Alarmed by attacks from the local Aboriginals the squatters asked authorities in Sydney to provide protection. Consequently in 1837 Captain Foster Fyans (1790-1870) was sent as police magistrate to Geelong. He had served in the army in India before being posted to Norfolk Island as captain of the guard. He was accompanied by his former batman as district constable, two subordinate constables, a clerk, and twelve convict retainers. After tramping from Melbourne, he established himself on the Moorabool River, at Fyansford, and at once, tackled the problem of siting a town.
The growing townships of Spring Creek, Puebla and Jan Juc – later to be known as Torquay, Jan Juc and Bellbrae were served by the police in Geelong and some other larger towns close by. In 1944 the Torquay Improvement Association first requested for a Police Officer be in attendance at the Post Office once a week for the purpose of affixing registration labels and general supervision of the township. Lobbying for the provision of a local police station began in November 1945.
The holiday season brought with it lots of visitors. In January 1947 the Torquay Improvement Association was notified that a constable was appointed for the Christmas to Easter period and a temporary police station was set up in Torquay for many years.
Lobbying continued for a permanent police station. In 1955 it was suggested that a block of land be offered free with the stipulation that a station be built and a policeman be in residence within two years. This offer was withdrawn. At a special meeting in October 1955 the TIA agreed to sell the police department land in Price Street for the sum of £500. Applications continued to be mad for a policeman one day a week, and the TIA offered the use of the supper room as an office.
In July 1955 Constable William (Bill) Finchett, who was stationed at Barwon Heads, visited Torquay each Friday stationed at the Post Office from 2-6pm.
On 9 April 1958 a Police Sub-Station was opened at 10 Spring Street, Torquay classified as being in the “J” Barwon District, No. 2 Division. With no staff being listed for the station at the time it is likely that the station was open for restricted hours and that it was staffed from either Geelong or other police stations in the area.
The station was upgraded to a “full police station” in June 1960. In 1961 there was one Senior Constable, James Poole (1961 – 1966) and one Constable, Wilmont (Bill) Spear (1961 – 1969) in attendance. James had prior experience at Swan Hill were he had supervision and general duties. He was promoted in 1954 and transferred to Cohuna to be in charge of that police station. In 1961 he transferred to Torquay where he served for five years before retiring in 1966.
Constable Bill Spear, a fitter and turner by trade, joined the police force and was appointed Constable on beat duty at Russell Street before transferring to Flinders Lane for beat and general duty. A year later he was on traffic duty around the Town Hall before his appointment to Torquay on motor car general duties. He was promoted in 1969 taking charge of the Beulah Police Station. There was an inquest into his death in 1973.
Snr Constable Leslie Douglas (1968 – 1971) was the next officer in charge following James Poole. After leaving school he was a textile worker before training as a police officer. His first appointment was to Russell Street on beat duty before transferring to Brunswick then duty with the Mobile Traffic Section. After completing a radio operator technician course he was appointed to radio maintenance duties with the traffic section in “X” District. He was promoted in 1959 to Senior Constable at Richmond. After completing duties there, Oakleigh, Box Hill, Ringwood and Croydon Les was transferred to be In Charge at Torquay. Promotion to Sergeant in 1971 subsequently caused him to transfer back to sergeant’s duties at Russell Street.
Les served with Constable Doug Thompson (1970-1975) at Torquay when Bill Spear transferred to Beulah in May 1969. Doug joined the force in 1950 after working previously as an enameller. He was appointed to beat duty at Russell Street before moving to beat duty at Heidelberg. The following year he was on duty at Victoria Dock with the tasks of Inquiry, patrol and goods checking duty before moving back to Russell Street as an approved car driver. After more beat duty at Heidelberg Doug was on wireless patrol at Russell Street, and then more beat duty. He served on general duties with the breathalyser squad for five years before arriving in Torquay for general duties. In 1975 he was transferred to Geelong.
After Les Douglas transferred to Russell Street, Snr. Constable Robert Hicks (1972 – 1980) became the officer in charge joined by Greg Vaughan in 1975. Les joined the police force in 1956 after working as a carpenter. Before arriving at Torquay he had served at the Operations Department, Victoria Dock and had two promotions in that time.
Constable Gregory Vaughan, at Torquay in 1975.
Snr Constable Peter Payne (1980 – )
In 1993 with a local permanent population of 4000 Senior Constables Geoff Nash and Des Kelly described being stationed at Torquay as a lifestyle choice with holiday times being demanding but the rest of the year was “excellent”. Most of the members at the time lived locally with their family. Lewis Chandler was the Sergeant with six senior constables. Stationed with them was the CIB, with five detectives covering the whole peninsula from Torquay to Lorne and up to Winchelsea. The station was manned from 8am to midnight Sunday to Thursday and until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights. They shared the on-call night duties on alternate weeks with Anglesea. Though during the Christmas vacation period, when the population ballooned out to 25,000, the station was manned 24 hours a day.
The permanent population consisted of many transient young people with a lot employed in the surf industry. There were a large number of flats, two pubs (Torquay and Jan Juc) and two nude beaches (Bells Beach Southside and Whites Beach). The major crimes were vandalism, burglaries and car theft, which became more prevalent during the summer months when Torquay becomes the ‘tourist town’. 1993 also saw the introduction of a 24-hour ban on alcohol being consumed from an open container in a public place. Nash and Kelly believed the ban helped crowd control on New Year’s Eve as well as other times of the year.
In summer the station is helped out by relievers, usually about 24 which swells up to 50 police on New Year’s Eve. During the New Year weekend the divisional van and two unmarked cars were also supported by a brawler van, two more divisional vans, two more marked police cars and a helicopter on New Year’s Eve. On average 20 people are locked up during the night.
With the population of Torquay and the area growing constantly a new ‘green’ police station opened for business in March 2007 on the Surf Coast Highway, Torquay. The new $7.8 million station was hailed as an exemplary model of environmentally-friendly design at its official opening in the October. However staff shortages often saw the building vacant and telephone calls went unanswered.
The old police still stands in Price Street as part of the community precinct linked to Torquay Community House. The old lockup was purchased and relocated to a private property. It still stands today.
‘Sydney Monitor’, 8 September, 1837
Victoria Police Gazette, October 26, 1961
Victorian Police Association Journal, December 1993
Police Life, December 2007
Surf Coast Times 30 October 2007
Victoria Police Museum