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Describe law and order in London in the late 19th century

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Describe law and order in London in the late 19th century The Metropolitan Police Force was set up in 1829 by the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel (this is where the nicknames "peelers" and "bobbies" came from). This is was to combat the rising numbers of crime, especially big disturbances like riots. Before the Met, there were two police forces: the Bow Street Runners and the Thames River Police Force. Watchmen and parish constables, who were only effective up to a certain point, patrolled the streets. The Met was set up to carry out the functions of both roles; keep order and deter crime but also tackle major disturbances. ...read more.


They were also unarmed, except for truncheons and rattles to attract attention (later replaced by whistles). This was all to make them as unlike the army as possible. Many early recruits were unsuitable (often due to drunkenness), resigned or sacked. This was unsurprising considering how demanding the job of being a policeman was. At first, the Met was very unpopular, as the lower classes did not like being told what to do, often by middle or upper class policemen. Many officers suffered violent attacks and some people even drove their coaches straight at policemen. Views soon changed after it became clear crime was lessening, however it also became clear that they might not be using the best methods. ...read more.


There were other developments in the late 19th century. In 1879 instructions were made for murder cases saying that the body should not be moved, nothing should be interfered with and the public should be excluded. Forensics improved drastically with the Alphonse Bertillon method of identification; measuring parts of the body on the assumption that no-one is the same, in 1892. Fingerprinting was not adopted until 1901. However, the Met still had problems. Public opinion was very low after they charged demonstrations in the 1880s with excessive force, and were seen as not acting impartially. People now thought that they favoured the middle and upper classes. Although it had improved a lot the Met was still developing. Many methods we now have were unknown, and they still had a long way to go. ...read more.

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