Britain's oldest police? : a political and social history of policing in Glasgow, 1779-1846
This study examines the development of policing in Glasgow from 1779 to 1846. It argues that while police reform in the city fits more closely with the revisionist view of police history than the traditionalist, neither, in terms of how they are presented in relation to England, do justice to the distinct and complex manner in which the police institution in Glasgow, or Scotland for that matter, evolved. The absence of obligatory legislative enactments and clear dividing lines between the old and the new police in Scotland, combined with the peculiar nature of the 'police' concept, resulted in a different course of development which neither model accommodates precisely. Police development in Glasgow, the study contends, was characterised by one dominant factor - namely, the middle class seeking to control and manage more effectively their city in the face of rapid urbanisation. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this took the form of establishing a new range of public amenity provisions that were essential to health and safety. However, while this commitment to the wider aspect of policing was never entirely superseded, the control and management of people rather than the environment became of increasing importance to police commissioners as the first half of the nineteenth century progressed. Although no one incident underlay this reorientation, the traumatic events of the post-Napoleonic period proved particularly significant, as the propertied classes sought a more effective form of law enforcement to protect them from political insurrection, industrial unrest and the expanding urban masses. The study will show that police affairs were embroiled in an ongoing struggle between different social and economic groups for control of local affairs. Throughout the period in question, issues of class, status and power were at the forefront of police management, as the local ruling elite sought to withstand the challenge to their political hegemony from, initially, the upper middle class and, latterly, the lower middle/self-employed working class.