Before the Bobbies: The Night Watch and Police Reform in by Elaine Reynolds

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By Elaine Reynolds

The famed Bow road Runners weren't the single “police” in eighteenth-century London. This e-book examines the evening watch method, the in the neighborhood managed regime of legislation enforcement that supplied expert policing within the parts of metropolitan London outdoor the town of London till 1829, the yr during which Sir Robert Peel verified England’s first centralized police strength (the Metropolitan Police, often called Scotland Yard).

The procedure in which the evening watch used to be reworked right into a expert police strength started within the 1730’s with laws allowing neighborhood specialists (parishes and vestries) to tax citizens for policing companies. Thereafter, neighborhood specialists experimented with and built the various options which are now linked to sleek policing, together with using execs, beat platforms, uniforms, and a hierarchical chain of command. What emerges from the author’s distinct exam of the many years of neighborhood police reform and improvement within the interval best as much as the 1829 Metropolitan Police Act is a miles fuller photograph of the origins of contemporary policing, besides a revised realizing of the historical past to the Act.

Loyal forces had turn into more and more varied, making centralization a key factor, and reformers have been additionally pushed through issues approximately usual estate crime and fears of radicalism. The publication therefore addresses numerous vital historiographical matters surrounding the origins of contemporary nation authority, and exhibits that the early sleek British country was once extra attentive to city difficulties than has formerly been acknowledged.

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Extra info for Before the Bobbies: The Night Watch and Police Reform in Metropolitan London, 1720-1830

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First, it is clear that crime prevention was the primary focus, with detection as a secondary concern. Whether the watch accomplished either task in a more efficient way than the previous system is difficult to determine but the expectation was there. Secondly, vestries had to adapt their organizations to everyday realities on the street. The result was often more formal, bureaucratic arrangements and specialization of tasks. The vestries of Piccadilly and Hanover Square first met on 2 June 1735 to establish and regulate their night watches.

Watchmen were expected to prevent crime. The preambles to the acts which established these night watches state this clearly. The act for St Martin-in-the-Fields asserts the keeping of a sufficient and well regulated Watch in the Night Time [is necessary] for the Preservation of the Persons and Properties of the Inhabitants ... and very necessary to prevent as well the Mischiefs which may happen from Fires, as Murders, Burglaries, Robberies, and other Outrages and Disorders. 96 Little is known about those hired as watchmen.

50 Several turnpike trusts took on the task of protecting their patrons from highway men and footpads. The Hackney turnpike trustees reported to the House of Commons in November 1755: that the said Roads, by reason of their Contiguity to the Suburbs of the City of London, are frequently infested in the Night-time with Robbers and other wicked and evil-disposed Persons, upon which account many of His Majesty's Subjects coming from the Northern and Eastern Parts of this Kingdom to the said City, as also may others residing in, ...

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