France is believed to have established the first police force, and she was followed by England in 1828, after the celebrated Peel
Act was passed.
Police, a body organized for the maintenance of the public peace and security, and the protection of public health and morals.
In the present article the word police is used in the modern sense of constabulary or policemen. A thoroughly good system of
police was not possible until society had so far advanced that public opinion was consistently on the side of law and order, and opposed to violence and crime. Before the formation of the Metropolitan Police there existed in England no organized body
charged with the maintenance of order and the suppression of crime. In some of the larger towns paid paid watchmen, generally very inefficient, were appointed; and outside these towns there was nothing but the petty constable appointed for each parish or township by the jury at the court leet, or, where no such court was held, by two justices. These parish constables generally appointed deputies to act for them, were in many cases characters of the worst description, who lived by extortion and the countenancing of every species of vice. In 1842, thirteen years after the establishment of the Metropolitan Police, an attempt
was made to reform the parish constables, and provide for their appointment on a sounder bases: but the new type of organized force had in the meantime proved its efficiency, and similar forces were organized in the boroughs under the Municipal Corpora-
tion Act, 1835, and afterwards in the counties. In 1872 an act was passed which provided that for the future no parish constables should be appointed unless the justices in quarter sessions should think this necessary.
In England the Metropolitan Police Force has its headquarters at New Scotland Yard, near the houses of Parliament. Here also
is the Criminal Investigation Department which has officers attached to the various local stations. The Metropolitan Police are
under the direct control of the Home Office, and supervise the area which includes the whole of Middlesex and London, and
portions of Kent, Essex and Surrey, within a radius of fifteen miles from Charing Cross. The force totals (1947) 24,364. The City
of London police are controlled by the Common Council of the City. In the local police there are about sixty-two county forces
and about one hundered and thirty borough forces. The total strength of the English force was 66,935 (1947). The strength of
the Scottish force was 6,643 in 1947.
Policing in London
How Suspects were Apprehended
The period from 1674 to 1913 witnessed the transformation of policing in London from a system that relied on private individuals
and part-time officials, through the development of salaried officials and semi-official "thief-takers", to a modern professional
police system. In the process the mechanisms by which the people tried at the Old Bailey were identified and apprehended was radically transformed, and ultimately brought under the control of the state. Read this very interesting article here
Article includes; The Role of Private Individuals Before the Police, Constables and the Night Watch, Thief-Takers, The Bow
Street Runners, The Metropolitan Police, 1829, The Impact of the Police.
(Image1) 19th Century depiction of the Bow Street Magistrates' Court, to which the Bow Street Runners were attached.
The Bow Street Runners have been called London's first profes-sional police force. The force was founded in 1749 by the
author Henry Fielding (Image2) and originally numbered just six. Bow Street runners was the public's nickname for these
officers, "although the officers never referred to themselves as runners, considering the term to be derogatory".The Bow
Street group was disbanded in 1839.
More about the Bow Street Runners and the City of Glasgow Police
18th century London was dogged by crime, the Bow Street Runners were established in 1750 as a professional police force. Penalties for crime were harsh, with the death penalty being applied for fairly minor crimes. Public hangings were common
in London, and were popular public events.
The Bow Street Runners have been called London's first professional police force. The force was founded in 1749 by the
author Henry Fielding and originally numbered just six. Bow Street runners was the public's nickname for these officers,
"although the officers never referred to themselves as runners, considering the term to be derogatory". The Bow Street
group was disbanded in 1839.
The City of Glasgow Police was the police of the City of Glasgow, Scotland. In the 17th century, Scottish cities used to hire watchmen to guard the streets at night, augmenting a force of unpaid citizen constables. On June 30, 1800, the authorities of Glasgow, successfully petitioned the British Government to pass the Glasgow Police Act establishing the City of Glasgow
Police. It served Glasgow from 1800 to 1975, when it was amalgamated into Strathclyde Police. It is sometimes described as
the first modern-style municipal police force, although due to the original Glasgow force's small size and varied duties (as well
as policing they also fought fires, called the hours and swept the streets, thus in many ways more closely resembling the older
city watchmen this title has previously been claimed by the London Metropolitan Police. However, following formal enforce-
ment action by the Advertising Standards Authority, the Metropolitan Police gave a written undertaking never to repeat this
United States 1841 - 1905
In the United States, the first police force was established in New York City in 1841, composed of two constables in each of
the seventeen wards, 300 night watchmen, one hunderd marshals, on hunderd wardens and miscellaneous other officials. The various states gradually separated their judicial from their police magistracy, until, at the close of the nine teenth century, the institution in America was a firsly established fact. In New York City, the department is suprvised by a commissioner, who has
five deputies and numerous bureaus. In contrast of London, New York's detective force is contained within the ranks of the
In the United States another form of police power, known as the state police, or sometimes as the constabulary, has been inaugurated. The members of this department are appointed by the governor and his council, and are as a general thing former members of the United States army, navy, or militia. Their duty in the main is to pursue criminals from one state to another and
to guard certain country roads made dangerous to public safety since the introduction of the automobile. In some localities they
act as fish and game wardens and as fire marshals. Many states restrict their authority. Usually they are not pemitted to sup-
press riots without orders from the governor. Pennylvania started the first state police organization in the United States in 1905, other states following its example.
December 5, 1885. New York City. "Doing the slums" - A scene in the Five Points. Policeman leading upper class people
through the Five Points neighbourhood.
Rick London in one of his articles writes:
Early America's roots in governmental institutions, ironically stem from Great Britain. This encluded law enforcement. England's law enforcement can be traced to before 1066; the year of the Normandy invasion of Britain.
When many early Europeans first arrived to our shores, they were surprised at the lack of organized law enforcement. It was
more or less, "the stronger were policed themselves and their communities".
After "things" got fairly well settled the job of maintaining order in the new colonies was given to Justices of the Peace, and one might see "culprits" in pillories or stocks, paying their debt to society. But, as colonies changed into towns and towns into cities, the Justice of the Peace system was not enough. It became time for an organized, and for salaried policemen (there were no policewomen at the time).
In the early 1600's, Boston launched Night Watch, which idea worked reasonably well as long as the area remained a rural and agrarian one. New York City established the Shout and Rattle Watch in 1651, but, by 1705 Philadelphia found it necessary to
divide the city into ten patrol areas. This was really the first stab in America at "organized law enforcement" (for what it was worth).
Sometime between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the more than rapid growth of population and industrialization in America mandated the development of municipal police departments. In 1833, Philadelphia organized an independent, 24/7 police squad. . In 1844, NYC maintained two police forces; one unit working day, and one graveyard shift. During this period, police departments were headed by police chiefs, appointed and accountable to political bosses eerily similar to what was seen in the black and
white police movies of the 1940's and 1950's. Corruption ran rampant.
Some of the law enforcement we inherited from England was "The Sheriff System". (Remember the infamous Sheriff of Notting-
ham from Robin Hood?) As America moved west, in most frontier towns the sheriff was the chief law enforcement official. He
could be recruited from the local community, or more often a Sheriff was selected by his reputation, and the more dismal the
rep, the more likely he was to be elected. The Sheriff System exists in America today, but, on a more formal and politicized
21st Century law enforcement agencies and departments are highly specialized organizations, with ongoing training to prepare
to meet a great variety of problems and situations. We have federal, state, county, and municipal police. We no longer live in our parent's world. There are dangers we face daily they couldn't have imagined. There is a fine line between real life and the Internet. We remain dependent on peace officers from every organization for our" life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and to enforce
the vision of our founding fathers when they penned that brilliant document, the U.S. Constitution.
Rick London is a freelance writer, cartoonist and E-entrepreneur.