1867 1950
1953 Photography

Written by Chas Hopkins

Shortly after the Police Force was established, Police wore plain clothes when endeavouring to detect breaches of the liquor and vice laws. It was done to conduct investigations without attracting public scrutiny.
The members were known as 'Detective Police', and as early as 1854 there were two Sergeants and six Constables attached to the Branch. In that same year they were granted a yearly clothing allowance to counter the uniform allowance granted to other members.

In January, 1867, Commissioner G. Hamilton stated in a report to the Government, “I have reduced the Detective Force to two Constables in that I may gradually enter on a system differing in material points to that which has been in existence hitherto, and I wish to instruct the present Detectives in it myself. This I shall be able to do better when the Detective Crime Book, as arranged by me, arrives from the Printing Office. When the next vacancy occurs in the Metropolitan Force, it is my intention to engage a person well acquainted with the management of the Detective System of Melbourne, and give him the duties of Clerk and Constable with somewhat higher pay than the Metropolitan Constables receive. I shall then, as vacancies occur, take into the Detective Force, candidates who have had some training at the duties required by this Branch, and not transfer street Constables to the Detective Force. By these means I trust to procure good efficient men, and in time, to organize a Detective Force equal to meet the requirements of the Colony”

A new Detective Branch was established on the 26th February, 1876, and took over the investigation of serious crime. This initiative, which was implemented by Commissioner Hamilton, was due to a large increase in crime in the Colony in the previous year, particularly highway robbery and vagrancy, caused mainly by unemployment resulting from a severe drought. Numerous undesirables had drifted to the City of Adelaide from other Colonies, and in particular, from the Far North, where they had been employed as shepherds, but due to the drought, their employment was terminated. They were deemed to be idle and disorderly persons, who spent most of their time drinking at hotels and frequenting brothels. There were 35 brothels in the City, including seven in Light Square. Numerous persons were arrested for vagrancy in an attempt to get them to return to the country areas to seek employment.

The Detective Office was rented premises, located in Gilbert Place, Adelaide, which was close to the intersection of Hindley and King William Streets. The staff comprised of three members under the charge of Detective Constable R. Dempsey, who also had the responsibility of maintaining a Detective Crime Book. He was also well acquainted with the management of the Detective System operating at Melbourne, Victoria and which was identical  to that introduced earlier at the Criminal Investigation Branch at the Metropolitan Police Force in London.
The following directive was issued by Commissioner Hamilton on 13/3/1867 to the Detectives.
“The Detective Constables are informed that all duties connected with the Detective Office are to be considered strictly secret and no information is to be given to anyone without the express sanction of the Commissioner of Police.
The Detective Constables are also informed that the Commissioner expects that each officer will give a ready assistance to detect crime, and capture criminals, and that mutual co-operation will be required of every man in the Detective Force. Unhealthy emulation and jealousy will be discouraged, and if practised, will be severely punished when the offender is discovered. No Force can be thoroughly effective if the members who compose it are not united. Disunion leads to dissatisfaction, and this soon changes into disorganization and the Force becomes a curse to the community.
Every Constable employed on Detective Service will be discharged or dismissed if it can be proved that he has [to advance his own interests or from any other motive whatsoever] thwarted his comrade, and put obstacles in the way of other Constables detecting crime. No reports against Detective officers will be received by the Commissioner of Police that are not to be thoroughly and openly investigated, and the Detective Force will understand that while it keeps its secrets from the public, it will have nothing to conceal from its members.
In the event of it becoming apparent that any underhand work is going on which baffles all enquiries, the Commissioner will feel it his duty to break up the whole Force, and re-organise it by enlisting persons who are possessed of higher talents and superior qualifications for the duties. Every Detective Constable will be implicitly trusted and the dismissal of the officer will follow the withdrawal of that trust.
The above remarks are to be carefully read by the Detective Constables.

Geo. Hamilton
Commissioner of Police
On the 27th March, 1867, Commissioner Hamilton issued the following memorandum after obtaining Mounted Maps of the City of Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Norwood and Kensington :-
“The City of Adelaide will be divided into Detective Divisions, and in each Division, a Detective Constable will be appointed, where he will have to reside - He will be required to make out a list of all the houses in his Division, numbering them from No. 1 consecutively to the last house in the Division. This list he will lodge in the Detective Office, keeping a copy for himself. After numbering the houses he will be required to find out the names and occupations of the residents and as changes take place, he will have to notice such changes at the foot of his list, giving the Detective Office the number of the house, and stating what change has taken place. The list will be headed in the following form.
Trade or calling

The Detective Officers when appointed to a Division will lose no time in preparing this list for the information of the Commissioner of Police, and of the Detective Officers generally, and on the occasion of Detective Officers being changed from one Division to another, they will exchange lists, taking care that the lists are always made up, and kept complete, so that the officer entering on duties of a new Division may have fullest and most entire information with reference to the residents and the position of the houses in the Division.
The Commissioner considers the compilation of these lists of the utmost importance, and he therefore impresses on the several Detective Officers, the necessity of being careful and accurate in drawing them up.


As time progressed, the Detective Branch increased in size, but in approximately 1890, comprised of one Sergeant and eight Constables, which included a Photographer and Handwriting Expert.
At first, the Administration was concerned that it would create jealousy among the Force members, when Detectives were permitted to take over investigations commenced by local members. Instructions were drafted to counter those fears, viz. 1885.
"As it is of the greatest importance that good feeling and cooperation should exist between this branch and the general body of the Police, the Officers in charge of both will do their utmost to cultivate friendly relations between them, and will immediately check anything tending to promote jealousy. Whenever a Constable applies to the Detective Force for assistance, it must be readily given to him, and everything must be done to show him that the Detectives are not rivals with him for public favour, but members of the same force, working together for the public good."

The Branch continued to be referred to as the Detective Office until the mid 1950's when it was generally referred to as the Criminal Investigation Branch, and eventually had a Detective stationed at the larger towns scattered throughout the State, e.g. Mount Gambier, Bordertown, Port Pirie, Port Lincoln, Peterborough, Wallaroo, Port Augusta and Whyalla. Other Branches were established in the suburban areas of the City of Adelaide. The selection of personnel for these positions was usually chosen from the ranks of Divisional staff, and initially were those members with above average investigational skills, and a personality to work in close liaison with the uniform staff. In the early 1950's, the Criminal Investigation Branch, which comprised of approximately fifty members, was located on the 1st floor of the Magistrate's Court Building at No. 1 Angas Street, Adelaide. The Administrative Staff had two rooms, and the remainder of the staff occupied another two rooms, which was inadequate as there were insufficient desks or seating. Most of the Investigators performed general duties, but a few members were assigned specific investigations. The latter were mainly complicated reports of fraudulent transactions. However, at this time, due to the prevalence of offences relating to the larceny and illegal use of motor vehicles, a nucleus of personnel were assigned to this type of investigation. However, when the Branch personnel were transferred to larger accommodation at No. 5 Angas Street, Adelaide in 1954, it permitted the formation of specific Squads [the latter accommodation comprised of a two storey building, which was previously used as a Boarding House]. The initial Squads that were formed comprised Homicide, Breaking. General, Fraud, Motor and Dealers, and it enabled members to specialise in the investigation of specific offences. It also greatly improved the efficiency in which investigations were handled, as most criminals confined themselves to a pattern of criminal activity, and the Investigators became more adept at their work as their skills were confined to a particular crime activity, and the criminals involved.

In 1953, the first Detective Training Course was organised for twelve members. The syllabus comprised an extensive range of subjects, including lectures by Detectives and Commissioned Officers on Law and Evidence, and by many outside lecturers on new forms of Sciences which were then receiving international credence, i.e. soils, hair, dental, blood, semen, pollens, and microscopic examinations of other foreign matters discovered at crime scenes. Also included were Homicide and identification parade exercises. Similar courses were continued annually. As a result of these courses, there was an increase in calls for science personnel to attend at all types of investigations. It also resulted in the appointment of a Liaison Officer for Forensic Science, so that he could initiate the assistance required, as most of the science personnel were employed in the private sector. The type of scientific evidence sought varied. I will quote a few examples:-
When investigating a murder in the North of South Australia, a wheat bag was found at the scene, which the offender had wrapped around his feet to disguise his footprints. In the weave of the bag, a small pin feather of a bird was found, and also a small embryo shell fish. The feather was taken to an Ornithologist and he identified it as coming from a Port Lincoln Ringneck parrot, whose habitat is confined to Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The evidence was later proved to be correct. The offender had shot the parrot in the area several months prior to the murder, and had placed it in the bag. The feather remained in the bag when the parrot had been removed. The shell fish was examined by a Conchologist. He advised that it was a freshwater shell fish whose habitat was confined to central Australia, and that the bag had probably been used as a mat when the offender had camped near a water hole, and the shell fish had probably crawled into the bag over night. This also proved correct, as the offender had camped near a water hole with his car and caravan shortly before the murders occurred. Another example was when an enamel saucepan had been used to strike an old man on the head. The force fractured his skull, and caused his death. It had also caused the enamel on the handle to fracture. A check of a suspect's wardrobe revealed minute pieces of enamel adhering to a woollen garment. Scientific tests of the saucepan disclosed that it had been manufactured by Judd's in England in 1936, using a special blend of enamel, and it had not been used since that time. The scientists were able to show that the enamel on the murder weapon, and that on the suspect's clothing, were identical. These two examples are an indication of the extensive range of evidence which can be provided to an Investigator by the assistance of scientists. This type of evidence is often not sufficient to prove a person guilty of a crime, but when all the evidence is placed together with other evidence, it can assist in giving a clearer picture of what happened at the time of the crime, and who committed it.
The Criminal Investigation Branch continued to specialise and diversify with the progress of time. At the present time, Branches have been established in areas throughout the State. The technological aids to assist Investigators has also greatly increased, and in particular during the past 20 years, and it is now a necessity to have a crime scene examiner attend at all serious investigations


This science was in use in South Australia in the 1860’s, and there was a Photographic Branch attached to the Surveyor General's office, which in August, 1867, advised that photos of convicts in numerical order 1 - 150 were available to Police. The Photographer would keep an account of the cost of the work. Commissioner Hamilton replied on 7/8/1867, that a photo of each convict was required before and after cutting his hair [heads were shaven on admittance to the prison].
The first report of it being used in the Police Department was in the late 1870's, when Detective Von Der Borch was appointed official Photographer. Later a report was submitted requesting a ventilator be installed in the work place to reduce the fumes caused when developing and printing photographs. There is no evidence to show that this science proceeded beyond experimentation until approximately 1898, when Detective Lingwood-Smith was given the task of upgrading the photographic system of identification. He was born at Ballarat in 1860, and joined the South Australian Police Department in 1882. The photographs of suspects and offenders first appeared in the Police Gazette in 1898, and were approximately one inch square in size, and initially, were separately pasted to each issue. The first Police Photo Book was issued in 1922. Photography was also used for crime scenes, disasters and other matters requiring Police attendance. The Police were also required to visit gaols to photograph long term prisoners prior to their release. This practice continued until approximately 1960. Photography was reasonably static until about 1950, when there was a dramatic increase in its use, caused mainly through the need to record serious motor vehicle accidents, and photographs of crime scenes for use as Court exhibits. There was also a greater use of forensic sciences at that time. The 1970's saw the introduction of coloured and polaroid film, and since that time there has been rapid advances in photography.


The importance of being able to give each human being an individuality differentiating him from all others, was first dealt with successfully in France by M. Bertillon in 1883. It involved the measurements of certain bony portions of the human frame, e.g. head length, middle finger length, foot length, etc. as he noted that they did not vary between adolescence and extreme old age. Experiments had also been carried out on fingerprints from the 1870's [Early Fingerprints by Faulds]. In 1897, a system discovered in Bengal, India proved so satisfactory, that the Government of India appointed an independent Committee to enquire and report on it. This resulted in the system being implemented, as it proved to be much simpler than the 'Bertillon' method of identification, and was inexpensive to operate. It was introduced, with modifications, to the Metropolitan Police Force in London by Mr. Henry in 1901. Mr. Henry was the Deputy Commissioner of Police with the Metropolitan Force at the time. It was introduced to the Australian Police Forces shortly afterwards, and is now used by Police internationally, and it is called the 'Henry' system.
Detective Photographer, W.T. Lingwood-Smith, pioneered fingerprinting in the South Australian Police Force in 1894, when ‘Galtons’ system of thumb print identification was adopted, but it was not a success owing to the difficulty in classifying the thumb impressions on a very large scale, and its non adoption by the other States of the Commonwealth, caused the system to be discontinued.
A conference of Police Commissioners of the various States in the Commonwealth was held in Melbourne in September, 1903, and amongst other matters discussed, it was resolved that the Police Departments of each State adopt the ‘Henry’ system, and this transpired, but South Australia was the last to do so in 1904.
The following press report appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser on June 30th, 1922.

A Valuable Officer

“Detective Photographer W.T. Lingwood-Smith, the well known finger-print expert, attached to the Detective Office, retires today. Born at Ballarat in 1860, he joined the South Australian police when 22 years of age, going into the detective department. The first finger-print impressions were taken in Australia in 1894, but the system did not come into general use in the Commonwealth until nine or ten years later. Mr Smith claims to have pioneered this work in Australia under the present Commissioner [Brig. General Leane]. The system has been brought up to date, and despite the fact that the records now contain nearly 80,000 photographs and finger-prints, it is possible to ascertain within a few minutes, whether there are any previous convictions in any of the States against a person.
 The work of the investigation department covers a vast field, dealing not only with finger-print records, but the photographs of criminals, the scenes of crime, and unknown dead. An index is kept of all criminals. The retirement from the force of Mr. Smith, who was a capable and conscientious officer, is a source of regret to his brother officers. He is leaving Adelaide on Saturday for America with his wife, the Rev. Lily Lingwood-Smith. Mr. Smith is to be presented with a handsome medal of unique design, as a token of regard from the members of the Detective Force.”
The first fingerprint impressions taken in Australia are believed to have been done by Mr. McCauley at the Darlinghurst Gaol in New South Wales in 1894.
In 1920,  Mr. Bruce Hudd was appointed to assist Mr. Lingwood-Smith, and when the latter retired in 1922, Mr. Hudd was appointed the Officer in Charge of the Photography and Fingerprint Section. Prior to transferring to the Police Department, he had been employed on Lithographic work in another Government Department, but he had an interest in photography when attending school at Macclesfield. He adapted to his new work, and was soon accepted by the South Australian Courts as an expert on fingerprints. He was the first fingerprint expert to obtain a conviction in a Western Australian Court. In 1923, he introduced the plaster casting of footprints to the Department. They were found at the scene of a robbery and the Court accepted his evidence and convicted the thief. In 1939, he introduced a method for detecting thieves who stole from working companions. A powder was sprinkled onto coins and left at the scene of previous thefts. The powder was not readily visible, and when the money was noticed missing, all staff were requested to place their hands under an ultra violet light. The powder would fluoresce on the hands of the culprit. During his career, Mr. Hudd was involved in a number of complex investigations which occurred throughout the Commonwealth, and through his expertise in identifying fingerprints, was able to identify the offenders. He retired in 1950. During his service, he was ably assisted by the following fingerprint experts: Frank Brice, James Durham, Alan Cliff, Dudley Aebi and Bill Low.

In 1941, following a liaison of all Australian Police Forces, it was agreed that a Central Bureau of Fingerprints would be established in Sydney, New South Wales for recording the fingerprints of all persons arrested in Australia. This necessitated all Police taking two copies of fingerprints of criminals and forwarding them to the Bureau. The system worked exceptionally well, and by checking with the Bureau, it was possible to establish whether criminals had a previous record in another State, or were using a false name. The method of checking with the Bureau was done by the normal mail service, or in urgent circumstances, through the use of the telephone. Due to technological changes in communications, this was later performed by teleprinter and facsimile machines. However, in 1986, computers were installed in all States, with a data base at Parramatta, New South Wales, and it is now possible to receive a reply to a query on fingerprints, within a few minutes. The fingerprints are still physically classified at each Police Department, and are double checked with an automatic reader. The prints and classification are then transferred via the computer to the data base.


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