Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The metropolitan police 1850-1914 : targeting, harassment and the creation of a criminal class
Author: Stanford, Terence George
Awarding Body: University of Huddersfield
Current Institution: University of Huddersfield
Date of Award: 2007
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Within Victorian society there was a public perception that within the wider field of class there were a number of levels at the bottom of which was a criminal class. This, a very diverse group growing out of the working class, was considered to be responsible for the vast majority of offences ranging from begging to murder. Following the ending of transportation in the 1850’s the Metropolitan Police were faced with a number of new problems and responsibilities. These left them open to allegations that they were so targeting sections of the community that they were creating this criminal class from within the casual poor and those already known to police. As the period progressed the police were given wider powers to deal with the changed situation as well as extra responsibility for the compilation of criminal records and the supervision of released convicts. As a result of these changes allegations were made that the police so harassed those on tickets of leave and under supervision that it impossible for many to obtain employment. In order for this to have the case it would have been necessary for the police to be able to identify those with previous criminal convictions and to target their resources against them. The way in which resources were to be used had been established in 1829 with the objective of preventing crime, by way of uniformed officers patrolling beats and concentrating on night duty. Police resources were not efficiently used and failed to adapt to changing circumstances. In particular, whilst the available evidence especially for the early years is not complete it will be argued that, despite the allocation of considerable resources, the police were very poor at a very important part of their role, that of the identification of criminals. The concept of a criminal class has been examined in two ways. There was a ‘subjective’ public perception of the situation which included all those committing offences but it is argued that in reality what happened was that there were a series of legislative changes focussing on a gradually reducing group of habitual offenders which can properly be called a criminal class. This small group was responsible for the majority of serious crime during the period. As a result the police came to be targeting a very narrowly defined group and they as the agents, the public face of the changes, were the ones against whom complaints were most commonly made. This research shows that the Metropolitan Police were very poor at some important aspects of their role and that they were given additional responsibilities without always having the proper backing of the legislative framework. It also shows that the police were very aware of the difficulties they faced in dealing with released convicts and took great pains not only to allay public fears but also made contributions to the well being of many of those released from prison.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HT Communities. Classes. Races ; H Social Sciences (General)