Policing a Colonial Metropolis: from Moreton Bay to Brisbane
Dr Anastasia Dukova, Harry Gentle Visiting Fellow 2016/2017

This project explores the key aspects of town life and policing of today’s Brisbane in its transition years

Policing a Colonial Metropolis: from Moreton Bay to Brisbane

Exploring Policing of Pre-Separation Brisbane.

In 1859, Queensland gained political freedom by separating from New South Wales, but it inherited a policing system badly in need of reform. At this time, the settled area of the colony was divided into 17 districts, each with its own police force under a Chief Constable, who took orders from the local magistrate. As the population grew and the colonial landscape diversified so did the policing network; the Mounted Border Police, the Native Police and the Volunteer Force (cavalry and infantry) all co-existed with the town forces.

The project explores the aspects of early colonial town policing experiences. Simultaneously, by re-creating life and service stories of the early policemen, the project seeks to explore the key issues impacting these men’s service such as community integration and moral policing; property crime; violent crime and patrol duties; the treatment of indigenous communities; and sweeping administrative reforms in response to jurisdictional and administrative changes. By offering a manifold approach to narrating the history of policing in the early colonial metropolis, the project contributes much-needed nuance and complexity to our understanding of crime and policing of a fledging early colonial town and the experiences ‘on the job’ of very first men in blue.

About the project

This project has been developed from the research findings of Dr Anastasia Dukova in conjunction with Queensland Police Museum. Dr Dukova is currently an Adjunct Research Fellow with Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research and a Visiting Fellow at Griffith’s Harry Gentle Resource Centre, which is a digital portal of resources concerning the pre-Separation (pre-1859) history of Queensland. Anastasia is a policing historian specialising in the history of urban policing, with a primary focus on Ireland, nineteenth-century Australia and North America. She is particularly interested in the impact of Irish policing experience on the development of the colonial policing models. Anastasia is the historian behind an award-winning project Digital Colonial Brisbane. Her recent monographs are A History of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and Its Colonial Legacy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and Policing Colonial Brisbane (UQP, 2018). The current project aims to consolidate historical information regarding the key aspects of town life and policing of Brisbane in its transition years, from the halting of the transportation of convicts into the settlement in 1839, to establishment of Brisbane as a colonial capital in 1859. Utilising an array of primary records, the project investigates the challenges the nascent colonial town policemen, also known as foot policemen, faced. What was their day, or night, ‘on the job’ like? Who were these men?