The Making of the Modern Police | Police | Libraries



The Making of the Modern Police, 1780–1914
General Editor: Paul Lawrence Volume Editors: Janet Clark, Rosalind Crone, Francis Dodsworth, Robert M Morris and Haia Shpayer-Makov
Part I: 3 volume set: c.1200pp: February 2014 978 1 84893 371 2: 234x156mm: £275/$495 Part II: 3 volume set: c.1200pp: October 2014 978 1 84893 372 9: 234x156mm: £275/$495

The modern professional police force is probably one of Britain’s most significant exports. In little over a century, Britain went from having a largely amateur and local law enforcement system to the type of police force we still recognize today. The first modern police force of its kind, it has become the model which has been copies and adapted across the world. This is not a story of unbroken progress. Newer methods of policing challenged English ideas of liberty and were greeted with distrust. Over time changing social conditions, particularly with the rise of large industrial cities, led to a growing acceptance of the need for new systems of law and order. Eventually the modern police force came in to being as part of a broader process of the centralization and professionalization of government during the nineteenth century. Over six themed volumes this edited collection of pamphlets, government publications, printed ephemera and manuscript sources looks at the development of the first modern police force. It will be of interest to social and political historians, criminologists and those interested in the development of the detective novel in nineteenthcentury literature.

‘Le policeman à Londres’ from L’Illustration, 2 March 1867 © Mary Evans Picture Library

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Contains over 250 primary resources More than a third of the texts are previously unpublished Sources include correspondence, pamphlets, parliamentary records, police memoranda and notebooks, speeches, flybills and memoirs Texts come from seventeen archives, including the Metropolitan Police Archive and regional county record offices Editorial apparatus includes a general introduction, volume introductions, headnotes and endnotes A consolidated index appears in the final volume



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Volume 1: The ‘Idea’ of Policing
Following the Gordon Riots of 1780 Parliament tried to introduce a ‘police bill’, when their existing resources were found to be severely wanting. Fears over the kind of absolutism seen in France helped fuel debate over what form British policing should take. Sources in this volume follow the debates that took place after the emergence of the Bow Street Runners under John and Henry Fielding, and also include documents relating to the controversial work of Patrick Colquhoun, founder of the Thames River Police.

Volume 2: Reforming the Police in the Nineteenth Century
The nineteenth century saw a five-fold increase in the population of Britain and a concurrent movement of people from rural to urban living. The old system of local justice needed to be replaced by a more centralized government police force. This required political agreement and money. Progress was not smooth and today’s forty-three police forces can be seen as a legacy of the localism that existed at this time.

Volume 3: Policing the Poor
Controlling the poor was one of the key roles of the new police force. In the nineteenth century the poorer classes were often assumed to be the natural and deserving object of police attention. The link between crime, poverty and homelessness was a major concern for the ruling elite. Previous academic debate has centred on the ruling elite’s use of the police to keep the emergent labouring classes in check. However, the documents in this volume show that the relationship between the police and the poor was more complex, including functions that we would now class as ‘welfare’.

Archive sources
Berkshire County Record Office Bodleian Library British Library – including the Booth Collection and Manuscripts British Newspaper Library Cambridgeshire Police Archive Cambridge University Library Greater Manchester County Record Office Lancashire Archives Lewes Area Library Lincolnshire Archives – Horncastle Police Records London Metropolitan Archive Marx Memorial Library – N J Klugmann Collection Metropolitan Police Archive National Archives – including the Lord Chamberlain’s Papers Open University Archive Staffordshire County Record Office Women’s Library

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Volume 5: Policing Public Order and Politics
Prior to the nineteenth century, matters of public order had been largely the responsibility of the militia. Despite the riots of 1780 and the civic unrest that preceeded its formation, the police force was not conceived as a crowd control mechanism. The police came to hold primary responsibility for political surveillance and the keeping of public order. Key instances of disorder are covered in this volume, including the disturbances at Queen Caroline’s funeral, the Chartist protests of the 1840s, the policing of the Great Exhibition, the London riots of the 1880s and the charges of brutality levelled at the policing of the Suffragettes.

Volume 6: The Development of Detective Policing
‘Wrong in the Mayne. The complete success with which Sir Richard closed the park against all the people – who didn’t force their way in’, Fun, Vol. X old series, Vol. III new series, 4 August, 1866 © The British Library Board (P.P.5273.c)

Volume 4: Policing Entertainment
With changing urban environments and population growth, traditional leisure activities came increasingly under police scrutiny. But the police were not always hostile to forms of popular leisure. As the century wore on policing was used as much to protect these pastimes as to regulate them. This volume deals with four specific aspects of popular entertainment: outdoor amusements (including travelling showmen and fairs), sport (from informal games and bloodsports through to football matches and gambling), public houses and the theatre.

The Metropolitan Police was founded in 1829. It was not until 1842 that a detective department was established at Scotland Yard as a reaction to public dissatisfaction with crime levels. Starting from humble origins with a staff of just eight men, detectives came to be a pivotal part of the criminal justice system. As detective numbers increased, so too did their profile. This attention was sometimes unwanted, particularly when mass corruption was uncovered in the late 1870s and again when the police failed to catch Jack the Ripper. However, despite these setbacks detective policing became popular with newspapers and the public at large.

Paul Lawrence is at the Open University Janet Clark works for the Independent Police Complaints Commission Rosalind Crone, Francis Dodsworth and Robert M Morris are at the Open University Haia Shpayer-Makov is at the University of Haifa

Full contents can be found at

Related titles The Urban Working Class in Britain, 1830–1914
Editor: Andrew August
In 1830, with the Industrial Revolution in full-swing, working-class life in Britain’s cities was in a state of flux. In all the major urban areas across Britain working-class men, women and children experienced both radical and conservative influences affecting every aspect of their lives. This collection of primary source material is the most comprehensive of its kind and includes a multitude of sources that allows the user to chart the squalor, the noise, the conflict, the aspiration and the diversity of the working-class experience up to the outbreak of the First World War. 4 volume set: 1856pp: April 2013 978 1 84893 203 6: 234x156mm: £350/$625

The Metropolitan Poor: Semifactual Accounts, 1795–1910
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Includes the writings of urban travellers and more widely known social reformers. The collection begins with writings when the poor were first discovered as endemic, before reproducing extracts from Mayhew’s influential survey and the journalism it inspired. Representative writings of the stridently sensational James Greenwood and the distinctly modern perspectives of Jack London and Charles Masterman are included, and the contribution of prominent evangelicals is covered comprehensively. ‘provides a formidable resource for students and teachers of nineteenth-century crime, policing, poverty and social policy.’ Urban History 6 volume set: 2536pp: 1999 978 1 85196 524 3: 234x156mm: £495/$875

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