The Glasgow Police Museum

Glasgow Police Museum
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Glasgow Police Museum

Located on Bell Street in the Merchant City, a quarter-mile (0.5 km) southeast of George Square, the Glasgow Police Museum charts the history of the City of Glasgow Police Force, from its inception in 1779 until its incorporation into the Strathclyde force in 1975. Opened in 2002, jointly by Alex Mosson, the Lord Provost of Glasgow, and William Rae, Chief Constable of Strathclyde, the museum originally occupied the old Central Police Office on St. Andrew's Square (dating from 1906). It moved to its current location in 2009 and is run by volunteers, most of whom are retired members of the Strathclyde Police Force. The museum includes thousands of artefacts and two principal exhibitions. The first explains the history of policing in the city while the second, the International Police Exhibition, represents a unique collection of more than 6500 items of insignia, headgear and uniforms from across the globe.

Interpretation boards explain how Glasgow had the first police force in Britain, founded in 1779, fifty years ahead of Sir Robert Peel's efforts in London, and comprising an Inspector and eight officers. The force was disbanded twice (in 1781 and 1790) due to lack of money, but the perseverence of the city fathers was rewarded when the Glasgow Police Act was passed in 1800. This was the first Police Act in Britain and became the model for elsewhere. The museum describes some of the personalities involved over the years, including displays of medals awarded to brave officers and some infamous criminals. Numerous photographs and documents are displayed alongside equipment such as helmets, communications devices and the different truncheons used in the different Glasgow Burghs.

Glasgow also had Britain's first police-boxes. Installed in 1891, these hexagonal boxes had a gas-lamp on the roof to alert officers to an incoming phone-call. While none of these early boxes remain, the museum has rescued a 'Mark 2' box, dating from 1913, which has been restored.

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