The history of police staff associations can be traced back to the 19th century when officers were denied any rights of association, were poorly paid, worked long hours without days off and were subject to very strict discipline. Police strikes and the use of the military to restore and maintain order were not uncommon. The present prohibition on joining a trade union or taking strike action can be traced back to this early turbulent history.

Whilst the 1919 Police Act created a Police Federation in England and Wales to represent officers below the rank of Superintendent, no formal provision was made for Superintendents.

However, in 1920 the first central conference was arranged for Superintendents and this was the embryo for the present Superintendents' Association.

In 1952, following the Oaksey Committee Report, which had been set up to make recommendations on a number of matters impacting on police pay and conditions of service, the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales was formed. The Association survived and lived through the Willink Commision (1960), the Edmund-Davies Inquiry (1977) and the Sheehy Inquiry (1992) and remains the sole representative and negotiating body for Superintendents. The Association moved to its present offices in Pangbourne from Chiswick in 1985.