Royal Commission report day 14 page 14

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The Royal Commission evidence for 3/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 14)

Inspector Montfort giving evidence

3305 A man over forty or fifty would not be so efficient in the saddle as a younger man?— I suppose such would be the case, though I do not know it in my person. I am as well able to work as I was twenty years ago.

3306 As a general rule, would it be the case?— Yes, as a general rule. Men generally get heavier, and they have not the same amount of energy and fire as they grow older.

3307 Is it correct that your conclusion is that you do not think it would be fair to the police themselves, as they expect that promotion will go from the service; except for that, do you think that young, carefully prepared, and trained officers would be more efficient than the present system?— I think the Irish system is the best, if it had been carried out; that is, trained officers appointed by competitive examination, and regularly trained and drilled.

3308 And under probation?— Under probation, to see if they are proficient.

3309 And then promoted?— And then promoted; and, in isolated cases, where men were found suitable, they should be promoted from the ranks, as in the home force; but with the force here, as at present constituted, every man enters it with the understanding that he carries a marshal's baton in his knapsack—that he can rise to the highest rank if he conducts himself properly.

3310 Is there a feeling in the force against promoted men, as there is in other services, amongst the men themselves. Is there a feeling amongst the ordinary constables and sergeants against the men promoted as officers?— In connection with men promoted from the ranks, there is decidedly, amongst those who are aspirants themselves; a great number of men think they ought themselves to be promoted.

3311 In those promotions that are made, what is the difference of their pay when they are promoted and when they leave. What was your pay before you were promoted?— When I was promoted my pay was £14 5s. one month and £14 4s. 6d. another month. I was then with Mr. Hare.

3312 What did you get as sub-inspector?— £20 6s. 8d.

3313 Is that sufficient pay, in your opinion, for the difference between the officers and the expenses attending that position and sergeant's pay?— I do not think so.

3314 What year were you appointed?— I was recommended for promotion by Mr. Nicolson and Mr. Hare, Mr. Hare selected me in his office to go up to the North-Eastern district at the time of the Power outbreak, and subsequently I was ordered to meet him and Mr. Nicolson at a settler's station, and thence we went to the head of the King River, and I was with them when Power was taken, and the two officers did not themselves accept any remuneration on account of their services; they only asked for my promotion, and I was promoted.

3315 You think the Irish system would be a better one than that?— That would be the Irish system; I have spoken of.

3316 The questioning has been particularly with regard to officers so far—now I would like to ask what is the practice as regards the men and constables generally, the system that is adopted by the chief of police and the officers co-operating with him, in locating men; that is to say, supposing a constable was appointed to Melbourne, would he be appointed only for a given time or would he be there until he was ordered to remove; is there any system of interchange by which men will be kept moving about?— No system at all.

3317 In your opinion, do not you think that the efficiency of the police would be increased by having an interchange of that sort, so as to cause ordinary constables to be familiar with every district in the colony?— I think it would be very beneficial, but not for that reason alone.

3318 There are many others, but that is one?— Yes.

3319 What are the others?— When a constable is left too long in one place he gets property, surrounds himself with encumbrances of various sorts, and he seems at last to look after his own affairs a great deal more than the affairs of the police force.

3320 That would not apply to a district like the North-Eastern, where they need to know the criminal class?— There may be instances in which I do not know of my own knowledge, unfortunately; I know very few men who had money there, when I was there, because they were very active men, while activity there means spending money to get information.

3321 What difference is made between the single and the married men in appointments?— I never knew any difference. If a man is thought suitable he is sent to a certain place; of course at some stations it would be necessary to station a married man; in some stations the man's wife cooks for the station. In some there are quarters only for married men.

3322 Would that do in the North-Eastern district?— I have a great dislike to married men myself, but my opinion is not shared by every officer in the force.....

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