Watch committee

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"Sat on the Fence"; J. M. Staniforth. The Cardiff Watch Committee literally sits on the fence on the matter of deputising either a member of the Catholic church (represented by a bulldog) and a Protestant candidate (represented by a bull).

In England and Wales, watch committees were the local government bodies which oversaw policing from 1835 until, in some areas, 1968.


The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 required each borough to establish a "watch committee" and to appoint constables to 'preserve the peace'.


From 1889 counties switched to using "standing joint committees" which also had magistrates among their members. For police forces working within a single borough, watch committees were retained.

The Police Act of 1964 replaced both sets of bodies with police authorities, comprising two-thirds elected members of county or borough councils, and one-third magistrates.


  • Municipal Corporations Act 1835
  • Police Act 1964