Royal Commission report day 3 page 3

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The Royal Commission evidence for 25/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 3 )

Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence

694 Has he been there long?- Yes.

695 Does he understand the routine of the office?- Perfectly.

696 Is it usual for the chief clerk to see all the official documents that come in for the head of the office?- Yes.

697 He would know all the routine of the office?- Yes, perfectly.

698 Did Captain Standish, at any time since the 12th of December until Tuesday last, make any complaints as to the way in which you administered the department when in Melbourne?- No.

699 Did Mr. Moors?- No. Of course Mr. Moors was subordinate.

700 But he can give evidence as to it, one way or the other?- Yes. Further, on that point, when I had occasion to see the Honorable the Acting Chief Secretary on police business-Sir Bryan O'Loghlen-I was always most careful to mark the distinction that I was merely acting, and that Captain Standish, who was away, was the Chief Commissioner of Police; and I took the liberty once or twice (I do not suppose I am breaking confidence) to suggest to Sir Bryan O'Loghlen the advisability of Captain Standish resuming his proper place down here, and my going up there in his place.

701 You said just now that you were appointed some time between the 12th of December 1878 and the time of your resuming duty in the North Eastern district in July. You were then appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police?- Yes. I was appointed assistant before; I was then acting.

702 When were you appointed assistant?- Long before that.

703 Can you give the date of that?-[The witness having examined certain papers, was requested to hand in a Note of all his appointments, with their dates, from his joining the force, which is as follows]:- "Lieutenant, 14/2/55; Sub inspector, 31/1/56; Inspector, 2nd Class,20/6/56; in charge of Detectives, 5/8/56; Superintendent of Detectives, 11/0/57; Inspecting Superintendent, 15/1/73; Assistant Commissioner, 13/12/78; Acting Chief Commissioner of Police, 13/9/80." I spent a few days in looking over the reports and seeing what had been done on my return to Benalla.

704 That was on the 3rd of July?- Yes.

705 In what state was the correspondence?- It consisted of letters and telegrams that come in from the public and the police to the police authorities and the Chief Commissioner.

706 Were you then talking charge of the papers that Mr. Hare and Captain Standish had in charge in your absence?- Yes; all correspondence.

707 In what state were the correspondence and telegrams-were they properly filed in rotation? - Yes. The Chief Commissioner was in Melbourne. I relieved Mr. Hare.

708 Before you arrived in Benalla he had left?- Yes; and I relieved Mr. Hare. A large portion of the strength of the force and of the military had been withdrawn, and the force reduced.

709 You have not said when they were sent there?- They were sent there immediately after the Euroa robbery.

710 And after your removal?- Yes; and large reinforcements of police.

711 By whose orders were they sent?- At the request of the Chief Commissioner they were sent by the Government. The Chief Commissioner ordered the police up, not the military. There was a portion of the military still left. I had then to set about re organising the arrangements of the stations and the strength of the stations.

712 Are we to understand that the military were withdrawn immediately preceding your arrival?- Yes; a large portion.

713 The change took place simultaneously with your going up?- Yes; the horses also. I set to and re organized the men on this basis, and adopted this view, that with the materials at my command my best course to adopt was to secure places from outrage where there was treasure, so that the outlaws would be baffled in any attempt to replenish their coffers or to get more money. I stationed at Wodonga a small party of men under Sergeant Harkin at Wodonga; the same at Wangaratta, under Sergeant Steele; the same at Bright, under Senior Constable Shoebridge; and the same at Mansfield, under Sub Inspector Toohey and Sub Inspector Pewtress. At each of those places there was barely strength enough for a search party, but they could make up a fair party-seven or eight-by calling in men from neighboring stations. The only place where a complete search party was kept was Benalla. I provided for that subsequently, at the suggestion of Mr. Sadleir. I instructed the police throughout the district to arrange to get quietly and secretly from two to four townsmen of the right sort-that was the expression I used- would turn out and aid them in case of an attack by the outlaws in any of the townships. ...

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