Policing in Nottinghamshire started in 1840, although separate town-based forces in Nottingham, Newark-on-Trent and Retford had existed since 1836.
The birth of police forces in London and the rest of England in the first half of the 19th century followed a general rise in crime across the country – and Nottingham was no exception. In 1831, for example, riots provoked by the rejection of the Reform Bill by the House of Lords led to Nottingham Castle being burned down.
The size of the county constabulary upon its creation in 1840 was just 42 – one chief constable, eight superintendents and 33 constables. In 1841, after five years as an independent force, Retford Borough Police became part of the county force. In 1854, with an increasing amount of detective work to be done, Nottingham Borough Police set up the county’s first CID section.
By the turn of the century the county force had 200 officers, including nine inspectors and 27 sergeants. In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War imminent, the first Nottinghamshire special constables were appointed. Five years later the force in Nottingham, which was now a city, recruited its first woman constable, although the first women to serve in the county police were not appointed until 1946.
In 1932 the city force was the first in the country to introduce walkie-talkie radios, and another innovation came the following year with the opening of the first forensic science laboratory in a provincial police force.
Newark Borough Police existed in its own right until 1947 when it was amalgamated with the Nottinghamshire Constabulary. The present Nottinghamshire Police was, in effect, formed in 1968 upon the merger of the county and city police forces.