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Burglars and Bobbies: Crime and Policing in Victorian London

The early decades of the nineteenth century witnessed an apparent deterioration in public order and security in the London area. This continued to worsen until the middle of the century. During this period, the Metropolitan Police was established, ostensibly transforming policing in the capital. By the 1860s, crime seemed to be falling rapidly and continued to do so until the end of the century, so that it was no longer normally a subject that occasioned acute political concern.

This book examines the reality of crime levels within the Metropolis, the extent to which they differed from public perception, and the manner in which they changed over time. It considers how the police might have had an impact on public security after 1829, the use of the ‘broken windows’ paradigm for crime control in an historical context, and the extent to which the police can take credit for the post-1860 improvement in offending levels and order. However, it also discusses other factors, both economic and social, that might explain these developments.

At the same time, the book charts the general history and development of urban policing in London during the nineteenth century, the complicated and sometimes competing mixture of political and financial concerns, operational priorities, public and ‘expert’ opinion that it reflected, and the controversies that it engendered. In particular, it discusses the ‘traditional’ form of policing that was replaced in 1829, and why this occurred; the importance of foot patrol to the new force, with its strengths and weaknesses; the re-emergence of detective policing; and the legal powers and judicial support available to officers in the capital. Very importantly, this study also considers the problems thrown up by the new style of policing, its potential for abuse, and the public resistance that this sometimes encouraged.

Gregory Durston was born and lives in London. He studied history for his first degree before training for the bar. He is currently Reader in Law at Kingston University.

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Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-4438-4006-8

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-4006-4

Release Date: 19th July 2012

Pages: 305

Price: £49.99