The origin of modern law enforcement dates back to 180 years when London Metropolitan Police District was formed in 1829. Before the nineteenth century, the policing system was based on the severe penalties and along with that very weak and capricious enforcement machinery. The criminal system was itself inhuman as well as counter productive. Crime rates increased manifold forcing victims to deter themselves in any prosecution and juries too were seen as most unwilling participants in imparting justice.
It was rightly said “That certainty of punishment was a more effective deterrent than severity was a most fundamental axiom of the late eighteenth century classical criminology of Beccaria and others. ” Increase in the population, urbanization and social disorders as consequences of the industrial revolution aroused the need for police reforms. Sprawling cities increased chaos and disorder and became breeding grounds for the anti social elements as well as others. Added to it, the strength of constables was mere 450 for the immense London population of 1.
5 million. Charge of the law and order was in the hands of the Justice of the Peace (J. P), who was appointed by the King. As the need for the improvement in the law and order was increased, Bow Street Runners were appointed in London and the police force was set up around Thames River in 1789. However army was often called in whenever the problem got severe. Subsequently Colquhoun and Bentham ideologies provoked the administration for the constant reforms in the police force.
However, the first ever major reform in the police was the result of the efforts of Robert Peel who formulated the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 challenging the conventional order of the day. The strength of the police force was increased to 3,200 men spreading into the area of 7 miles starting from the central part of London. They were designated as ‘bobbies’ or ‘peelers’. Their uniform was dark blue long coat and a tall hat and in the name of armaments, they only had truncheons.
They were supposed to be like army but paradoxically were open to the constant attacks from the nefarious elements in the London. The command of the police force was taken by two magistrates who were later called as commissioners. The first two of commissioners were Richard Mayne, a lawyer and Colonel Charles Rowan, a military officer. Rowan, Mayne and Peel all believed to build a strong relationship of respect and trust between the people and police to give new structure a success.
To take their mission further, early Bobbies that showed the highest integrity were chosen among the youngsters of the nineteenth century. Home secretary who was directly elected by the people was designed to be in-charge of the control of the London police force making it directly responsible to the people. The system was guided by the Peel’s Nine Principles as explained by the New Westminster Police Service pertaining to the strength, role and responsibilities of the police. Their strength was around 1000 and they were fully employed with the weekly payment of 16/- along with a uniform.
Commissioners were responsible for the selection and training of the new recruits. They got the funds from a Parish Rate and were only responsible for the detection and control of the crime. Patrols were given the duties to control the crime or any disorder and no stipends were given to them in case they succeeded in curbing the crime. Subsequently not just the crime prevention, new police also performed other tasks like lighting of the lamplights, keeping watch on any eventualities if they occurred because of any fire, and delivering other public services etc.
Records state that Bobbies or Peelers were not so popular and constables were seen as infringement by citizens on their social and political rights. Overall, the Metropolitan police had gained considerable success and crime and disorder was subsequently reduced. They also succeeded in controlling the street riots as happened in Birmingham and London. Inspite of the initial successes, the way police force expanded towards the rural areas was very slow but it was only in 1856, the Parliament made it compulsory for all the provinces to set up an organized police force.