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Economy, Efficiency and Impartiality: Police Centralisation in Nineteenth Century Tasmania


Petrow, S, Economy, Efficiency and Impartiality: Police Centralisation in Nineteenth Century Tasmania, The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 31, (3) pp. 242-266. ISSN 0004-8658 (1998) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1177/000486589803100303


In late nineteenth century Australia, Tasmania was the only colony with a decentralised policing system. Despite its uniqueness, few Australian scholars have analysed how this policing system operated in practice or fully explained why centralisation was introduced in 1899. After briefly examining the reasons why decentralisation was introduced in 1858, this paper considers the numerous criticisms of the system. These included the failure of municipal police forces to impartially and uniformly enforce the laws passed by parliament, the lack of co-operation between forces, and, with each of the 21 forces being headed by a superintendent, the excessive cost of separate forces. A select committee of 1886 confirmed weaknesses in the system and thereafter successive ministries, seeking more efficient and rational government, campaigned for police centralisation. Municipal opposition was only overcome when the Braddon government bribed the municipalities with substantial financial relief and persuaded them that municipal government would be strengthened by relinquishing the burden of controlling the police.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Petrow, S (Professor Stefan Petrow)
ID Code:13485
Year Published:1998
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:History and Classics
Deposited On:1998-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-08

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