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Lecture 7

LAWS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Bow Street Runners, Royal Irish Constabulary, Clearance Rate

Course Code
LAWS 1000
Sebastien Malette

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Police and Policing
Doe v. Metropolitan Toronto (Municipality) Commissioners of Police *** Casebook
Page 101 *** Nelson
The History of Police
Old England
-Canadian police agencies originate way back to early English society.
-There was police regular police force prior to the 11th century.
-Concerned citizens of an area were the ones who handled justice (victims had to deal
with the perpetrators without assistance of the state.
-There was no court system at the time.
Pledge System
-Closest thing to police agency in its time.
-Every person was responsible for assisting neighbours and protecting the village from
Later on…
-As time progressed, the pledge system advanced.
-Groups of ten families (tithings) were set up in each village to settle minor problems.
-It was known as the frank pledge system.
Hundreds and Constables
-Ten things were grouped into an eve larger group called a Hundred.
-The affairs from a Hundred were looked after by a constable who dealt with more
serious law variations.
-The constable was appointed by the local nobles.
-The constable is considered to be the first real police officer.
-The Hundreds were amalgamated into Shires (which are equivalent to modern day
-The top law enforcement officials were known as shire-reeves.
-Shire-reeves were appointed by the Crown or a local landowner to supervise specific
areas to maintain law and order.
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13th Century
-Constable Watch System of Protection: formed by the Statute of Westminster **
-System was enacted to protect citizens of larger towns and cities.
-Watchmen were organized in church parishes.
-The Statute allowed one member of the parish to be a constable- who had the power to
appoint a watchmen.
-Duty to watch or guard local town/city.
-Patrolled predominantly at night.
-Responsible for protecting citizens, ensuring safe, detecting fires.
-They reported to the constable.
More from the Statute
-The Statute of Westminster required all males aged 15 to 60 to possess weapons and be
prepared to participate in “Hue and Cry.”
-Come to assistance of a watchman when needed.
-If duties are neglected, a watchman is allowed to criminally punish the civilian for
failing to aid him.
The System in 1326
-Shire-reeves were replaced by Justices of the Peace.
-This position was created to control an entire county.
-Justice of the Peace were assigned judicial functions.
Parish Constables
-Agents of the Justice of the Peace.
-Supervised watchmen.
-Investigated offences, served summons, executed warrants. ensured the security of
those charged with crimes before their trial.
Modern Policing and Development
Military Police
-By mid 1700s, London did not have a fully organized law enforcement system.
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-Crime was occurring regular so it became unbearable to control.
-The city officials had the military to take on enforcement roles.
-Soldiers would use their power to maintain a system of harsh control.
-They were under direct command from the city officials.
-Many criticized the system due to the way how city officials would abuse their power
for their own purposes.
-In 1748, Henry Fielding, Chief Magistrate of Bow Street, turned a group of men into
professional law enforcers.
-Their duties consisted of catching criminals and recovering stolen property.
-Known as the “Bow Street Runners” or “Thief Takers.”
-They were volunteers.
-The idea of a professional group of law enforcement agents developed the concept of
the modern day police force.
The Industrial Revolution and Policing
-Urban Population increased.
-Crime, poverty, and disorder increased.
-British Parliament contemplated how to deal with the dangerous class.
-Sir Robert Peel, Home Secretary, proposed a formal plan.
-In 1829, the London Metropolitan Act was passed.
-This created a 3, 200 member police force to replace the current law enforcement.
The New System
-The police were called “bobbies” after their creator.
-They were known for their recognizable uniforms, consisting of blue coats and top hats.
-They had a military structure, with ranks.
-Two magistrates (later titled as commissioners) had to oversee the police force.
Peel’s Philosophies
Peel legislated four main philosophies of his police force:
-Reduce tension and conflict between law enforcement officers and the public.
-Use of non-violent means in keeping the peace, with violence to be used as a last resort.
-Relieve the military from certain duties, such as controlling crime.
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