The ‘New’ Police Model of 1829 Essay

The ‘New’ Police Model of 1829

Introduction:

During the beginning of the 19th century, law enforcement and order in Wales and England was still similar to what was there during the Middle Ages. The individuals who were charged with the maintenance of law and order were the Justices of the Peace who were appointed by the monarch. However, with the increasing British population, there was an increase in the number of crimes being committed. This indicated that something needed to be done for the improvement of law and order. The ‘Bow Street Runners’ were appointed in London and the Thames River police were put in place at the dawn of the 19th century. This did not provide a comprehensive solution though since the army was called in whenever there was a major problem[1]. The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 brought with it a centralized and a unified police system in the British territory whereby this caused a revolution in the conventional law enforcement methods.

This paper shall seek to analyze the introduction and form of the new police model and review how relevant the model has remained to the contemporary society.

The Origin of Policing in Britain:

The British police is said to have originated from the early tribal history that is based on the customs regarding the maintenance of order which was implemented by the representatives who were appointed by the monarchy, thus the people were the police. The term police can generally be defined as societal arrangements that ensure that individuals maintain peace and adhere to the established law. It may also refer to the individuals who have been given the mandate to ensure that the people are maintaining peace and order while obeying the law. It is believed that the Saxons are the ones who brought the concept of policing to the British. The concept in its initial stages required that the individuals be divided into small groups of about ten which were referred to as ‘tythings’. Each of the group was led by a ‘tything-man’ and the groups were also brought together into tens to form the shire-reeve which was led by ‘a hundred-man’. The shire-reeve is what became to be known as Sheriff of the County[2].

The tything –man system was changed but its traces could still be observed after the contact with Norman feudalism. The tything-man was later known as the parish constable and the shire-reeve became the Justice of the Peace whom the parish constables reported to. This system was widespread during the 17th and 18th centuries where there was the election or appointment of a single able-bodied individual to serve for a one year period as the parish constable. The parish constable was to work in cooperation with the local Justices to secure the observation of law and maintenance of order. During this period, the responsibility to maintain law and order in towns was also shared by the guilds. Later, other special groups were also involved in maintaining law and order such as ‘the watch’ who were employed to guard the gates and patrol the streets during the night[3].

During the early periods of the 19th century, there were numerous social and economic changes and most individuals moved to the towns. The parish constable and the watch system were overwhelmed as depicted in the rising number of crime incidences. By the year 1829, London population is said to have reached one and a half million and yet there were a paltry 450 constables with about 4000 watchmen. London used to depend on the army or the local militia, spies and informers to ensure that there was peace and order whenever there was compelling disturbances. The need for comprehensive reforms in the law enforcement agent was compelled by the Peterloo Massacre and the Chartist uprising that rocked London. The tactics which were employed in the prevention and management of crime proved to be insufficient and often resulted in more troubles. In addition to this, there were increasing incidences of homicides, robbery, theft, and burglary due to the industrial revolution that was taking place at the time[4].

Factors that led to the ‘new’ police of 1829:

Factors that led to the introduction and passage of the 1829 Metropolitan Police Act can be found in the English concept of liberty that was embodied in the conventional theory of community accountability in keeping the King’s peace. The English justice and administration were the responsibility and privileges of Crown-appointed, though unpaid, Justices of the Peace conventionally chosen from the gentry[5]. The duties of the Justices of the Peace included maintenance of law and order and offering direction to the local Parish constables. It has also to be noted that the Englishmen of all classes looked at the Continental monarchy as being based on a police tyranny. As a result, any measure that favored the enhancement of the power of the central government was suspect. The parish-constable system had become outdated in the new and rapidly industrializing urban society. The traditional police had become inefficient as it was overwhelmed by the increasing population in the urban areas[6].

During the 18th century, there was a rapid increase in the population and urbanization. Trade was revived and there were many progress made in various sectors including medicine, agriculture, and generally the industrial revolution. The British parliament dwelt much on maintaining the Protestant Succession and both the people and the parliament got apprehensive with the Jacobite threats and foreign warfare. There was little concern in regard to the law enforcement in London. The constables in London and watchmen became insufficient and inefficient altogether as public safety and securing property became a makeshift phenomenon. By the mid of the 18th century, there was growing anxiety due to the inability of the police to handle the increasing incidences of lawlessness and crime[7].

The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829:

The first major reform of law in regard to the law enforcement during the 19th century was spear-headed by Robert Peel who served as the Home secretary during his time. He introduced and ensured the passage of the Metropolitan Police Act following the report that was compiled by a select committee to look into the state of the police in then year 1828. The committee recommended that there be an overhaul of the police and extension of the same to cover the whole of London. Specifically, the committee came up with various recommendations including the observation that a central police unit be created under two magistrates and the need for the amalgamation of the regular police forces in London except those in the City. Robert Peel was able to come up with the Metropolitan Police Act from the recommendations which were passed to become law in 1829[8].

Under the Metropolitan Police Act, a metropolitan police force of 3,200 men was instituted to cover a region that extended seven miles from London. There were also seventeen divisions with each of the divisions comprising of four inspectors and one hundred and forty-four constables[9]. The police force was uniformed in a dark blue long-coat and a tall hat. They were however not armed with the exceptions of the truncheons in a bid to differentiate them from the armed forces. This made the police an easy target for the criminals in London. At first, the new police faced obstruction from some parochial authorities and the hostile London mobs but their approval ratings went higher as the level of crime in London subsided. The decreasing level of criminal incidences in London can be attributed to the exodus of criminal gangs to other places where they could carry out their under-hand activities with relative ease[10].

Conclusion:

The new police model that was introduced in 1829 was a revolutionary aspect that overhauled the police force of the time. This was to have far reaching impacts in the manner the police force was effected. The impacts of the Metropolitan Police Act formed the basis upon which the modern police are based. In this regard, the Act saw the establishment of a centralized police system with two commissioners, an aspect which is in use in present day though not in the exact manner. The concept of uniforms was also introduced and from that time, police in all parts of the world are uniformed. The police force that was established by the Act served more like what the modern urban police units do in the current times. There is no doubt that the police model that was introduced in 1829 therefore left a blue print to the modern policing system.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Boughey, M. The Growth of the Police Force. 2010. Retrieved on 11th August 2010 from;

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:vkytkV8ATXAJ:homepage.mac.com/hakan_danielsson/policeforce.pdf+The+%27new%27+police+model+introduced+in+1829&hl=en&gl=ke&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgZcl_JLko4jHAJRvzuCWisXSoP4wMfsONkjS3gugcXFhIAETaACDtNyC3kbbJ07Qap557EYdKU1EDu_G9LACYSsBUEQIfEcXLK4XLSN6RzTCjv9lKaarTs5eEX-f6KmuPGvusI&sig=AHIEtbSh36Sk-VkbT-JQ4vKlO8-ZsPLWog

Critchley, T A, A History of the Police in England and Wales 900 – 1966; 1968, London; Constable Publishers

Gash, N. The age of Peel. 1968. London; Edward Arnold

Lyman, J L. The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829: An Analysis of Certain Events Influencing the Passage and Character of the Metropolice Act in England. The Journal of Criminal Law, criminology, and Police science, Vol. 12, Issue 13, 1964 pp 141-145

Metropolitan police.uk. History of Metropolitan Police. 2010. Retrieved on 11th August 2010 from; http://www.met.police.uk/history/definition.htm.

[1] M Boughey. The Growth of the Police Force. 2010. Retrieved on 11th August 2010 from;

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:vkytkV8ATXAJ:homepage.mac.com/hakan_danielsson/policeforce.pdf+The+%27new%27+police+model+introduced+in+1829&hl=en&gl=ke&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgZcl_JLko4jHAJRvzuCWisXSoP4wMfsONkjS3gugcXFhIAETaACDtNyC3kbbJ07Qap557EYdKU1EDu_G9LACYSsBUEQIfEcXLK4XLSN6RzTCjv9lKaarTs5eEX-f6KmuPGvusI&sig=AHIEtbSh36Sk-VkbT-JQ4vKlO8-ZsPLWog para 1
[2] T A Critchley, A History of the Police in England and Wales 900 – 1966; 1968, London; Constable Publishers, p 13
[3] Metropolitan police.uk. History of Metropolitan Police. 2010. Retrieved on 11th August 2010 from; http://www.met.police.uk/history/definition.htm. para 6
[4] M Boughey. The Growth of the Police Force. 2010. Retrieved on 11th August 2010 from;

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:vkytkV8ATXAJ:homepage.mac.com/hakan_danielsson/policeforce.pdf+The+%27new%27+police+model+introduced+in+1829&hl=en&gl=ke&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgZcl_JLko4jHAJRvzuCWisXSoP4wMfsONkjS3gugcXFhIAETaACDtNyC3kbbJ07Qap557EYdKU1EDu_G9LACYSsBUEQIfEcXLK4XLSN6RzTCjv9lKaarTs5eEX-f6KmuPGvusI&sig=AHIEtbSh36Sk-VkbT-JQ4vKlO8-ZsPLWog para 2
[5] T A Critchley, A History of the Police in England and Wales 900 – 1966; 1968, London; Constable Publishers, p 89
[6] J L Lyman. The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829: An Analysis of Certain Events Influencing the Passage and Character of the Metropolice Act in England. The Journal of Criminal Law, criminology, and Police science, Vol. 12, Issue 13, 1964 p 141
[7] J L Lyman. The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829: An Analysis of Certain Events Influencing the Passage and Character of the Metropolice Act in England. The Journal of Criminal Law, criminology, and Police science, Vol. 12, Issue 13, 1964 pp 141
[8] N Gash. The age of Peel. 1968. London; Edward Arnold p 16
[9] M Boughey. The Growth of the Police Force. 2010. Retrieved on 11th August 2010 from;

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:vkytkV8ATXAJ:homepage.mac.com/hakan_danielsson/policeforce.pdf+The+%27new%27+police+model+introduced+in+1829&hl=en&gl=ke&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgZcl_JLko4jHAJRvzuCWisXSoP4wMfsONkjS3gugcXFhIAETaACDtNyC3kbbJ07Qap557EYdKU1EDu_G9LACYSsBUEQIfEcXLK4XLSN6RzTCjv9lKaarTs5eEX-f6KmuPGvusI&sig=AHIEtbSh36Sk-VkbT-JQ4vKlO8-ZsPLWog para 4
[10] N Gash. The age of Peel. 1968. London; Edward Arnold, p 142