History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2019-04-01

The Swedish Police System in former Days

Introduction

There was no police system in Sweden, as we know the Police of today, until the 18th century. In the cities, local governments were made responsible for law and order, by way of a royal decree issued by King Magnus III in the 13th century. The cities financed and organized various watchmen, who patrolled the streets. It was the City Magistrate that supervised that law and order was upheld by the appointed law enforcement agencies in the city. A special department, the Politikollegiet, was responsible for this.

The Burgher Watch (Burvakten)

The first police system was the cities’ own watch, the Burgher Watch. Form the early middle ages, the cities were surrounded by a city wall. The gates were guarded and everyone entering the city with merchandise for sale had to pay a tax. The gates were closed at night. In the middle ages, the uphold of law and order were up to the burghers in the cities. There was no reimbursement for this. The burghers were also obliged to defend the city in case war. Guarding castles and fortresses was the responsibility of the army. The responsibilities of the Burgher Watch were: 1. Maintaining order in the city at nights 2. Manning the Fire Watch (Brandvakt) which included patrolling the streets of the city looking out for fires every night 3. Act as a defense force in times of war The patrols were sent out each night when the city gates were closed. This was a responsibility and an obligation that each burgher in the city had to fulfill according to a schedule. This was of course an unpopular duty. In daytime the upholding of law and order was done by the so-called bysvennerna or stadstjänarna. They were employed by the Mayor and the city council and were a mixture of street police officers and bailiffs. They were paid as civil servants.

The City Watch (Stadsvakten)

In Stockholm, a special City Watch was organized in 1594. This was a permanent watch with employed guards paid by the city, i.e. the burghers. The City Watch was organized as a military unit with enlisted men dressed in uniform under the command of a captain (stadskapten). The Captain was subordinated the Politikollegiet in the city. This watch was later renamed to the Stockholm City Company. The main duty of the City Watch was to patrol the streets of Stockholm and guarding the city gates. They were also to assist in case of a fire by fencing off the area on fire and to guard personal estate rescued in the fire. In 1634 there were 24 watchmen in the City Watch and in 1659 they numbered 100 guards. The City Watch’s quarters were at the main square (Stortorget) in the old town. The City Watch had the right to arrest anyone committing crimes of violence or theft. From 1682 they were allowed to open fire when attacked or interfered in their line of duty. The watchmen in the City Watch were armed with swords/rapiers, partisans and muskets. A partisan was a type of polearm that consisted of a spearhead mounted on a long shaft, usually wooden, with protrusions on the sides which aided in parrying sword thrusts. The watchmen in the City Watch weren’t very popular by the townspeople and were nicknamed Korvar (Sausages) or Korvknektar (Sausage Guards).

The Garrison Guards (Garnisonsvakten)

The City Watch wasn’t enough to uphold law and order in Stockholm. There were several regiments garrisoned in Stockholm and they also participated in maintaining the order of the streets of Stockholm. These military units were posted in several places in Stockholm and were patrolling the streets at night. Each patrol consisted of a corporal and six soldiers. However, the military patrols and the City Watch operated independent of each other. The City Watch had no capacity to investigate criminal cases. Instead criminal cases were investigated by the Life Guards, which had a special department for this.

The Fire Watch (Brandvakten)

The Fire Watch as well as the Burgher Watch was dependent of the burghers’ direct and voluntary participation. The first fire regulation in Stockholm was issued in May 1661. The city was then divided into 4 districts and one and each of these into several sub districts. In each district a master fireman was appointed and in each sub district a deputy fireman. Each house in Stockholm was obliged to keep a ladder, a fire ax and fire buckets available for firefighting purposes. When the fire bell (vårdklockan) rang in the evening it was no longer allowed to keep a fire going or candles burning in the houses until the next morning. Special fire watchers patrolled the city during nights. Together with the City Watch they upheld the order in the city at nights. There were also fire watchers (tornväktare) posted in many church towers in the city. The fire watchers sent an alarm if they spotted a fire by ringing the fire bells. They also used special signal flags and lanterns to state in which district there was a fire. A special Fire Watch Corps was established in 1730 under the command of a fire captain. The fire watchmen of the corps patrolled the city streets between 10 in the evening and 6 in the morning. There were two watchmen in each patrol and the patrols were assigned a specific district. Each patrol was equipped with a fire hook mounted on a long wooden shaft known as brandhake or väktarsax. Soon these hooks were equipped with a hoop. The hoop made it possible to trap troublemakers and keep them at an arms-length distance until reinforcements arrived. The image to the right shows a fire watchman with a fire hook. The hoop in the hook is called “bygel” in Swedish which became byling and the fire watchmen were nicknamed byling. The other end of the shaft had an iron shod and in an emergency the watchman repeatedly thrust the shaft to the stone paved street to warn and awake people in a house on fire. The image to the left shows a fire hook with a hoop. Photo Hans Högman 2011, Sigtuna town hall. The fire watchmen worked every two days. When they weren’t on duty they were entitled to be engaged in trade in the city. There were 188 fire watchmen in Stockholm in 1757 and in 1788 fully 200. The uniform consisted in 1760 of a blue coat of broadcloth, blue vest and blue trousers, black hat and knee-boots. Above the coat the watchmen wore a long scarf of wool wrapped around the body forming a cross tied around the waist. The image to the right shows a fire watchman in uniform. Photo Hans Högman, 2004, Old Linköping. Together the fire watch, the city watch and the garrison guards formed system of law enforcement in the cities which shows a resemblance with today’s uniformed police.

The City Watch in the 1700s

A new Captain of the City Watch in Stockholm was appointed in 1720. He was Nils Hulling, a non-commissioned officer of the Royal Life Guards. Hulling gradually changed how police work was organized in Stockholm, modeled after how law enforcement was organized in Paris at the time. One of the first steps he made was to split the City Watch into two units. The new unit was named the Separation Watch (Sepatationsvakten) and was manned with 20 less qualified watchmen of the City Watch. The task of the Separation Watch was to keep after vagrants and beggars and to guard the members of the house of correction when they were doing street cleaning. The Separation Watch was under the command of a Corporal and wore gray uniforms with blue cuffs. These watchmen were armed with sabers and their nickname was “paltar”. The image to the right show watchmen in the Separation Watch, so-called “paltar”.

The 1776 Police Regulation

The 1776 Police Regulation was a major change to the Stockholm police wok. The Governor of Stockholm, Carl Sparre, was the driving force behind the new regulation. A Police Commissioner or Chief of Police (Polismästare) was appointed and was to report directly to the Governor. The first Police Commissioner in Stockholm was Nils Henric Liljensparre (1738 - 1814). Also, a new office was established for law enforcement, The Office of the Police Commissioner or the Royal Police Department of Stockholm (Kungliga Stockholms Poliskammare). The Police Commissioner was the head of the police department. The Stockholm police department was inaugurated on 22 April 1776 and its jurisdictional area was initially limited to the central parts of the City of Stockholm. The Office of the Police Commissioner was partly financed by the city and partly by the State. Stockholm was now divided into 33 police districts and each district was under the command of a kvarterskommissarie (Police Sergeant?). Under his command was a huskvartersmästare appointed for every 10th house in the district. The reform was considered a success, as it made the streets of Stockholm safer. However, the system of the Fire Watch and the City Watch was still kept intact and administered separately. The police officers wore no uniforms at this point in time. Instead they wore a police badge fastened to a thin chain around their necks.

The City Watch & The Separation Watch

The City Watch wasn’t affected by the 1776 Police Regulation. However, both their uniforms and armaments were improved. The watchmen in the City Watch wore blue coats with white cords and cuffs and white trousers, black hats and short leather boots. They were armed with muskets and bayonets and sabers. The watchmen in the Separation Watch wore blue coats and hats with up-folded brims. They were armed with a short sword (cutlass) and a hazel stick. They were also equipped with a short piece of rope to be used as handcuffs.

The Police System in the 1800s

The Police Department

In 1837 a position as Assistant Police Commissioner was established. A new police regulation was issued in 1839. The number of sub- police stations was increased. Each sub-police station was under the command of a Gevaldiger (police sergeant) with three police officers (Uppsyningsmän). Each police district was under the command of a Stadsfiskal. The custom of wearing police uniforms began at this time. The uniform consisted of a high hat and a double-breasted long coat. The police badges were worn around their necks on a chain. The police sergeants (Gevaldiger) wore already uniforms at this time. The police officers were, unlike the watchmen in the City Watch, not armed with firearms but with a cudgel. However, in February 1840, the police officers were being armed with a saber.

The City Watch

A new regulation for the City Watch was issued in 1809 or as it was called now the Stockholm City Military Company (Stadsmilitärkompaniet). The number of watchmen was reduced from 168 to 136. Their uniform consisted now of gray long trousers, black gaiters and shoes. The trousers was equipped with white stripes. Headgear was a black hat with the left brim up-folded. The coat was short with a white collar and cuffs. The armament was a rifle. This uniform was used by the watchmen until 1850.

The Separation Watch

The Separation Watch adopted a new uniform in 1816. The watchmen wore a gray long double-breasted coat, gray trousers and a black hat. The watchmen were armed with a cutlass and the sword belt was blue.

A Modern Police Organization

The Stockholm police system was reorganized in 1850. The foundation of the new organization: 1. All law enforcement agencies was to be organized within the same office 2. The number of police officers was to be increased and be paid a decent salary 3. The responsibility of the police was to solely focus on pure police matters Stockholm was divided into 80 police districts; 16 in central Stockholm, 24 in the southern parts and 40 in the northern parts. Each district was manned by 4 police officers. A police sergeant district (Överkonstapeldistrikt) was under the command of a sergeant (Överkonstapel) and consisted of 4 police districts. Two sergeant districts formed a “trakt” under the command of a Kommisarie (Chief Inspector). New ranks and titles were introduced in 1850; Konstapel (Police Constable), Överkonstapel (Police Sergeant) and Kommissarie (Chief Inspector (UK), Lieutenant (US). The former ranks Gevaldiger och Uppsyningsman were abolished. The police officers wore uniform and their armament consisted of a short saber or cutlass in a scabbard and a baton. The old badges were kept as a police insignia. Each officer wore a viable police serial number attached to the uniform. The uniform was dark blue and consisted of a coat and trousers, vest, overcoat and headgear. The headgear was a tall cap equipped with a gold-plated metal badge in front. The police officers were also equipped with whistles to be used to call for reinforcement in case of an emergency. The image to the right shows a 19th century police badge, Stockholm PD. Stockholms Stadsmuseum. Image: Wikipedia. At this point in time the judicial and the executive authorities was still under the same office. The Överkommisarie (Superintendent (UK), Captain (US)) was both a Police Commander and a Police Judge. The police judge was a kind of judge conducting trials in minor cases. Normally the police department handled the preliminarily investigations which was handed over to the district court of law for trial. Police officers of the Stockholm Police Department (SPD) also was used for assignments in other places in Sweden. In that respect the SPD also was a national police force, like a state police. Later on the SPD also stationed police officer in different cities helping the local police with criminal investigations but also with uniformed police officers upholding law and order. The Swedish security service (Säkerhetspolisen) aslo saw its birth within the SPD. Police detectives: There was a criminal investigation department, CID, (Kriminalavdelning) within the Stockholm Police Department in 1850 consisting of four detectives. In 1856 the department was under the command of a Police Lieutenant. In 1866 the department numbered 5 sergeants and 17 detectives and in 1890; 3 Chief Inspectors (Kommisarie), 5 sergeants and 40 detectives. In 1864 the Police Department role as a both a judicial and the executive authority ended. From now on the Police Department was only to work with pure police businesses. In 1870 the police began taking photos of all detained persons and a portrayal or depiction system was developed for better and easier identification of people who was wanted by the police. In 1887 a mounted police section was introduced in the Stockholm PD and was then consisting of 8 police officers. The same year, a riot squad (Piketen) was organized which stood ready to turnout between 6:00 in the morning and midnight.

The Stockholm Fire Department

When the new Stockholm Police Department was established in 1850 the need of the City Watch diminished. The night watchmen was disbanded since this now was the responsibility of the police. However, the fire watchmen was kept. A new Stockholm City Department was introduced in 1850, the Stockholm Fire Department, consisting of voluntary firemen under the command of two officers and two junior officers. In 1875 the Stockholm Fire Department was reorganized into a military type of corps consisting of professional firemen. Seven fire stations were opened in Stockholm. When Stockholm got a professional fire department the former tower fire watchmen and the remaining fire watchmen of the City Watch was disbanded in 1885. However, the former watchmen of the City Watch were organized into a military company with the purpose to reinforce the upholding of law and order at night. The company was called the City Hall Watch (Rådhusvakten). The company consisted of 95 watchmen.

History of the Swedish Police

The Swedish Police in the 20th Century

Between 1903 and 1913 a new police headquarters was being built on Agnegatan, Kungsholmen, Stockholm. It was a big impressive building and was at the time considered an ostentatious building. The image to the right shows a policeman in a uniform from the early 1900s wearing a spiked helmet. The long coat is dark blue and double-breasted with gold-plated buttons. The uniform could be different in different cities. Photo Hans Högman, 2004. The spiked helmet was abolished in 1926. The armament was in the beginning of the 20th century; saber and baton. Pistols was introduced in 1927 and were worn in a holster fasted to the belt. The saber wasn’t abolished until 1966. Submachine-guns was issued as reinforcement weapons for close quarters battles in 1966 and protective helmets in 1971. A national forensic center, Statens kriminaltekniska anstalt, was opened in 1952. The riot squad, Piketen, was motorized in 1913. The criminal investigation department also disposed of a car at this time. The first police dogs were obtained 1910. The first female police officers, or police sisters as they were called (polissystrar), were employed in 1908, They were foremost used to take prostitutes into custody. The security service, SÄPO, expanded strongly during WWII. The first radio patrol cars were in use in 1935. The image to the left shows a city policeman wearing a uniform in the early 1920s. This uniform was used until 1926. The photo is shown with consent of Catharina Willebrand. The image to the right shows an old police sign that was used in the city of Mariefred, Södermanland. The sign reads; Police Station. Photo Hans Högman, 2007.

The Rural Police Organization

The above text about the police in Sweden is about the cities. However, the police in rural areas was organized differently. The rural police system has, since the 1600s, been upheld by a County Police Commissioner titled Kronofogde. The county is a regional subdivision of Sweden and the rural areas of each county was subdivided into several police districts normally corresponding to the area of rural local government or a parish. Each rural police district was headed by a Länsman. The Länsman had one or several Fjärdingsman at his disposal. I guess this is like the Sheriff Departments in the US? A Länsman would be the same as a US Sheriff and a Fjärdingsman a Deputy Sheriff. The image to the right shows a Länsman wearing a uniform. Image, Police Museum. The Länsman (Sheriff) wore a dark blue double-breasted coat with gold-plated buttons. Headgear was a peaked cap. The Fjärdingsman (Deputy) only wore a police force peaked cap but otherwise plain clothes. The Länsman was a trained police officer while the Fjärdingsman was a position of trust appointed locally for a period of three years at a time. A Fjärdingsman wasn’t allowed to interact as an independent police officer, only on order of the Länsman. A Fjärdingsman normally had no police training. The position as a Fjärdningsman became a permanent employment in 1925. It was the Länsman who was in charge of the police work within his district. The title Länsman was replace by a new title in 1917, Landsfiskal. The corresponding title in cities was Stadsfiskal.

The State Police 1933

Upholding of law and order was the responsibility of local governments. The entity of local governments is called kommun in Swedish. Prior to 1965 all police officers were either employed by a city or by the local Kommun (actually Landskommun), .i.e a municipal police. However, a State Police Department (Statspolisen) was established in Stockholm in 1933. There were problems maintaining order when larger crowds gathered in small towns with a limited police force. In the Ådalen riots in 1931 military troops were called in to reinforce the undersized local police. The military opened fire to stop the rally of marching people, killing five. This tragic happening was one of the reasons to the establishment of the State Police Department. The State PD consisted of both detectives and uniformed police. The state uniformed police were to complement the municipal police in rural areas. Also, the detective work was often rudimentary in small towns and the state police detectives often took over (or assisted) criminal investigations, in such places. The State PD was organized into three sub-departments; uniformed police, Criminal investigations (detectives) and Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen). The first state police sub-department organized was the uniformed police (Statsordningspolisen). One of the tasks they took over was the responsibility for traffic control. A special State Traffic Police was introduced in 1954. The uniformed state police was soon followed by a criminal investigation department, Statspoliskriminalavdelningen or Rikskrim. The image to the right shows traffic police officers on motorcycles, Stockholm 1930s. Initially there were 226 detectives and 306 uniformed state police officers. The majority was stationed in Stockholm but also in other cities in Sweden. The state police were in the 1930s equipped with 40 cars, 16 motorbikes and 60 horses. The first person heading the state police was Erik Ros.

Nationalization of the Swedish Police in 1965

The Swedish police continued to be organized under local government control for more than 30 years. The lack of co-ordination made police work difficult on a national level, and ineffective in an increasingly mobile world, which prompted the nationalization of the Swedish police in 1965. The police were now organized under the Ministry of Justice in three levels. The National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) became the central administrative authority, primarily tasked with coordinating and supporting the local police. The National Police Board was headed by a National Chief of Police or National Chief Commissioner (Rikspolischef) appointed by the government. The police of each county constituted an individual police authority headed by a County Chief Commissioner (Länspolischef), subordinated the National Police Board. The counties (Län) are an administrative regional subdivision of Sweden. A US county is a local subdivision so the US county shouldn’t be compared to the Swedish county. The local police was reduced to 119 districts, each led by a District Police Commissioner, reporting to the at the County Chief Commissioner of respective County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelse). The police patrol cars were marked “Polis” in 1967. A national Police Academy was opened in Solna, Stockholm, in 1965.

Source References

Polisen i Stockholm förr och nu av Bengt Järbe, 1975. Polisväsendet i Stockholm 1776 - 1850 av Nils Staf, 1950. Din Polis, En orientering om polisväsendet på landsbygden, utgiven av Malmöhus polisförening 1955. Polisväsendet på landsbygden, Lundgrens förlag Jönköping 1911. Wikipedia Top of page
Contents this page:
Corresponding Rural Police Titles in the UK and US
Sweden
UK
US
Fjärdingsman
Parish Constable
Deputy Sheriff
Länsman
Chief Constable
Sheriff
Kronofogde
County Police Commissioner
Enforcement Officer
xxxxx Swegen xxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Släktforskning Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2019-04-01

The Swedish Police System in

former Days

Introduction

There was no police system in Sweden, as we know the Police of today, until the 18th century. In the cities, local governments were made responsible for law and order, by way of a royal decree issued by King Magnus III in the 13th century. The cities financed and organized various watchmen, who patrolled the streets. It was the City Magistrate that supervised that law and order was upheld by the appointed law enforcement agencies in the city. A special department, the Politikollegiet, was responsible for this.

The Burgher Watch (Burvakten)

The first police system was the cities’ own watch, the Burgher Watch. Form the early middle ages, the cities were surrounded by a city wall. The gates were guarded and everyone entering the city with merchandise for sale had to pay a tax. The gates were closed at night. In the middle ages, the uphold of law and order were up to the burghers in the cities. There was no reimbursement for this. The burghers were also obliged to defend the city in case war. Guarding castles and fortresses was the responsibility of the army. The responsibilities of the Burgher Watch were: 1. Maintaining order in the city at nights 2. Manning the Fire Watch (Brandvakt) which included patrolling the streets of the city looking out for fires every night 3. Act as a defense force in times of war The patrols were sent out each night when the city gates were closed. This was a responsibility and an obligation that each burgher in the city had to fulfill according to a schedule. This was of course an unpopular duty. In daytime the upholding of law and order was done by the so-called bysvennerna or stadstjänarna. They were employed by the Mayor and the city council and were a mixture of street police officers and bailiffs. They were paid as civil servants.

The City Watch (Stadsvakten)

In Stockholm, a special City Watch was organized in 1594. This was a permanent watch with employed guards paid by the city, i.e. the burghers. The City Watch was organized as a military unit with enlisted men dressed in uniform under the command of a captain (stadskapten). The Captain was subordinated the Politikollegiet in the city. This watch was later renamed to the Stockholm City Company. The main duty of the City Watch was to patrol the streets of Stockholm and guarding the city gates. They were also to assist in case of a fire by fencing off the area on fire and to guard personal estate rescued in the fire. In 1634 there were 24 watchmen in the City Watch and in 1659 they numbered 100 guards. The City Watch’s quarters were at the main square (Stortorget) in the old town. The City Watch had the right to arrest anyone committing crimes of violence or theft. From 1682 they were allowed to open fire when attacked or interfered in their line of duty. The watchmen in the City Watch were armed with swords/rapiers, partisans and muskets. A partisan was a type of polearm that consisted of a spearhead mounted on a long shaft, usually wooden, with protrusions on the sides which aided in parrying sword thrusts. The watchmen in the City Watch weren’t very popular by the townspeople and were nicknamed Korvar (Sausages) or Korvknektar (Sausage Guards).

The Garrison Guards (Garnisonsvakten)

The City Watch wasn’t enough to uphold law and order in Stockholm. There were several regiments garrisoned in Stockholm and they also participated in maintaining the order of the streets of Stockholm. These military units were posted in several places in Stockholm and were patrolling the streets at night. Each patrol consisted of a corporal and six soldiers. However, the military patrols and the City Watch operated independent of each other. The City Watch had no capacity to investigate criminal cases. Instead criminal cases were investigated by the Life Guards, which had a special department for this.

The Fire Watch (Brandvakten)

The Fire Watch as well as the Burgher Watch was dependent of the burghers’ direct and voluntary participation. The first fire regulation in Stockholm was issued in May 1661. The city was then divided into 4 districts and one and each of these into several sub districts. In each district a master fireman was appointed and in each sub district a deputy fireman. Each house in Stockholm was obliged to keep a ladder, a fire ax and fire buckets available for firefighting purposes. When the fire bell (vårdklockan) rang in the evening it was no longer allowed to keep a fire going or candles burning in the houses until the next morning. Special fire watchers patrolled the city during nights. Together with the City Watch they upheld the order in the city at nights. There were also fire watchers (tornväktare) posted in many church towers in the city. The fire watchers sent an alarm if they spotted a fire by ringing the fire bells. They also used special signal flags and lanterns to state in which district there was a fire. A special Fire Watch Corps was established in 1730 under the command of a fire captain. The fire watchmen of the corps patrolled the city streets between 10 in the evening and 6 in the morning. There were two watchmen in each patrol and the patrols were assigned a specific district. Each patrol was equipped with a fire hook mounted on a long wooden shaft known as brandhake or väktarsax. Soon these hooks were equipped with a hoop. The hoop made it possible to trap troublemakers and keep them at an arms-length distance until reinforcements arrived. The image to the right shows a fire watchman with a fire hook. The hoop in the hook is called “bygel” in Swedish which became byling and the fire watchmen were nicknamed byling. The other end of the shaft had an iron shod and in an emergency the watchman repeatedly thrust the shaft to the stone paved street to warn and awake people in a house on fire. The image to the left shows a fire hook with a hoop. Photo Hans Högman 2011, Sigtuna town hall. The fire watchmen worked every two days. When they weren’t on duty they were entitled to be engaged in trade in the city. There were 188 fire watchmen in Stockholm in 1757 and in 1788 fully 200. The uniform consisted in 1760 of a blue coat of broadcloth, blue vest and blue trousers, black hat and knee-boots. Above the coat the watchmen wore a long scarf of wool wrapped around the body forming a cross tied around the waist. The image to the right shows a fire watchman in uniform. Photo Hans Högman, 2004, Old Linköping. Together the fire watch, the city watch and the garrison guards formed system of law enforcement in the cities which shows a resemblance with today’s uniformed police.

The City Watch in the 1700s

A new Captain of the City Watch in Stockholm was appointed in 1720. He was Nils Hulling, a non- commissioned officer of the Royal Life Guards. Hulling gradually changed how police work was organized in Stockholm, modeled after how law enforcement was organized in Paris at the time. One of the first steps he made was to split the City Watch into two units. The new unit was named the Separation Watch (Sepatationsvakten) and was manned with 20 less qualified watchmen of the City Watch. The task of the Separation Watch was to keep after vagrants and beggars and to guard the members of the house of correction when they were doing street cleaning. The Separation Watch was under the command of a Corporal and wore gray uniforms with blue cuffs. These watchmen were armed with sabers and their nickname was “paltar”. The image to the right show watchmen in the Separation Watch, so-called “paltar”.

The 1776 Police Regulation

The 1776 Police Regulation was a major change to the Stockholm police wok. The Governor of Stockholm, Carl Sparre, was the driving force behind the new regulation. A Police Commissioner or Chief of Police (Polismästare) was appointed and was to report directly to the Governor. The first Police Commissioner in Stockholm was Nils Henric Liljensparre (1738 - 1814). Also, a new office was established for law enforcement, The Office of the Police Commissioner or the Royal Police Department of Stockholm (Kungliga Stockholms Poliskammare). The Police Commissioner was the head of the police department. The Stockholm police department was inaugurated on 22 April 1776 and its jurisdictional area was initially limited to the central parts of the City of Stockholm. The Office of the Police Commissioner was partly financed by the city and partly by the State. Stockholm was now divided into 33 police districts and each district was under the command of a kvarterskommissarie (Police Sergeant?). Under his command was a huskvartersmästare appointed for every 10th house in the district. The reform was considered a success, as it made the streets of Stockholm safer. However, the system of the Fire Watch and the City Watch was still kept intact and administered separately. The police officers wore no uniforms at this point in time. Instead they wore a police badge fastened to a thin chain around their necks.

The City Watch & The Separation Watch

The City Watch wasn’t affected by the 1776 Police Regulation. However, both their uniforms and armaments were improved. The watchmen in the City Watch wore blue coats with white cords and cuffs and white trousers, black hats and short leather boots. They were armed with muskets and bayonets and sabers. The watchmen in the Separation Watch wore blue coats and hats with up-folded brims. They were armed with a short sword (cutlass) and a hazel stick. They were also equipped with a short piece of rope to be used as handcuffs.

The Police System in the 1800s

The Police Department

In 1837 a position as Assistant Police Commissioner was established. A new police regulation was issued in 1839. The number of sub-police stations was increased. Each sub-police station was under the command of a Gevaldiger (police sergeant) with three police officers (Uppsyningsmän). Each police district was under the command of a Stadsfiskal. The custom of wearing police uniforms began at this time. The uniform consisted of a high hat and a double-breasted long coat. The police badges were worn around their necks on a chain. The police sergeants (Gevaldiger) wore already uniforms at this time. The police officers were, unlike the watchmen in the City Watch, not armed with firearms but with a cudgel. However, in February 1840, the police officers were being armed with a saber.

The City Watch

A new regulation for the City Watch was issued in 1809 or as it was called now the Stockholm City Military Company (Stadsmilitärkompaniet). The number of watchmen was reduced from 168 to 136. Their uniform consisted now of gray long trousers, black gaiters and shoes. The trousers was equipped with white stripes. Headgear was a black hat with the left brim up-folded. The coat was short with a white collar and cuffs. The armament was a rifle. This uniform was used by the watchmen until 1850.

The Separation Watch

The Separation Watch adopted a new uniform in 1816. The watchmen wore a gray long double- breasted coat, gray trousers and a black hat. The watchmen were armed with a cutlass and the sword belt was blue.

A Modern Police Organization

The Stockholm police system was reorganized in 1850. The foundation of the new organization: 1. All law enforcement agencies was to be organized within the same office 2. The number of police officers was to be increased and be paid a decent salary 3. The responsibility of the police was to solely focus on pure police matters Stockholm was divided into 80 police districts; 16 in central Stockholm, 24 in the southern parts and 40 in the northern parts. Each district was manned by 4 police officers. A police sergeant district (Överkonstapeldistrikt) was under the command of a sergeant (Överkonstapel) and consisted of 4 police districts. Two sergeant districts formed a “trakt” under the command of a Kommisarie (Chief Inspector). New ranks and titles were introduced in 1850; Konstapel (Police Constable), Överkonstapel (Police Sergeant) and Kommissarie (Chief Inspector (UK), Lieutenant (US). The former ranks Gevaldiger och Uppsyningsman were abolished. The police officers wore uniform and their armament consisted of a short saber or cutlass in a scabbard and a baton. The old badges were kept as a police insignia. Each officer wore a viable police serial number attached to the uniform. The uniform was dark blue and consisted of a coat and trousers, vest, overcoat and headgear. The headgear was a tall cap equipped with a gold-plated metal badge in front. The police officers were also equipped with whistles to be used to call for reinforcement in case of an emergency. The image to the right shows a 19th century police badge, Stockholm PD. Stockholms Stadsmuseum. Image: Wikipedia. At this point in time the judicial and the executive authorities was still under the same office. The Överkommisarie (Superintendent (UK), Captain (US)) was both a Police Commander and a Police Judge. The police judge was a kind of judge conducting trials in minor cases. Normally the police department handled the preliminarily investigations which was handed over to the district court of law for trial. Police officers of the Stockholm Police Department (SPD) also was used for assignments in other places in Sweden. In that respect the SPD also was a national police force, like a state police. Later on the SPD also stationed police officer in different cities helping the local police with criminal investigations but also with uniformed police officers upholding law and order. The Swedish security service (Säkerhetspolisen) aslo saw its birth within the SPD. Police detectives: There was a criminal investigation department, CID, (Kriminalavdelning) within the Stockholm Police Department in 1850 consisting of four detectives. In 1856 the department was under the command of a Police Lieutenant. In 1866 the department numbered 5 sergeants and 17 detectives and in 1890; 3 Chief Inspectors (Kommisarie), 5 sergeants and 40 detectives. In 1864 the Police Department role as a both a judicial and the executive authority ended. From now on the Police Department was only to work with pure police businesses. In 1870 the police began taking photos of all detained persons and a portrayal or depiction system was developed for better and easier identification of people who was wanted by the police. In 1887 a mounted police section was introduced in the Stockholm PD and was then consisting of 8 police officers. The same year, a riot squad (Piketen) was organized which stood ready to turnout between 6:00 in the morning and midnight.

The Stockholm Fire Department

When the new Stockholm Police Department was established in 1850 the need of the City Watch diminished. The night watchmen was disbanded since this now was the responsibility of the police. However, the fire watchmen was kept. A new Stockholm City Department was introduced in 1850, the Stockholm Fire Department, consisting of voluntary firemen under the command of two officers and two junior officers. In 1875 the Stockholm Fire Department was reorganized into a military type of corps consisting of professional firemen. Seven fire stations were opened in Stockholm. When Stockholm got a professional fire department the former tower fire watchmen and the remaining fire watchmen of the City Watch was disbanded in 1885. However, the former watchmen of the City Watch were organized into a military company with the purpose to reinforce the upholding of law and order at night. The company was called the City Hall Watch (Rådhusvakten). The company consisted of 95 watchmen.

History of the Swedish

Police

The Swedish Police in the 20th

Century

Between 1903 and 1913 a new police headquarters was being built on Agnegatan, Kungsholmen, Stockholm. It was a big impressive building and was at the time considered an ostentatious building. The image to the right shows a policeman in a uniform from the early 1900s wearing a spiked helmet. The long coat is dark blue and double-breasted with gold- plated buttons. The uniform could be different in different cities. Photo Hans Högman, 2004. The spiked helmet was abolished in 1926. The armament was in the beginning of the 20th century; saber and baton. Pistols was introduced in 1927 and were worn in a holster fasted to the belt. The saber wasn’t abolished until 1966. Submachine-guns was issued as reinforcement weapons for close quarters battles in 1966 and protective helmets in 1971. A national forensic center, Statens kriminaltekniska anstalt, was opened in 1952. The riot squad, Piketen, was motorized in 1913. The criminal investigation department also disposed of a car at this time. The first police dogs were obtained 1910. The first female police officers, or police sisters as they were called (polissystrar), were employed in 1908, They were foremost used to take prostitutes into custody. The security service, SÄPO, expanded strongly during WWII. The first radio patrol cars were in use in 1935. The image to the left shows a city policeman wearing a uniform in the early 1920s. This uniform was used until 1926. The photo is shown with consent of Catharina Willebrand. The image to the right shows an old police sign that was used in the city of Mariefred, Södermanland. The sign reads; Police Station. Photo Hans Högman, 2007.

The Rural Police Organization

The above text about the police in Sweden is about the cities. However, the police in rural areas was organized differently. The rural police system has, since the 1600s, been upheld by a County Police Commissioner titled Kronofogde. The county is a regional subdivision of Sweden and the rural areas of each county was subdivided into several police districts normally corresponding to the area of rural local government or a parish. Each rural police district was headed by a Länsman. The Länsman had one or several Fjärdingsman at his disposal. I guess this is like the Sheriff Departments in the US? A Länsman would be the same as a US Sheriff and a Fjärdingsman a Deputy Sheriff. The image to the right shows a Länsman wearing a uniform. Image, Police Museum. The Länsman (Sheriff) wore a dark blue double-breasted coat with gold-plated buttons. Headgear was a peaked cap. The Fjärdingsman (Deputy) only wore a police force peaked cap but otherwise plain clothes. The Länsman was a trained police officer while the Fjärdingsman was a position of trust appointed locally for a period of three years at a time. A Fjärdingsman wasn’t allowed to interact as an independent police officer, only on order of the Länsman. A Fjärdingsman normally had no police training. The position as a Fjärdningsman became a permanent employment in 1925. It was the Länsman who was in charge of the police work within his district. The title Länsman was replace by a new title in 1917, Landsfiskal. The corresponding title in cities was Stadsfiskal.

The State Police 1933

Upholding of law and order was the responsibility of local governments. The entity of local governments is called kommun in Swedish. Prior to 1965 all police officers were either employed by a city or by the local Kommun (actually Landskommun), .i.e a municipal police. However, a State Police Department (Statspolisen) was established in Stockholm in 1933. There were problems maintaining order when larger crowds gathered in small towns with a limited police force. In the Ådalen riots in 1931 military troops were called in to reinforce the undersized local police. The military opened fire to stop the rally of marching people, killing five. This tragic happening was one of the reasons to the establishment of the State Police Department. The State PD consisted of both detectives and uniformed police. The state uniformed police were to complement the municipal police in rural areas. Also, the detective work was often rudimentary in small towns and the state police detectives often took over (or assisted) criminal investigations, in such places. The State PD was organized into three sub- departments; uniformed police, Criminal investigations (detectives) and Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen). The first state police sub-department organized was the uniformed police (Statsordningspolisen). One of the tasks they took over was the responsibility for traffic control. A special State Traffic Police was introduced in 1954. The uniformed state police was soon followed by a criminal investigation department, Statspoliskriminalavdelningen or Rikskrim. The image to the right shows traffic police officers on motorcycles, Stockholm 1930s. Initially there were 226 detectives and 306 uniformed state police officers. The majority was stationed in Stockholm but also in other cities in Sweden. The state police were in the 1930s equipped with 40 cars, 16 motorbikes and 60 horses. The first person heading the state police was Erik Ros.

Nationalization of the Swedish

Police in 1965

The Swedish police continued to be organized under local government control for more than 30 years. The lack of co-ordination made police work difficult on a national level, and ineffective in an increasingly mobile world, which prompted the nationalization of the Swedish police in 1965. The police were now organized under the Ministry of Justice in three levels. The National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) became the central administrative authority, primarily tasked with coordinating and supporting the local police. The National Police Board was headed by a National Chief of Police or National Chief Commissioner (Rikspolischef) appointed by the government. The police of each county constituted an individual police authority headed by a County Chief Commissioner (Länspolischef), subordinated the National Police Board. The counties (Län) are an administrative regional subdivision of Sweden. A US county is a local subdivision so the US county shouldn’t be compared to the Swedish county. The local police was reduced to 119 districts, each led by a District Police Commissioner, reporting to the at the County Chief Commissioner of respective County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelse). The police patrol cars were marked “Polis” in 1967. A national Police Academy was opened in Solna, Stockholm, in 1965.
Corresponding Rural Police Titles in the UK and US
Sweden
UK
US
Fjärdingsman
Parish Constable
Deputy Sheriff
Länsman
Chief Constable
Sheriff
Kronofogde
County Police Commissioner
Enforcement Officer

Source References

Polisen i Stockholm förr och nu av Bengt Järbe, 1975. Polisväsendet i Stockholm 1776 - 1850 av Nils Staf, 1950. Din Polis, En orientering om polisväsendet på landsbygden, utgiven av Malmöhus polisförening 1955. Polisväsendet på landsbygden, Lundgrens förlag Jönköping 1911. Wikipedia Top of page