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The story of how four forces merged to form Wales’ biggest police force

South Wales Police celebrates half a century since four forces merged to form Wales’ biggest police force

On 1st June 1969, the predecessor forces of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Swansea, and Cardiff came together and a new force came into being.

From that day, South Wales Police, or South Wales Constabulary as it was known initially, has grown to become one of the best performing forces in the country.

Gareth Madge of the South Wales Police Heritage Centre, takes up the story:

“In the years before amalgamation, concern over the sheer number of police forces which existed in England and Wales had grown significantly, resulting in the Police Act of 1964 which gave power to the Home Secretary to require police forces to merge, if they did not do so voluntarily.

“Here in South Wales, it was proposed that the Glamorgan, Cardiff, Swansea and Merthyr forces should merge to form just one. There was a degree of controversy in the matter, since some thought that in light of its status as the capital city of Wales, Cardiff should retain its own police force. They also wished to see the headquarters of any merged force being located within the city.

“Eventually, however, and after a public inquiry, the Home Secretary made the necessary order for the forces to merge and the South Wales Constabulary came into being on 1st June 1969. Its headquarters was to be based at the former Glamorgan Constabulary Headquarters in Bridgend.

“In the years that have followed since 1969, this force has consistently evolved to keep pace with the challenges of the day.

“There have been a number of changes over the last 50 years – including our geographical areas of command having changed several times over the years; police staff now occupying some of the highest positions within the organisation; the locations of our police stations; the ending of the requirement to live in a police house; and the role of women in policing.  These are just a few examples, which if you take the time to think about it, really help paint a picture of just how much things have changed.”

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Chief Constable Matt Jukes said: 

“During the next 12 months, we will be taking a good look back at the past five decades, starting at the force’s earliest days following amalgamation.

“Each month, as we celebrate the achievements brought by the years, the focus will be on a new theme – the first taking a look back at how much our uniform has changed over the years.

“We’ll also be calling on many of our colleagues, past and present, to personally help us tell our story.

“Ensuring the achievements of all those who have served over the past 50 years, and who continue to serve today, is extremely important. That is why I want to take this opportunity to say diolch, or thank you, to all our staff who have helped us to become the force that we are now, and hope to become in the future.

“We hope our 50th will also provide plenty of opportunities for our communities to get involved, and take a look behind the scenes at the work we do today.

“South Wales Police has an extremely rich history and one we are proud to share with the communities we serve.

“There have been many changes to policing in the last 50 years, however our vision to be the best at listening and responding to the needs of our communities remains the same, and will continue to be our focus as we move forward.”

To find out more about how much the force has changes in the last 50 years follow #SWP50 on twitter and like our facebook page SWPolice.

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