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Introduction To The Organised Police Service In 1892 History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Since the first formation of the organised police service in 1892 the service has had to continually adapt to meet the changes within society. An example of this would be during the beginning of the 1960’s the police service was still conducting foot patrols when the general public and criminals where using motor vehicles. Therefore this lead to the police service deserting some foot patrols in favour of conducting patrols with vehicles which later become known as ‘Panda Cars’. This specific change had a major impact on the size of the police service and the way that they conducted patrols. This essay will describe how British culture, public perceptions and expectations have constantly influenced the development of the police service since the beginning of 1829 to the present day.

During this essay, research will describe how British culture, public perceptions and expectations have continued to influence the development of the police service from its early beginning in 1829 to the present day. Within the planning of this essay it will show acknowledgement that the development of the police service has been a continuous process which has taken place over the last 177 years.

Policing in Great Britain started with tribes or family groups consisting of a family head that had to maintain the law and apply punishment to those who broke the law. One of the most severe punishments was banishment, this was generally reserved for a habitual offender. This was effectively a death sentence to them. The main origin of the British Policing comes from tribes and is based on securing order through appointed representatives. Basically the people were their own police. The Saxons brought this system to England and even developed and improved the organization. This later saw the division of people into groups of ten which were called “tythings”. A tything-man would be appointed and each tything would be represented by their tything-man. Each of ten tythings would be labelled a “hundred” headed by a “hundred-man” who’s responsible to the Shire or Sheriff of the County. During the eighteenth century saw an immense social and economical change and movement of population to the towns. The parish constable and the “watch” systems failed completely and this later led to the formation of the “New Police”

The idea of the police force as a protective law enforcement organization came from the use

of military people as guardians of the peace. The Guardians of the Peace (An Garda Síochána), was first established in 1922. It is a nationwide force headed by a commissioner who is responsible to the minister for justice. Only a few hundred of the Guardians of Peace are assigned to detective duties. They are usually plainclothes officers and when necessary can be armed, the rest of the force is uniformed and unarmed. This force ascended from ancient Rome. The Romans had a high level of law enforcement which did remain in effect until the decline of the empire. On the other hand policing authority in England was the responsibility of the local nobles. Each noble generally appointed an official, who where known as constables and they had to enforce the law. The duties of a constable included keeping the peace, arresting and guarding criminals. For many years constables were unpaid citizens who at that time took turns doing the job, because of this, policing became very unpopular and strained the constables that where already doing the job.

Policing in the City of London has existed there since the Roman’s. One of the current police headquarters is actually built on part of a Roman fortress, the name of the headquarters is Wood Street. Before all of this, policing was divided up into day and night shifts which was policed by only two Sheriffs. It was their responsibility to ensure that the night watch was maintained. In the year 1838 the day police and night watch were merged into a single organisation. The ‘City of London Act’ was eventually passed in 1839 which gave approval to the force as an independent police body. During 1842 the City Police had moved its headquarters from Corporation’s Guildhall to 26 Old Jewry where it remained until its move to Wood Street in 2002. In the year 1829 Sir Richard Mayne wrote:

“The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity and the absence of crime will alone provide whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.” Sir Richard Mayne was a barrister but later was the joint first Commissioner of the Met Police which was basically the head of the Metropolitan Police. Racking up 39 years as Commissioner Sir Richard Mayne holds the Metropolitan’s longest service as well as starting the youngest.

Bow Street Runners

The system of law enforcement had hardly changed since medieval times. Justice of Peace (JPs) where still about and they were also assisted by Constables who only worked part time and were very unreliable because the pay was so bad. Watchmen were also employed, they were called Charleys after King Charles 11 who was the person who introduced them. On the other hand there was a problem with Charleys and that was that they were useless. Lord Mayor of London Mathew Wood said “They spent very little time patrolling, instead they would be in their boxes playing cards, going to pubs with prostitutes or sleeping!” Wood (M.b para 2) even stated that some took bribes from criminals. Because of the public and the way that London was growing something needed to be done. A famous writer names Henry Fielding became a chief magistrate at Bow Street Court in 1748 and a report done be him states about the crime and he later published it in 1751. The report states the problems according to Henry was that there were too many people coming to London in seek of an easy life, the government was corrupt, people were choosing crime over hard work and the constables were useless, only 6 out of 80 were worth keeping. Henry Fielding set up horse patrol and also had a magazine called the “Covent Garden Journel” which gave people information about crimes and criminals. Later in 1754 Henry’s half brother took over.

Timeline of the

John Fielding




Suggested Londoners should pay a subscription to fund a special horse patrol. This was rejected.


Suggested London be divided into six areas with their own patrols and police stations. Rejected again.

£600 given by the government to hire eight men to patrol the highways – this ended highway robbery, but was not continued!


‘General Preventative Plan’ – £400 used to co-ordinate information from gaols and JPs – which was published in a newspaper called Hue and Cry.


London divided into seven police districts.


River Thames Police set up


54 armed men employed to patrol the highways – they became known as ‘Robin Redbreasts’ because of their red coats.


London had 450 constables and 4,000 watchmen for a population of 1.5 million.

Something bigger was needed

This timeline shows the changes (J.F) in London during the later 1750’s

Watchmen and Constables

During the 18th century policing and law enforcement was left entirely to the locals. There was no national organised policing at all. The first paid watchmen were brought about in the 1730’s to patrol towns at night but the rural areas had a less formal arrangement. However from the beginning of the 18th century statistics showed that crime was increasing at an alarming rate.

Sir Robert Peel

Peeler was the British Prime Minister two times running. His father was a wealthy land owner which may have given him the edge. In 1809 he first joined parliament as a Tory, his early political career included war and colonies secretary which was in 1809 but later became chief secretary of Ireland in 1812. A more important year is 1822 where Peeler became Home Secretary. He later introduced far-ranging law and prison reform and even created the Metropolitan Police, the term ‘bobbies’ and ‘peelers’ came from his name.

The Term Police

The term “Police” was actually borrowed from French into the English language during the 18th century. Prior to the 19th century the only official use of the word “police” was recorded in the UK from the appointment of Commissioners of Police for Scotland in the year 1714. Even to this day British police forces refer to themselves as “Constabularies” rather than the “Police” (Britannica).

With the rise of capitalism in the 1800’s there was a huge increase in laws passed to regulate people’s lives. These included a range of new offences and crimes against property as well as laws like the new ‘Poor Law’ that dealt with people who’s crime was poverty and unemployment. Another reason for introduction of the Police Force was not to protect ordinary working people from petty crime or violence. Rather the Police were created to protect property of the rich and this included protecting their interests in the class struggle.

The 1835 ‘Municipal Corporations Act’ helped older boroughs to sort out their structure and allowed new towns to become included. Towns that were included were instructed to set up their own police force but only few of them seemed eager enough to help implement the law. Municipal forces were only half the size of London, far smaller than the population. In 1848 there were still 62 large towns which still had no council therefore had no recognised police force. In the early 20th century there were 181 police forces in Britain, most of them were very small 41 of them had less than 50 police men. Different forces worked in different ways and there was little or no contact or cooperation between them. There was no central criminal record keeping. Greater mobility of criminals and the need to use new technology lead to the amalgamation of police forces. By 1946 there were 120 forces and by the year 2000 there were only 41. In 1900 there was 1600 police, by 2000 there were over 125,000. Over that century they became a much better trained force. In 1900 new recruits learnt by doing the job, these days there are a 14 week training course at a nation police college which was established in 1947. The first woman to join the police was in 1920 and the first women chief constable was appointed in 1996.

One of the biggest changes of the later 20th century was to take the police off the beat and put them in cars. This has not been popular with the public as they no longer see a policeman on the beat, and in many places the walking beat is now being restored. Modern technology has been adopted to meet new the more sophisticated criminal and to improve police work. There are now many different specialist units from dog handlers to swat team. The use of fingerprints, forensics and DNA has vastly improved the gathering of police evidence.

With the invention of the motor vehicle and the increase of criminals using them crime steadily increased until a huge increase in 1960 which inevitably lead to the criticism of the police who’s job it was to prevent this. For their part the police pointed out that shortage of manpower and the collapse of social ties in many areas of British cities were largely responsible for this situation.

They used to say “you can’t outrun Motorola” but in the UK, you can’t outrun a trio of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X cars that are now owned by the Yorkshire county police as stated by Matt Hardigree (web). The road Crime unit of the South Yorkshire police will now be using the Evo X along side a fleet of Evo VIII and IX police cars all in order to trap speeders and other criminals. This is all in order because of the style and the scary image the new police cars give. It is also because of the new growing culture of modified cars that can outrun the old police cars due to their modifications.

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