In the eighteenth century there were many public disturbances and demonstrations. There was a large amount of robberies and murders. There were high levels of crime so the government offered rewards for capturing and convicting people who had committed serious crimes such as high way robbery. People also gave rewards when their stolen goods were given back. These thief takers were often corrupt and blackmailed criminals for protection money. They also encouraged people to commit crimes so that they could get a reward for catching them.
There was a great need for an organised police force.Before the nineteenth century no-one had ever heard of police forces. In those days watchmen and parish constables patrolled the streets. They knew the area well and knew local troublemakers so did quite a good job at preventing robberies and small disturbances.The first police forces came about in the 1800s.
There were two main police forces in Britain. They were the Bow Street Runners (1749) and the Thames Water Police Force. The Bow Street Runners and the Thames Water Police Force weren’t much different than watchmen and parish constables. They just took over from them.A big change in policing happened in 1829. Sir Robert Peel the Home Secretary set up the Metropolitan Police Force.
The Metropolitan Police Force still exists today.The Metropolitan Police Force was set up to take on the roles of previous police forces. They were to keep the streets safe by patrolling them and prevent crime. The patrols were called “beats”. The Met was not set up to solve crime and took no responsibility when a crime was committed.During the nineteenth century the working class held many demonstrations because of the way they were treated. The Government weren’t happy about the working class voicing their opinions and felt the need to keep them in their place.
In the early nineteenth century the army were used to break up these demonstrations. One of the Met’s roles was to take control of the demonstrations but on many occasions they had to call in the army for assistance. The army were able to clear the crowds in a matter of minutes.The Met weren’t very tactful in how they tackled public demonstrations which often resulted in the death of many demonstrators. The Met made a big mistake by using batons to get rid of demonstrators.
This caused a lot of hate towards among the working class towards the Met because they felt that all the Met was doing was interfering with their affairs. Every time the Met intervened in public demonstrations there were frequent deaths which angered more people and created a negative feeling towards the Met in the working and lower class.However the Met was favoured by the middle and upper classes. They thought the Met were keeping them save and preventing any damage to their properties. The PUNCH, a newspaper that spoke of the views of the middle class and upper class, often praised the Met for their work.The Met were given nicknames after their founder, Sir Robert Peel.
The Met were given the nicknames peelers and bobby. The Punch often made comments like “the London bobby is protecting us”.The choice of uniform for the Met was very carefully picked. It was clear that red would not be a good idea because that was the colour of the army. The army did not have a good reputation between the working and middle class.
It was decided that the Met would have a dark blue uniform which was similar to the uniform the Navy wore. People saw the Navy as heroes. The Government thought that having police officers wearing a similar uniform to the Navy would make people like them more.Police officers hardly got any training before they started work. All police officers learned the military drill before being sent out on a beat. Their inspection was on how well they could perform parades rather than police work.Hours of work were very long.
Hours could go up to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. A beat at daytime was seven and a half hours miles long. At night it was two miles long.There were many different police forces up and down the country. Different police forces had different uniforms and roles. Some required officers to attend church on Sundays whilst others required them to wear their uniform off duty.
Some of the different roles of police forces were inspecting bridges, being lifesavers and were used as school attendance officers.In 1839 the Rural Constabulary Act was passed. This allowed magistrates to decide whether to set up police forces in each county. Twenty-two counties decided to set police forces so in 1856 the County and Borough police Act was passed which meant all counties had to create police forces. Through the Act each county received annual government grants of 25%.
This was to help pay the cost of running police forces. However to get the grant the three Inspectors of Constabulary had to issue a county a certificate of efficiency before the grant was given. Chief Constables had to send an annual report to the Home Office. The report included crime rates of counties.
With the County and Borough Act in place, policing became much organised.There was very little detective work in the early nineteenth century. The first detectives were appointed in 1842 by the Metropolitan Police. The first inspectors were not very effective because the Home Office thought that detectives would become corrupt if they are too friendly with criminals. Detective work began to be more organised in 1860.The reorganisation of the Criminal Intelligence Department now known as CID led to improvements. Figures showed that with more detectives working for the Criminal Intelligence there were more arrests.
The methods used by the Met in the early days were not very effective or fair. In 1862 photographs of criminals were taken at prisons. They were then sent to Scotland Yard where they were placed in a room. This room was called the “Rogues Gallery”. The photographs were taken because it was believed that detectives could work out the criminal type criminals were involved in by the shape of their head.In 1879 instructions were introduced for investigating officers on a murder scene. It was said that the body of the deceased must not be moved, anything in the room must not be moved and the public must be kept away from seeing the dead victim or the crime scene. However it was difficult to keep to these rules because there were still less detectives than there were in other major cities.
The most common method used by police officers was to follow suspicious characters while on the beat. Detectives also used this method to solve crime.The police learned how fingerprints play a major part in solving crime in the early part of the nineteenth century. The first conviction using fingerprints was in June 1902.
In the nineteenth century detectives were very limited to forensic knowledge. However in 1884 John Toms was convicted of murder using forensic evidence. But the conviction was down to luck because the same torn paper used for John’s pistol wadding was found in the wound of the victim’s head.