Describe law and order in London in the late nineteenth century

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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.

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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 ...

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