Police records

The records of Grampian Police and its predecessor forces were transferred to the archives between 2014 and 2016 by Police Scotland. The collection includes records of the following forces (with collection reference in brackets):

  • Aberdeenshire Constabulary (POL/A)
  • Aberdeen City Police (POL/AC)
  • Banffshire Constabulary (POL/B)
  • Elginshire, Morayshire and Moray and Nairn Constabularies (POL/E)
  • Elgin Burgh Police (POL/EB)
  • Grampian Police (POL/GP)
  • Kincardineshire Constabulary (POL/K)
  • Nairnshire Constabulary (POL/N)
  • Scottish North Eastern Counties Constabulary (POL/S)

The collection also includes records of the Aberdeen Wednesday Welfare Football Association (reference POL/W), which Aberdeen City Police seemed to have participated in, and various miscellaneous items relating to law enforcement in the north east (reference POL/U).

Please note that access to some records is restricted under the terms of the Data Protection Act, and other records are exempt from disclosure under section 34 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. Decisions on access to records that may be exempted from disclosure lies with Police Scotland.

History of policing in the North East

Grampian Police was a regional police force, formed in 1975 from the merger of the Scottish North East Counties Constabulary and the Aberdeen City Police. It covered the local authority areas of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray, and its operations were overseen by a police authority with representatives from each of the three local authorities. Its headquarters were in Queen Street, Aberdeen. In 2013 the eight regional police forces were merged to form Police Scotland, the national police force for Scotland.

The Aberdeen City Police force was formed in 1818 by the Aberdeen Police Act. Prior to the formation of the force day time law enforcement had been provided by the Burgh's Town Sergeants, who answered to the burgh's magistrates and Town Council. The Aberdeen Police Act of 1795 had established Police Commissioner for the burgh (see CA/9) but did not provide for an body to enforce the law. A Night Watch, funded by the public subscription, was set up at the end of 1816 and supervised by the Police Commissioners. The Day and Night Patrols were eventually merged into one unit in 1840. The force's headquarters were located at: 9 Huxter Row, 1820 - 1867; the Old Record Office, Castle Street, 1867 - 1870; Concert Court, 1870 - 1895; Lodge Walk, 1895 - 1972; Queen Street, 1972 - 1975. For a history of the force see "The Diced Cap: The Story of Aberdeen City Police", available in both searchrooms.

The Scottish North East Counties Constabulary (SNECC) was an amalgamated police force, formed by the merger of Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, Kincardineshire and Moray and Nairn Constabularies in 1949. From 1964 the force's headquarters were at Bucksburn.

Aberdeenshire Constabulary (est. 1840), Banffshire Constabulary (est. 1840), Kincardineshire Constabulary (est. 1841)and Elginshire Constabulary (est. 1844) were all county constabularies overseen by the relevant county's Commissioners of Supply under the Rural Police (Scotland) Act 1839. Nairnshire Constabulary was formed in 1850. The county constabularies were initially administered by a Police Committee made up of the county's Commissioners of Supply, Lord Lieutenant and Sheriff of Aberdeen. In 1889 administrative control of the county constabularies was transferred to a Standing Joint Committee, made up equally of County Councillors and the Commissioners of Supply, along with the Sheriff Principal.

Elgin Burgh Police were absorbed into the Elginshire Constabulary in 1893, after amalgamating in 1886/87 with the Forres and Nairn Burgh forces (both formed in 1859). Elginshire Constabulary became Morayshire Constabulary in 1890, and was amalgamated with the Nairnshire Constabulary in 1930 to form the amalgamated Moray and Nairn Constabulary.

Types of records and the information they contain

Criminal records

Records relating to criminals in the Police collection include:

  • Wanted Posters for crimes around the UK (series references POL/A/8, POL/B/9/4 and POL/E/7)
  • Detention, Offenders and Complaint Registers
  • Chief Constable's annual reports can include crime statistics for their area, illustrating changes in crime rates, the emergence of new offences, and reduction in other crimes.
  • City Police Register of returned convicts 1869 – 1939 (POL/AC/6/6) – for individuals released on licence, recording details about their offence, appearance and place of residence. The volume includes photographs for 61 licence holders released between 1869 and 1897. This register is also the subject of our Criminal Portraits blog, which looks into the background of each of the convicts.
  • Register of Prisoners released from Perth Prison between 1882 and 1884 (POL/AC/6/7)

Our Burgh Police Court Registers may also be of interest: they cover minor offences tried in Burgh Police Courts. 

Staff records

Staff records for each force with unrestricted access are detailed below. Other staff records are held in the collection, but access to these records is restricted under the terms of the Data Protection Act.

  • Aberdeenshire Constabulary: Staff Defaulters book, 1858-1860 (POL/A/5/1); 1885-1921 (POL/A/5/2)
  • Aberdeen City Police: Roll of Watchmen on duty, 1831-1832 (POL/AC/7/1); Personnel Registers, 1885-1929 (POL/AC/7/2-4); Affirmation and declaration books, 1891-1935 (POL/AC/7/6 - 7); Personnel record cards for police officers and special constables, c. 1940 (POL/AC/7/8, 14-15); Police pensions register, 1921-1974 (POL/AC/7/12). Please note that information about City Police officers can also be found in Post Office Directories, available through the National Library of Scotland website.
  • Banffshire Constabulary: Personnel register, 1920-1965 (POL/B/5/1 and POL/K/3/2)
  • Elginshire Constabulary: Appointment and declaration book, 1848-1869 (POL/E/4/1); Appointments register, 1858-1876 (POL/E/4/2); Personnel register,1871-1887 (POL/E/4/3)
  • Elgin Burgh Police: Register of appointments of police officers, 1886 - 1892 (POL/EB/3)
  • Kincardineshire Constabulary: Personnel register, 1887 - 1965 (POL/K/3/1-2)
  • Nairnshire Constabulary: Personnel register, 1858-1920 (POL/N/2)
  • SNECC: Leaving Certificate Stubs,1949-1959 (POL/S/4/3)

Volunteers have produced indexes of the following Police Personnel Registers: these are a valuable source for family historians, but also provide evidence of emigration and service in the First World War. Please note more information is recorded in the register than is provided in the index. You can view the registers at Old Aberdeen House or contact archives@aberdeencity.gov.uk to arrange for a copy to be made for a charge.


General orders and regulations can reveal the priorities of the police at certain times. Occurrence books for individual stations give a glimpse into the day-to-day life of police officers in the past. Annual reports, minutes and other material can show the emergence of new crime detection methods.

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