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The police force - history.

Extracts from this document...


Emma Bowall


History Coursework

Question One

The police force was invented in the nineteenth century. There were just two forces in Britain, in 1800; one was the Bow Street Runners, the other, the Thames River police force. Before the Metropolitan Police Force was set up in 1829, the streets of Britain were patrolled by watchmen and parish constables. There were also Special Constables, who could not deal with problems, such as riots (Which were common in Britain.).

The Metropolitan Police Force (Or ‘Met’) was set up by Sir Robert Peel. These officers were a mixture of the watchmen and special constables, their duties were to patrol the streets and settle disturbances, such as riots. Sometimes, the ‘Met’ helped the army. There was confusion between the two forces. The British people did not like seeing the ‘redcoat’ uniform of the army, and so the uniform of the Metropolitan Police Force were given a new uniform.

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Detectives were first used by the Metropolitan Police Force in 1842. There were not many of these officers, there were two inspectors and six sergeants. The public did not like the idea of these detectives at first. They believed that, as they would be in plain clothes, they would not be easily seen as policemen. The Home Office was also concerned, but they worried that the detectives would soon become corrupt officers. Detective work did not begin until the 1860s. A sergeant and inspector investigated a murder in Wiltshire. Detectives began to take photographs of criminals in 1862. They were used to start a ‘Rogues Gallery’. This was created because it was thought that the different shapes of criminals’ heads could be used to decide which crimes they had committed.

The Detective Department was set up in 1869, but it did not work out as planned. Just as the Home Office had feared, most of the inspectors in this department were found guilty of being corrupt officers.

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From the very beginning of the police force, in the nineteenth century, the methods of which crime was dealt with changed greatly. The introduction of forensics and fingerprinting massively increased the amount of crime that was solved. The public never really liked having these officers, especially when they had the same uniform as the army. They thought that they dealt with things too violently. In some cases, this may be true. Such as the baton charge, which killed a PC during a riot at Cold Bath Fields in London. Setting up the Metropolitan Police Force brought many changes to the police. When they were brought into service, the amount of crime on the street went down (Although the number of burglaries went up). ‘CID’ was introduced, which led to improvements in the police work of the detectives. The police force was concerned about keeping crime levels down, by having officers on the beat, but this was not enough to stop some criminals.

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