This is a story from September 1866 and it concerns an incident on Wind Street. Nothing unusual there you might think. But wait.
Catherine Williams, the wife of Lewis Williams, was standing at the bottom of Wind Street minding her own business entirely. She was with a pal of hers and it was ten minutes to midnight. Time to go home you might think. Certainly someone else thought so. Catherine was suddenly grabbed and pulled around. She was punched in the mouth and told to clear off home. Her chum was hit as well. Unfortunately it was a policeman who hit them. Well to be honest he wasn’t really a policeman. Yes he was acting as police man due to staff shortages and he was wearing the uniform, but he hadn’t yet been enrolled. He wasn’t a policeman at all.
Catherine ran to another policeman who directed her to the police station. Her mouth was bleeding. I am an unfortunate girl wailed Catherine. Well she wasn’t alone in that, since three other women turned up to complain too.
The constable was sent for. His name was William Armstrong and he was drunk and was unable to speak. Not perhaps the start to a glittering career that he had hoped for. He does not appear to have been offered either counselling or retraining. He was convicted and sent to the House of Correction with hard labour for two months.
It was certainly not the sort of incident that would encourage public confidence in nineteenth century policing. You can understand that. After all, when you were out on Wind Street late at night, it must have been disappointing to find out that the long arm of the law had a fist at the end of it.