Law and Order in Late 19th Century Essay

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Law and Order in Late 19th Century

In the 19th century the main aim of the Metropolitan police was to deter criminals from committing crime rather than actually solving it. However the police force did have to deal with many cases of drunkenness and petty theft, which were common in 19th century London. As well as dealing with the common crimes, the police also got involved in controlling public demonstrations. They often used batons to control the crowd and soon got a reputation for being heavy handed, after a baton charge at a demonstration in Bromley in 1868, resulted in a seventy-eight year old man being trampled to death.

Many people saw the police as Defenders of order. However many people
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These executions were very popular with the local people who came to watch. Public executions were stopped in 1868, but capital punishment still continued in Britain up until the 1960's. Imprisonment was also widely used. Prisons were harsh, a common punishment in prisons was 'the crank', this was a handle attached to a crank, which the prisoner had to turn a certain number of times each day. Some times a prison warden would tighten the screw in the crank just to make it harder. Many prisoners were also punished with solitary confinement. This meant that they were shut up in a room on their own all day. Some prisoners were sent out to penal colonies in Australia and New Zealand.

The first detectives were appointed in 1842, but the public was concerned that the plain clothed police officers could not be easily identified. In 1862 photos of criminals were taken in prison, then sent to Scotland Yard where they formed the 'Rogues Gallery'. The photos were taken because police believed it was possible to identify criminal 'types' from the shape of their heads.

The Criminal intelligence Department (CID) was set up in 1878 and this led to considerable improvement in detective methods especially in forensic science. John Toms was convicted of murder in 1884 because the torn paper he used for his pistol wadding

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