This assignment looks at how the modern police force has developed since it was first formed as the Metropolitan Police force and how it has developed to and expanded. Also how the public perceives the police and what they expect from them.
In the early 19th century there was very little organisation in the police force, but as London expanded and the population increased the law and order needed to be maintained. Crime and policy came under investigation and in 1828 Sir Robert Peel organised a committee that provided evidence for his new police bill which is the main thing that led to the police force in London becoming organised. The metropolitan police was first organised in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel and Sir Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne are appointed as Justices of the peace who are in charge of the police force. In 1834 the select committee who inquire into how well the police are working within the metropolis area reported that ‘ that the metropolitan police force, as respects its influence in repressing crime and the security it has given to persons and property, is one of the most valuable modern institution’. In 1836 the metropolitan police take the bow street horse patrol into its ranks. The select committee then look into affairs of police officers and recommend that the City of London police should be put under the control of the metropolitan police force. In 1838 the select committee recommends that the marine police section and the bow street runners, who were the first organised and paid police force, and the bow street office is also to be disbanded. All of these recommendations came into effect in this year. The dockyard division of the metropolitan police is formed in 1841 and in ’42 the detective department is formed. By 1845 the commissioners aim to have one police officer to every 450 people in the population. By the end of the 1840’s there was a large scale enrolment into the special constabulary to help the metropolitan police deal with the chartist demonstrations, the strength of the metropolitan police was 5,288 who were able to perform duty and the population of London at the time was 2,473,758. The ‘black marias’ were used to move prisoners in 1857. In 1862 there was further recruitment into the metropolitan police and the X and Y divisions were formed in west London and Y division in the north and later on they patrolled north east London. The standard height is raised to 5ft 8ins except for the dockyard division which is 5ft 7ins. The police strike for the first time in 1872. The police offices at Great Scotland yard are taken into possession on the 4th October 1875 by the detective department. In 1879 Initial rules for dealing with Murder cases, released on 7 June, stated “the body must not be moved, nor anything about it or in the room or place interfered with, and the public must be excluded..” there were 13,319 officers in the metropolitan police force by 1885 for a population 5,255,069. The new headquarters are opened at New Scotland Yard in 1890. In 1895 there were certain qualifications that had to be met to join the police which were they had to be over 21 and under 27 when they joined, they also had to be 5ft 9ins tall without shoes, they also have to be able to read well and have readable writing, have a reasonable level of intelligence and be in good health. In the last year of the 19th century the metropolitan police force had risen to 16,000 officers to police 7 million people. The finger print bureau started operations in 1901.when the First World War starts in 1914 24,000 special constables were recruited and by the end of the year there were 31,000 and women were also first recruited in this year to police the women who had taken over most of the jobs the men had done. By the end of the First World War there was another strike for more pay and better conditions and recognition of the union. Women started patrolling in 1919 and the flying squad was formed. The police box system was started on an experimental basis. The metropolitan police forensic laboratory is opened in 1935. The 999 system was introduced in ’37. In the 60’s the police started using vehicles more instead of foot patrols in the form of the panda car. The headquarters are moved, in 1967, from the Norman Shaw building to Broadway but keeps the name New Scotland Yard. In 1980 the metropolitan Air Support Unit was first formed. In 1997 the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System was installed (N.A.F.I.S).
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The requirements to join the police has changed drastically since they first came in in 1895. There are no academic requirements, it is open to graduates and non graduates where as before officers had to have good level of reading and writing but because the education system has developed since the 19th century and everyone has to go to school that isn’t usually a problem. There is no longer a height requirement for recruits especially know as there are no restrictions on sex or ethnic background to join the police. the age requirement is very broad now as it is 18 and a half -55 years old, where as before it was between 21 and 27 to join. Applicants still have to be reasonably fit and healthy but now have to go through several fitness tests. The entry requirements to join the police now are now more general as it is open to anyone.
Police communications started when the telephone was first invented, police phones and boxes were set up in the cities so that police could check in and report crimes. The police boxes were replaced with the police band radio came in several configuration, some had multiple channels, the radio was usually mounted in a panda car and was used to inform and update other officers on patrol. The radio has developed further into the radio system that is used today which is the airwave radio. The airwave radio is a digital and has replaced the analogue radio. There are many benefits of the airwaves radio some of which are there is improved coverage and speech clarity, also improved security and encryptions of communications, national roaming, scope for mobile data applications and improved ability for inter operational communications between the police and other emergency services. The police needed a new radio system because the old one had become out of date and the digital technology provides much better coverage and clearer signals. The TETRA technology covers more of the country so there are fewer gaps in the coverage, TETRA can also cope with major incidents when there are going to be many radios being used at the same time without overloading the network.
During the Brixton riots the police were not equipped properly to deal with the situation and not only did many officers get injured but they were also forced to use bin lids for protection. The riot gear has since improved and the padded protection covers the body, there are proper helmets with face guards and the shield that are designed to with stand the situation of a riot.
Sikhs in the police are not allowed to join the fire arms unit because they cant wear a helmet due to their religious requirements which are the 5 k’s. The one that is the problem is the Kesh or uncut hair. Having uncut hair is believed to be a symbol of holiness and strength and is also a symbol of their wish to move beyond concerns of the body. British Police Sikh Association calls on Home Office to develop ballistic material to allow members to join firearms units. Sikh police officers want to have bulletproof turbans made so that they can be in the fire arms unit. In Sikhism men are required to wear a turban but because of the current police safety regulations they have to wear a helmet but they dont fit on top of the turbans and their religion states that they are not allowed to remove the turban. A ballistic material is being developed that would provide a degree of protection when worn so that Sikh police officers can be involved in fire arms operations, although there is an augment that Sikhs dont have to wear crash helmets when they are riding a bike or motorcycle under the motorcycle crash helmets(religious exemption) act 1976. Research has begun to find the right material for making the bulletproof turban but it needs to pass the Home Offices tests before it can be issued to officers. Tens of thousands of pounds has already been spent to try and find a wear that Sikhs can wear but will also provide an adequate amount of protection, this happened when a Sikh officer applied to join the counter-terrorist operational Support Unit.
Police community support officer (PCSO), work on the frontline with the local police force, providing a visible and reassuring presence on the streets and tackling the problem of anti-social behaviour. It is a full time, paid job. PCSOs have different roles in different forces, but they usually patrol a beat and interact with the public, while also offering assistance to police officers at crime scenes and major events. Depending on where they work, they can deal with minor offences, offer early intervention to help stop or slow down people who are committing an offence, provide support to police on the front line, conduct house to house enquiries, guard and monitor crime scenes and provide crime prevention advice to the general public. Although PCSOs do not have the same powers as regular police officers, they still carry a lot of responsibility, and are a critical part of the police force. They do not carry any of the equipment that regular police use like cuffs because they haven’t had the training and they don’t have the right to enforce the law. Police community support officer will work to complement and support regular police officers, providing a visible and accessible uniformed presence to improve the quality of life in the community and offer greater public reassurance. Police community support officers have a unique role that is designed purely to tackle local anti-social behaviour and issues affecting other peopels quality of life. Police Forces continue to support community support officers because they areproviding a visible and regular patrol, unlike neighbourhood wardens, they are employed by the police and have some powers provided by an Act of Parliament to allow them to directly tackle some anti-social behaviour issues.
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The term moral panics are mainly associated with Stan Cohen, who used it in his book ‘Mods and Rockers’ in the 60s. Cohen’s sociology was a mixture of American labelling theory and left wing British sociology which concerns youth and social class. Societies are subjected to periods of moral panic, a condition, episode, person or a group of people can be thought of a threat to a societie’s values and interests, its nature is stereotypically presented by the media. Sometimes the focus of the panic always around but can suddenly appear in the public’s eye and can easily pass on and be forgotten but it can also be of a more serious nature and be kept in the front of the public’s mind which can cause changes to be made in legal and social policies. One of the most remembered uses of the term was in Jock Young’s article in 1971 when he talked about the public concern about drug use. Thompson (1998) came up with five stages in a moral panic. One is something or someone that is defined as a threat to values or interests. Two is the threat is shown as a recognisable form by the media. Three is there is a quick build up of public concern. Four is that there is a response from the authorities. Five is the panic recedes or there are results in social changes.
The police have changed over the years to make them more efficient at their job of protecting the publics life and property. Thing like the new finger print system have helped to catch criminal and reduce the amount of crime. Police cars have made the police more mobile and capable of attending incidences quicker and the radio has made police able to communicate with any other officers with in their force and also they can report incidences and accidents quicker which allow other services to respond which saves more lives and makes the general public feel safer and trust the police with their safety. The police community support officers may not be able to enforce the law like regular officers but they can act as a deterrent because they are someone in uniform which criminals and law breakers would be aware of, they also provide reassurance to they public and can give information to other people making them aware of causes of crime and what the police do to stop it from happening. The police are making sure that all the forces have more women and ethnic minorities so that they can relate to the smaller communities who could other wise be less inclined to approach police because they might think of them as racist due to allegations that were made during the 1980’s so having women and ethnic minorities working in the police gives the whole police force a more approachable look.
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