1920 Police Association Formed

Although public opinion was against police unions, calls for the formation of a union increased after WW1 fuelled by the widespread belief among police that they had the right to have matters of punishment and promotion heard by an independent body, not just the Inspector General.

A small group of police including Betram Fortescue, the Association’s first General Secretary, and Seargent William MacKay, who later became the Commissioner of Police, presented a proposal to the Inspector General James Mitchell with the objectives to promote the interests of police by every means consistent with the regulations and with loyalty to the government.

It was a bold move for these officers to call for an association as they had sworn to obey every direction of the Inspector General and were prohibited from making any comment, expressing any opinion or taking action which could be perceived as going against the inspector general’s and the departments interests. Penalties for those who had previously tried to speak their mind was swift and severe, therefore the threat of retribution was ever present. A week after the meeting with the inspector general, approximately 100 police gathered at the Police Depot in Bourne Street Redfern where the Chief Secretary James Dooley addressed the gathering and indicated his support for the establishment of a police association.

PANSW Magazinge January Edition Page 5, First Secretary and First President, Circa 1920.