The present force is the result of an amalgamation in 1967 of the county forces of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight with the Southampton City and Portsmouth City police forces.
The County Police Act of 1839 enabled justices, if they so wished, to maintain a paid police force either for the whole county or any part of it. The number of police men in any such county force was not to exceed one for every thousand inhabitants and the cost was to be borne by the general county rates. It was as a result of this permissive act that the Hampshire Constabulary was formed in December 1839.
At a meeting held at the Grand Jury Chamber in Winchester it was resolved that the county should adopt the provisions of the act and that the constabulary force should consist of:
1 chief constable at a salary of £300 a year with an allowance for the purchase and forage of two horses of £100.
2 superintendents. One for the Isle of Wight and one for Head quarters at Winchester at £120 a year each.
12 superintendents for the remaining divisions at £75 a year each.
14 constables first class at 21s. per week each.
28 constables second class at 19s. per week each.
49 constables third class at 18s. per week each.
Especial emphasis was put on the need for smartness of appearance. Uniform coats were to be kept buttoned, clean white gloves of regulation patterns were invariably to be worn on duty and above all no shirt collars were to be allowed to appear.
From time to time individuals were singled out for censure. One man was denounced for “lounging along like any old cadger with his greatcoat thrown over his shoulders like a blanket or a woman’s shawl, as if drill and discipline, greatcoat straps and the use of them, orders and instructions regarding dress and general appear ance were unknown in Hampshire”.