Law and Order in the late 18th century

Law and order in the 19th century was a very primitive version of security. In 1798 the London City Police was established and in 1829 the Metropolitan Police was set-up with an extremely basic team of people to inhabit these new jobs.

By basic, I mean the police had very few qualifications; most of the time you could get in to the force by being able to read and write. This was because many officers had simple jobs. An average day of a police officer would have been deterring crime, patrolling the streets for at least 14 hours of a day, lighting the street lamps and calling time out (curfew) in the city. Although officers were told to patrol the streets for at least 14 hours of a day, it was still extremely hard to prevent crimes due to the old winding streets in the big city. One place that was extremely difficult to police was the slum of the east end, Whitechapel.

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The police and public did not have one of the greatest relationships with each other: they were seen as helping the rich and ignoring any crimes from poorer parts of the city. Often because of this motive, the police were attacked by mobs of the poorer classes and severely injured with broken bones and often wounds from a knife or weapon.

Although at this time, it was thought that more murders were committed than usual, it is actually not a true statement and the same crimes continued. Petty thieving, begging, vagrants, street brawls were some of the petty crimes committed but the more often ones were mugging and prostitution. These petty crimes did start to increase but as the police force grew stronger the amount of those petty crimes decreased very rapidly.

Criminals often got away with these crimes because of the lack of resources to catch them. Footprints and the shape of the head were the best Forensic science used at this point in time. Due to the lack of solved crimes, the Detective department was introduced in 1842. Still it was not enough and so came the C.I.D (Criminal investigations department) to try and help more in 1878.

The order part of criminal activities is the most unlike the modern form today. Solicitors were rarely used in court cases because they were far too expensive. The cases that were normally heard in the Old Bailey last a matter of minutes. During this time the jury would never leave the court. The punishments in the early 19th century was often public execution, however, when public execution ended in 1868 so did the amount of offences punishable by death.

The police of the late eighteenth century were generally unprepared for the arrival of such a strong character as Jack the Ripper. If the police had been formed earlier it is possible that advances would have been made to catch the killer but from this clear description, the police were obviously not organised enough.

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