Law and Order in London in Late Nineteenth CenturyThe British police force came to being in the late eighteenth century.By 1800 there were only 2 police forces in the whole of Britain, bothof which were in London. One was the Bow street runners, which was setup in 1749 and the other, was the Thames River police force, which bythen was only 2 years old. The main turning point for policing as faras London is concerned came in 1829 when ‘Sir Robert Peel’, the homesecretary of the time, created and set up a new police force, themetropolitanPolice force.
The metropolitan police force was set up to carry out all the jobsthat the watchmen and special constables did before them. Their jobswere to patrol the streets to keep them in order and to try to preventcrimes. They were sometimes also used to tackle major crimes such asriots. On some occasions the met would liase with the army and usethem to help them to tackle the more major things such as riots. Thiswould often prove to be unpopular with the public, as the army wouldhave been used before the creation of the met to break up popularriots and demonstrations. Obviously because they were popular riotsand demonstrations the public wouldn’t be in the metropolitanpolices favour for using them.
To begin with their jobs were not only the sort of jobs that we wouldassociate with the police of today. They also had to do many otherordinary, menial tasks such as lighting the night lamps, calling outthe time and watching for fires, amongst many other public servicesthey had to carry out, which they had taken over from thewatchmen before them.
The police for…
…the policeman would have towalk about the streets looking for the crimes to be committed to thenewly introduced detective work such as line-ups and photos of thecrime scenes because the forensics had not reallydeveloped that much yet to be of any help.
But a breakthrough happened in the last few years of the nineteenthcentury when a man was convicted for a murder because the torn paperused for his pistol wabbing was the same paper that was recovered formthe victims wound. Moreover in 1892 the ‘Alphonse’ method wasintroduced by which the police would measure the suspects parts of thebody on the assumption that no two humans would be the same. Thebiggest breakthrough though came in the early twentieth whenfingerprinting was introduced. This making detective work much moresimpler and easier to carry out.