THE: principal felonies are, murder, and attempts to murder, or maim, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and attempts to rob, burglary, house-breaking, cattle, horse, and sheep-steeling, stealing from the dwelling-house, the person, and theft generally, receiving stolen goods, embezzlement, &c. also setting fire to any house, out- building, stacks, or crops, and all cases of forging and coining. The milior oGnecs are called misdemeanors, Hall as Bands, uttering counterfeit coin,
The minor offences are called misdemeanors, such as frauds, uttering counterfeit coins riots, assaults, affrays, and such like offences.
Directions to Constables.
Power to Arrest
THE Constable may arrest one whom he has just cause to suspect to be about to commit a felony. Thus when a drunken person or a man in a violent passion, threatens the life of another, the Constable should interfere and arrest.
He should arrest any person having in his possession any picklock-key, crow jack, bit, or other implement with intent feloniously to break into any dwelling-house, warehouse, coach-house, stable, or out-building ; or any person armed with any gun, pistol, hanger cutlass, bludgeon, or offensive weapon ; or having upon him any instrument, with intent to commit any felonious act.
Every person found in any dwelling-house, warehouse, coach-house, out-house, or stable, or in any inclosed yard, garden, or area, and being there for any unlawful purpose, may be arrested.
In each of these cases the Constable must judge from the situation and behaviour of the party what his intention is. In some cases no doubt can exist, as when the party is a notorious thief, or acting with those who are thieves ; or when the party is seen to try people's pockets in a crowd, or to attempt to break into a house, or to endeavour to take any property secretly from another. The Constable will not act hastily, in case the intention is not clear, but content himself with watching closely the suspected party, that he may discover his design.
The Constable must arrest any one whom he sees in the act of committing a felony, or any one whom another positively charges with having committed a felony, or whom another suspects of having committed a felony, if the suspicion appear to the Constable to be well founded, and provided the person so suspecting go with the Constable.
Though no charge be made, yet if the Constable suspect a person to have committed a Felony he should arrest him : and if he have reasonable grounds for his suspicion he will be justified, even though it should afterwards appear that no Felony was in fact committed : but the Constable must be cautious in thus acting upon his own suspicions.
Generally, if the arrest was made discreetly and fairly in pursuit of an offender, and not from any private malice or ill-will, the Constable need not doubt that the law will protect him.
Power to detain suspicious Persons.
If, after sunset and before sunrising, the Constable shall see any one carrying a bundle or goods which he suspects were stolen, he should stop and examine the person, and detain him; but here, also, he should judge from circumstances (such as appearance and manner of the party, his account of himself, and the like) whether he has really got stolen goods, before he actually takes him into custody.
Power to enter Dwellings
The Constable must make every exertion to effect the arrest ; and the law gives him abundant power for the purpose. If the felon, or party accused of felony, fly, he may be immediately followed wherever he goes; and if he takes refuge in a house, the Constable may break open the doors, if necessary, to get in, first stating who he is, and his business ; but the breaking open outer doors is so dangerous a proceeding, that the Constable never should resort to it except in extreme cases, and when an immediate arrest is necessary.
There are some cases in which a Constable may and ought to break into a house, although no felony has been committed, when the necessity of the case will not admit of delay, as when persons are fighting furiously in a house, or when a house has been entered by others with a felonious intent, and a felony will probably be committed unless the Constable interfere, and there are no other means of entering : except in such cases, it is better, in general, that the Constable should wait till he has a warrant from a Magistrate for the purpose.
If a prisoner should escape he may be re-taken, and in immediate pursuit the Constable may follow him into any place or any house.
Powers to require persons to aid and assist.
If a Constable finds his exertions insufficient to effect the arrest, he ought to require all persons present to assist him, and they are bound to do so.
In cases of actual breaches of the peace, as riots, affrays, assaults, and the like, committed within the view of the Constable, he should immediately interfere, (first giving public notice of his Office, if he be not already known,) separate the combatants, and prevent others from joining in the affray. If the riot, &c. be of a serious nature, or if the offenders do not immediately desist, be should take them into custody, securing also the principal instigators of the tumult, and doing every thing in his power to restore quiet.
A Constable, in cases of assault which have not been committed in his presence, or within his view, is not aurthorized to arrest-- or assist in arresting the party charged ; nor is he to receive a person, so charged into his custody, unless the party has been arrested by some other Constable who saw the assault committed.
He may arrest any one assaulting or opposing him in the execution of his duty.
Powers to interfere in Assaults, and Affrays.
If a person forcibly enter the house of another, the Constable may, at the request of the owner, turn him out directly ; if he have entered peaceably, but having no right to enter, and the owner request the Constable to turn him out, the Constable should first re-quest him to go out, and unless he do so he should turn him out, in either case using no more force than is necessary for the purpose.
Powers to interfere when breach of the peace or violence is threatened.
When the offence has not yet been committed but where a breach of the peace is likely to take place, as when persons are openly preparing to fight, the Constable should take the parties concerned into custody ; if they fly into a house, or are, making preparations to fight within the house, the Constable should enter the house to prevent them, and likewise take the parties into custody ; and should the doors be closed he may break them open, if admission be refused, after giving notice of his office and his object in entering.
Execution of Warrents
If any party threaten with immediate personal violence, or offer to strike, the Constable should interfere and prevent a breach of the peace ; if one draw a weapon upon another attempting to strike, the Constable should take-him into custody. If persons be merely quarrelling or insulting each other by words, the Constable has no right to take them into custody, but should be ready to prevent a breach of the peace.
The Constable ought to arrest and take before a Justice, any person walking about the streets, and exposing to view in the street any obscene print or exhibition.
If a party charged with a Misdemeanor escape out of custody, he may be pursued immediately any where ; and if he take refuge in a house, the doors may be broken open after demand of admission, and after notification by the Constable of his office and object in coming.
After arrest the Constable is, in all cases, to treat a prisoner properly, and impose only such constraint upon him as may be necessary for his safe custody.
The Constable is bound to follow the directions contained in a Warrant, and to execute it with secrecy and dispatch ; the power given to him for the purpose of arresting has been already shown. If the Warrant cannot be executed immediately, it should be executed as soon as possible afterwards.
The Constable must execute the Warrant himself, or, when he calls in assistance, must be actually present. Upon all occasions he ought to state his authority if it be not generally known, and should show his Warrant when required to do so ; but he should never part with the possession of the Warrant, as it I may be wanted afterwards for his own justification.
Mode of Arrest.
Upon the arrest being made, the prisoner is to be taken before the Magistrate as soon as convenient. When the prisoner is brought to the Justice he still remains in custody of the Constable until his discharge or committal, or until the officer receives the orders of the Justice.
The Constable may enter a house to search for stolen goods, having first got a search Warrant from a Magistrate for that purpose. He should when it is possible so to do, execute it in the day time. If he finds the goods mentioned, he is to take them to a Magistrate, and, when the Warrant so directs, he Must take the person also in whose possession they are found. To avoid mistakes the person who applied for the Warrant ought to attend at the search to identify the goods.
Powers to apprehend Prostitutes, Vagrants, and disorderly persons.
The Constable has power to apprehend and carry before a Justice of the Peace every common prostitute wandering in the public streets, public highways, or in any place of public resort, behaving in a riotous or indecent manner ; every person wandering abroad, or placing himself or herself in any public street or highway, court or passage, to beg or gather alms, or causing, or procuring, or encouraging any child so to do, all such being declared by the law to be idle and disorderly persons ; every person wander abroad and lodging in any barn or out-house, or in any deserted or unoccupied building, or in the open air, or under a tent, or in any cart or wagon, not having any visible means of subsistence, and not giving a good account of himself or herself; every person wandering aboard and endeavouring, by the exposure of wounds or deformities,
Collecting Alms, &c.
to obtain or gather alms: every person going about as a gatherer or collector of alms, or endeavouring to procure charitable contributions of any nature or kind under any false or fraudulent pretence;
every person playing or betting in any street, road, highway, or other open or public place, at or with any table or instrument of gaming at any game or pretended game of chance.
In the cases above-mentioned the Constable has by law power to arrest.
Clerk of the Peace
August 1, 1843