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Thursday, 4 July 2013

4 July 1836: The Dublin Police Act of 1836 established the Dublin Metropolitan Police on this day.

4 July 1836:  The Dublin Police Act of 1836 established the Dublin Metropolitan Police on this day. It was set up to regularise the policing of Ireland’s Capital City and was based on a template of Sir Robert Peel’s London Metropolitan Police. The Constables were under the direct command of a Chief Commissioner and the remit of the force was almost exclusively within the urban areas of the metropolis. The DMP mainly consisted within its ranks of countrymen of good physic and of a basic education. The hours were long and conditions frugal but it proved a magnet in a Country with so many heading for the boat. Each member was a full time policeman and based in the City. The force was  unarmed except for a small detective force and the carrying of arms at ceremonial occasions or on specific guard duty.

Though it was latter to gain some notoriety in the Lock Out of 1913 and in the political turbulence that occurred between 1916-1921 it was generally considered to be a disciplined force and retained the confidence most of the city’s inhabitants till the end. Even though established in 1836 it did not become operational until January 1838 and remained in existence until it was amalgamated with the Garda Síochána in 1925.

Their status as an Imperial police force did not endear them to some of their fellow citizens but the DMP do not seem to have received the same opprobrium as their colleagues in the Royal Irish Constabulary. Unlike the RIC they did not, as a rule, carry firearms. Apart from ceremonial duties and the protection of specific individuals weapons were only carried by the ‘ G ’ Division, which investigated serious crime in the city. The ordinary constables were only allowed to carry truncheons. The vast majority of crimes and misdemeanours brought before the city courts were for petty thefts, drunkenness, prostitution, infringements of the highway codes, breaches of the public health etc. Serious violent crime was a rarity. While Dublin had a higher overall crime rate than most of the other cities in Britain or Ireland it was a relatively peaceful city for those living outside the overcrowded slums.

While never a greatly popular force with Dubliners the DMP had nevertheless proved to be a magnet to men (mostly countrymen) in search of secure employment in the city with a guaranteed pension at the end of their service. The pay was not great and the hours were long, at some 56 hours a week, but in a country where emigration was the only course open to so many the chance of a regular job in Dublin was attraction enough. The men were of above average build and height, many of them touching nearly six feet in their socks. Among the generally undersized citizenry of Dublin they certainly stood out as men not to be trifled with!

Between 1836 and 1925 some 12,500 men served in the DMP and in its final years the Force had around 1,100 constables available for duty in any 24 hour period.

When the Irish Free State came into existence in 1921/1922 it was decided by the new government to amalgamate the old DMP with the new police force - the Garda Síochána. Kevin O'Higgins the Minister of Justice appointed Major General WRE Murphy to oversee its final years and in April 1925 the DMP ceased its patrols on the streets of Dublin.