The Royal Commission evidence for 21/7/1881
(see also introduction to day 38 )
The public were re-admitted.
Insp Henry Baber sworn and examined.
13816 You have been for several months since the capture of the Kellys performing duty with me at Benalla?— Yes.
13817 You have been also several years in the district previous to that?— Yes, I lived several years in the district previous to that.
13818 Was I in the habit of conferring with you about police matters the last twelve months while you were with me?— Yes, I was, when at home, constantly in the office carrying on the duties under your direction.
13819 You were satisfied you had my confidence?— No doubt of it, in what was transpiring at that time.
13820 Was not the strength of the station at the time I was transferred greatly reduced?— Yes, the strength was being reduced at that time in compliance with the instructions from the Chief Commissioner's office.
13821 And since I left it has been considerably increased?— Yes, about the middle of May it was considerably increased again.
13822 You had an opportunity when I was in service with you of judging of the treatment of the men under my charge?— Yes, certainly.
13823 Was my treatment of them perfectly just and considerate, in your opinion?— Yes, it was just, fair, and impartial.
13824 You have never known an instance to the contrary?— No; in fact, you always exhibited considerable kindness towards the members of the force.
13825 Were you able to judge whether the police throughout the district relied entirely on my judgment and experience in matters of difficulty?— I think they had every confidence in you.
13826 Do you think they relied on my confidence and judgment—was it apparent?— No doubt of it, that they did rely on your confidence and judgment, and I have always done so myself.
13827 Will you look at that list of persons whom I consider to be criminals?—[The witness did so.]
13828 Are there about sixteen persons mentioned there?— Yes.
13829 Do they still belong to the district?— I see one or two who may have gone to the shearing to New South Wales, but they are still connected with the district; it is their home.
13830 Do they form a very dangerous community?— Certainly; but the position of affairs has been very much improved since the middle of May; the accommodation of the force and stations have been increased in strength, and are therefore placed on a more efficient footing.
13831 Is it in consequence of that increase that they are more safe than when I reported on the security of the district?— The reduction was against your wishes.
13832 The enlargement I wanted was the extension of the boundaries of the district; do you consider the district, as it stands at present, of an unmanageable extent?— I do, certainly. I have a very fair knowledge of the district, and I think the district would be better worked if divided into two districts.
13833 Do you think it is practicable, with one district only, to maintain the efficiency of the police?— It could be better maintained if the district were divided, and it could be worked better from two centres than from one centre.
13834 Is not one effect of the enlargement of the district an immense amount of correspondence coming into the head office?— Yes, and therefore too great a strain on the head office; and you cannot keep the outlying stations so well under way.
13835 Is one of the effects of that great strain on the superintendent’s office to hinder him in visiting his out-stations?— Yes, and especially so with the additional anxiety of the Kelly affairs.
13836 Is the correspondence so great as to hinder the superintendent visiting when he ought to do —It does. Things are cropping up continually that require his presence at head-quarters.
13838 Did I then come up after Power, the bushranger?— I really forget. You came in the ordinary course of things, and were stationed at Beechworth.
13839 During the time I was stationed under you, and since then, did you ever know me to mislead you or any other officer?— You were under my direction for several years, and performed your duty well. You were a little bit lax in discipline sometimes, but I had reason to be very much pleased with your conduct.
13840 What character did I bear when a mounted constable?— You were prompt in the execution of your duty, and you were very efficient in the detection of crime.
The witness withdrew. ....
This document gives you the text of the report about the KellyGang for this day. The text has been retyped from a microfiche copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. This document is subject to coypright.