Page images

whose changes of abođe, employment, and condition, are incessant, offenders against the laws find opportunities of disguise and concealment which they do not possess in a simple and fixed state of society. A more vigorous Police then becomes necessary. In this, however, great care must be observed that while hunting down the bad the good be not injured, nor more expense to the public incurred than is necessary. By some the French police is thought to be excellent, as it certainly is very effective; but the inroads on private confidence and security made by the espionage system, and the impediments to social and commercial intercourse, cansed by the passport system, compose too high a price for the advantages gained. In the other arrangements of the French police, however, there is much to applaud. The exact distribution of the police force, the regularity of the patrole, the vigilance with which proportionate detachments of the police show themselves wherever there is a large assembly of people, the civility with which the gens d'armes inforce good order, and the alacrity with which offenders are sought out by the police, free of

expense to sufferers, are points well deserving of attention and imitation. With us the manner in which hordes of thieves are suffered to prowl about the metropolis and its neighbourhood, and rob and mal-treat passengers when a crowd is assembled, is a disgrace to our police system. Yet while these things are going on, officers in abundance are loitering about the police offices, in waiting for hire. Protection is reserved for individuals who will individually pay for it. For instance: the author deemed it necessary to have the attendance of a police officer at a meeting of a charitable nature. He applied to a sub-officer at Bow Street, and offered him a guinea to attend. He was told that it was contrary to etiquette for the sub to accept the job; one of the heads must be applied to. This was done : his charge was two guineas; but as he had become too rich a man to act manually, he like his superiors must have a deputy or assistant, and one guinea was to be paid to him: so that three guineas was the sum paid to the police officer for about three hours morning attendance, to scare off the pickpockets.

It is now proposed to remedy the defects of our police system by adding to the extent and emoluments of the establishments. Beaucoup d'argent is to cure every thing: but it is submitted, that unless the principles of our police be mended, neither the extension of the number and pay of

police-men, nor the endowing them with inqaisitorial powers, will add to the public security,

One of the objects of this essay is brevity. A lengthened disquisition upon police, therefore, will not be held ; but the following propositions are submitted without further preface:

There ought to be a corps of police-men for the metropolis and its vicinity divisible into sections of eight men each, every section to be under the superintendence of an inspector.

The town and its suburbs ought to be divided into as many police divisions, with defined limits, as there are police offices.

The sections should be distributed in the different divi. sions, in proportion to the wants of each; leaving always a considerable reserve at the central or head office, to assist any division that may stand in need of it upon an emergency, and to yield detachments for fairs, fights, races, and other popular meetings at a distance. The police-men to be occasionally changed in their divisions.

There should be a day patrole, from 9 in the morning till 9 in the evening.

One half of the police-men in each division should be on patrole at a time in pairs, every two men having their assigned walk; the other half should remain at or near the police office, to be forthcoming for any special service. If an occasion should be anticipated in any division for a force beyond its own party, the officer thereof should send to the head office for aid. When any general excitement in the metropolis should call for a greater force than the regular police affords, extra men should be employed for the occasion. ! The inspector of each section should make it his business to inform himself of the haunts of all the bad and suspicious characters in his division, and, as far as he is able, ascertain their connexions in guilt, and particularly of all receivers. Upon the expectation of a crowd or other occasion likely to encourage thieves or disorderly persons to assemble in any part of his division, he ought to provide some additional men for the occasion, without waiting for the application of any individuals for protection. He ought to go through his division at least once a day, in order to see that his men are on their walks. He ought to notice such as are absent; to minute the same in a book; also their excuses, and to examine into the truth of their excuses;

[ocr errors]

to attend to complaints of their conduct, and to report to the magistrates such complaints as appear to be well founded. If an inspector be negligent he should be reduced to the station of an ordinary police-man, or be discharged altogether.

Police-men ought to wear a hat-band of a peculiar form, that they may be known and appealed to by sufferers from, or observers of depredators or offenders, a mark which they may easily remove when they have occasion to divest themselves of their distinguishing dress. They ought to move constantly about their walks in pairs, or one within call of another, during their prescribed hours; they ought to notice and watch the movements of all bad characters, to make up to all crowds, and if people are quarrelling or fighting, to separate them, or take them before a magistrate if refractory; to warn persons from committing any breach of the regulations of police, or other slight offence, who appear about to commit any such offence, or who have committed a slight offence through ignorance or thoughtlessness; to apply for summonses of other offenders against regulations of police, whose abodes are known, and to take into custody offenders whose fixed abode is unknown to them. They are to clear the streets, and liquor shops, and inns, of all persons who are drunk, of all beggars, vagabonds,convicted cheats or tbieves, and common prostitutes, and take them before a magistrate, also to enter other victualling houses, and in like manner take into custody such bad characters as may have been harboured therein beyond the space of one hour. They are also to seek for information of private bouses, which are resorted to by dishonest persons, and to notice the parties who enter and quit the same, and make a report thereon to their inspector. They are to follow the lawful directions of their inspectors, and of all magistrates in authority over them. They are not to ask for or accept any reward from any one for discharging their duty beyond their stated pay, and their share of penalties; nor are they to accept of any reward, bribe, or treat to forego their duty, or from persons who ought to be the objects of complaint.

It is conceived that the recent addition made to the police-men of the metropolis affords a numerical force sufficient to do the police business of the metropolis properly; but something more is necessary to be done before that force can be effective. The police-men ought to be subject to the immediate authority of the police magisVOL. XIX.


trates; but the magistrates cannot have an effectual authority over them unless they have the power to select them, and if negligent to discharge them. At present these appointments are in the gift of the Secretary of State. Great interest is made to obtain them. They are chiefly valued for the sums which the men are suffered to demand of individuals who have occasion for the assistance of the police. This is very wrong; the public pay largely for the maintenance of the police. Individuals of that public, who suffer outrage owing to the insufficiency of police protection, ought not to be called on to pay police-men again to repair the defect; but it is said the pay of the men (1 guinea per week) is not enough for them, and that they must mend their incomes by levies on individuals who have the misfortune to stand in need of police aid. I question both positions : more intelligence, courage, and good behaviour, are not required of these men than is required of non-commissioned officers in service; the pay of the latter is still less; and when it is considered that the employment of the police-men is constant (so long as they do their duty); that their pay, or part of it, will go on while under sickness or infirmity; that a provision is made for them when superannuated ; and in addition, that they have opportunities of mending their incomes, if vigilant, by a portion of the penalties arising out of informations, and a probability of becoming inspectors, (who it is proposed should have double pay,) there is no doubt that an abundance of fit men would be found ready and willing to perform the duties of policemen, for the regular pay alone. But if their regular pay be insufficient, sufferers from, and witnesses of misdoing, ought not to be saddled with the expense of supplying the deficiency. Whether their wages be high or low, however, It is only by good rules, good looking after, and off hand discharge, it found wanting, that police-men will be kept pure and steady to their daily work.

HUE AND CRY. Generally, when a crime is committed, it is expedient that the public should be informed of the particulars of it, as widely and quickly as possible. Thieves are by such means exposed to detection in getting rid of their plunder, and delinquents of every class to discovery. There are some cases in which privacy is for a time useful, but such cases are rare.

At present, our “HUE AND CRY" is most defective. If

[ocr errors]

information be lodged at a police office, instead of pro claiming the offence and the offender in the most public form, as required by law, or of “pursuing the offender with horn and voice from town to town to the sea side,according to the custom of our ancestors, it is the known practice, for the officer who gets the information to keep it to himself, that he may have the credit of taking the felon if he can, and not one offence in twenty reaches the public ear. But if the complainant be determined on publicly proclaiming a robbery, he is told that he must get some bills printed and posted, and that he must advertise in the newspapers, and in the “ Hue and Cry.” A person unused to these operations encounters much difficulty and delay in getting through them. He is besides put to a considerable expense, and in that way is frequently deterred from proceeding; for as there is no particular daily newspaper indicated for police intelligence, he has to advertise in every paper, to give a general notice even to persons connected with the police of the country. It is true that there is a police newspaper called the " Hue and Cry," but it is only published once in three weeks, and now that the communication all over the kingdom is so rapid, no one would think of giving three weeks start to a criminal before a hue and cry were raised. That paper is of no use excepting for giving information of deserters, and for that purpose it is a very tardy vehicle.

To produce a really effective “Hue and Cry,”.it is therefore proposed for all informations of robberies, frauds, and other great offences in and about the metropolis, to be taken on oath at the police offices, free of expense to the informants, and together with discoveries made of property found on suspected persons, to be abstracted and transmitted every day at noon to a central office, say the Bow Street office. The informations it is proposed to divide into three classes.

The first and principal class to be immediately inserted in a Police Gazette, published every afternoon and sent to every police office, and to gaolers, and the principal postmasters throughout England, to be by them filed.

The second class to consist of informations withheld from their uncertainty, grossness, or unimportance to the public. These it is proposed to enter in a book, open at all times for the inspection of magistrates and police officers.

The third class it is proposed should comprise informaa

« PreviousContinue »