History of Policing
During the late 1700s and early 1800s, a breakdown in social control led to disorder, crime, riots, and public health issues in England. The 1780 Gordon riots brought a 50-year debate on how to provide better public safety. One man fighting to improve law enforcement was the home secretary, Sir Robert Peel. In 1822, Peel’s first task as home secretary was to meet the demands of Parliament for a reform of the criminal laws. During this time of rising crime statistics, Peel was convinced that legal reform should be accompanied with improved methods of crime prevention (Gash, 2012). It was not until Peel returned to the home office in 1828 with the Wellington government that he began working toward the creation of an adequate police force. In 1829, peel introduced a bill that was to improve the police in and around the Metropolis (Lyman, 1964). Fearing the introduction of a military-style force, Peel’s ideas were initially resisted. Eventually Parliament passed the bill as the Metropolitan Police Act and provided funds to establish a force of 1000 officers (Grant & Terry, 2012). The Metropolitan Police were different from any previous law enforcement. The officers were direct employees of the state and organized like the military. They were subject to clear chains of command and rules of conduct. Officers were to wear uniforms and carry badges with their identification number inscribed upon it (Grant & Terry, 2012). Peel believed it was important for the new police to win public acceptance. The moral character of the police had to be above suspicion (Lyman, 1964). Many officers were dismissed for non-appearance and drunkenness within the first few days (Metropolitan Police, 2012). Peel believed that prevention of crime could be accomplished without intruding into the lives of citizens. The principles supporting Peel’s theory on policing are as relevant today as they were in the 1800s. Faced with similar elements of social...
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