1. Describe law and order in London in the late nineteenth century Jaidip Vekaria
Law and order changed dramatically during the 1800s and the new police force faced many problems because Britain's population was growing and so was the number of crimes being committed. The police had to make changes and improve the force to ensure that crime was being reduced.
The enforcement of law and order was as it had been since the Middle Ages in Victorian Britain. The main people in charge of law and order were the Justices of the Peace (J.P.s) who were appointed by the king and were helped by constables and watchmen. There were two police forces in London at the start of the 1800s, the ‘Bow Street Runners’ which had been set up in 1750 and founded by a London magistrate named Henry Fielding. He wanted to do something about con men, beggars, thieves and prostitutes lurking around in Bow Street. He gathered some men and armed them with handcuffs, a pistol, and a stick and told them to catch as many criminals as possible and soon they got their official name. The other force was the ‘Thames River police force’ which was only just set up in 1800 and was formed by magistrate Patrick Colquhoun and a Master Mariner, John Harriott, in 1798 to tackle theft and looting from ships anchored in the Pool of London and the lower reaches of the river. The two police forces only dealt with small crimes like petty theft and didn’t really target serious crimes such as homicide and whenever riots broke out in London, the government was forced to call the army because the ‘Runners’ and the ‘River police’ could not control the crowds. For example, when rioters broke open Newgate Jail and attacked the Bank of England, the bank was only saved by the Lord Mayor who defended it with the Grenadier Guards. However, as Britain's population grew so did the number of crimes committed and law and order really had to be improved so the Metropolitan Police Force was set up.
This is a preview of the whole essay
The Metropolitan Police Force was set up due to many reasons. Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the Metropolitan Police Force, said that the police were not effective or productive and said something had to be changed but in 1829, London's population had grown to a staggering 1.5 million and there were only 450 constables and 4,000 watchmen patrolling the city streets. Also, London depended too much on the armed forces especially when riots broke out. For example, in the later part of the 1800s, the Metropolitan Police Force had to deal with a mass demonstration of unemployed in Trafalgar Square and on the 13 November 1887 also known as ‘Bloody Sunday’, was when the Metropolitan Police charged a demonstration by the Metropolitan Radical Federation and they were backed up by two squadrons of Life Guards and two companies of foot guards. This was because the tactics of dealing with crime was inefficient and caused problems for the police; they usually were armed with truncheons and cutlasses and they were often attacked because of the hatred towards them by the public who didn’t like the idea of a new police force. What's more, there was a rise in homicide, robbery, theft and burglary in London as a result of the Industrial Revolution. When the Metropolitan Police Force was set up, police still faced many problems.
During the early years of the Metropolitan Police Force, they were met with many problems. One major issue was the fact the recruits were not suitable, they were often very drunk and many resigned or were sacked from the force. The recruits also only had a little training such as marching/drilling; they were not trained to solve crimes and only to stop crowds. Also, the public, mainly working class people, truly hated the police and they often attacked them and in one instance some policemen, or ‘bobbies’ and ‘peelers’ as the police were called because of their founder Sir Robert Peel, were run over by a coach and were seriously injured. The public were unhappy with the new police force because they didn’t like being told what to do by people in uniform. This was because the British people had always disliked seeing ‘redcoats’, the colour of the army’s uniform on the streets so the Metropolitan Police Force changed there uniform colour to blue. The blue uniforms were used because the navy had blue uniforms and they were known as the defenders of Great Britain. The police wore blue jackets with silver buttons, blue trousers, boots and top hats lined with iron as the police were often attacked. However, middle class people began to like the new police force and called them ‘the defenders of order’ and called the police ‘national favourites’ and gradually, the crime figures were reduced and the public were also realising this and it helped with their approval of the new police force. During the nineteenth century, there were many new developments within the new police force.
In 1842, a new Detective Department was created within the Metropolitan Police Force but there was a lot of suspicion about this new development and by 1848 there were only eight detectives and the Home Office thought that the detectives would become too friendly with criminals and that they would become corrupt and in 1877, three of the four inspectors in the Detective Department were found guilty of corruption. Also, in 1869, the National Criminal Record was set up and it dealt with the most notorious and infamous criminals. Law and order had changed considerably since the early 1800s and in 1877, a Criminal Investigations Department (CID) was set up with 200 detectives and also, in 1878 the Detective Department was reorganised which led to dramatic improvements. However, the methods used by detectives to solve murders were not advanced; they only had just learnt the usefulness of footprints. On the other hand, there was some forensic advancement when a torn paper used for pistol wadding matched the paper recovered from the wound in the victim. In 1879, some rules were made when a murder had taken place such as not touching the victim’s body until it was analysed. Also, in the early twentieth century, the police first used photographs to keep profiles of criminals and also to take photos of crime scenes as evidence. There was also further progress when fingerprinting was introduced in the early twentieth century and in 1902 the first person was convicted due to fingerprinting. Police developments grew dramatically during the late nineteenth century.
Overall, law and order improved significantly over the course of the nineteenth century. By 1900, the police force had changed considerably and made some improvements since the early 1800s such as having a detective department within the Metropolitan Police Force. Although the new force had improved, they were still by far not the best police force as their tactics in solving crime was still not very efficient but the police were really trying to prevent and solve crimes at any rate during the 1800s.