In the early nineteenth century the city authorities realised that the out-dated medieval system of constables wasn’t working as crime was rising.
In September 1836 Inspector Stuart came from London to visit York to write a report on the city’s policing. He recommended twenty-four police officers, a superintendent, three sergeants and twenty constables. He also suggested dividing the city into fifteen night beats which would be patrolled by two sergeants and fifteen constables, with one sergeant and four constables always on duty and one constable at the police station in reserve. He was however told that this was excessive and the number of beats was reduced to twelve with twenty-one men.
Inspector Stuart also recommended that officers should be under 35, with good reading and writing skills and over 5 foot 7 inches in height. He also suggested a new police station as the current premises were at St. Andrewgate and shared with the city’s coal inspector. It was agreed that a nice police station should be acquired, and in May 1837 cottages on Silver Street were leased from the City Commissioners for an annual rent of 22 pounds.
In 1848 a report by Frederick Hill, Inspector of Prisons, recommended a new police station to contain offices, a magistrates’ room and also male and female cells. However the city authorities thought that this would be just too expensive, including the railway investor George Leeman.