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report in writing to its immediate office, of the circuits which it has separately and collectively covered, and of all incidents worthy of observation ; such reports should form a continued police diary, regularly embodied into the public records of the office.
Much must be done before this description of discipline can be effected; in the first place, a great addition must be made to the number of officers. The public has complained, with justice, of a want of protection; but neither the Government, not the police, have been able adequately to afford it. During the time in which I have acted in a public office, I have had within my jurisdiction two of the most extensive districts in the metropolis, one containing, according to the Census of 1811, a population of 160,000 persons; and that in which I am now placed, according to the same Census, above 300,000; in the former, there were six acting constables, and in the latter there have been, (till within a very short time past), the same number, two having been lately added, all differing necessarily in talent and fitness. Can, therefore, our present state be matter of surprise ? Besides, this force, from the smallness of its number, is incapable of a right application; it is principally occupied in the apprehension of offenders, or wasted upon comparatively minor objects; in waiting or watching for the casual fees of ordinary warrantserving, and in endeavouring to allay the angry passions, rather than to frustrate the criminal propensities of mankind; it has, in truth, almost exclusively an ex post facto operation. Under our present limited system it is the interest of officers to be concentrated at the office, remaining there, to take advantage of what has been done; instead of spreading themselves abroad, to prevent what may be done against society. Nor can it be expected to be otherwise; neither the pay nor the inducements of officers are sufficient to give the proper impulse to their exertions. They receive only one guinca per week as salary, all other legitimate emoluments being derivable from the public or from individuals requiring their assistance, after they have suffered either in person or property ; consequently, the commission of crimes becomes the officers' pecuniary interest. There are not funds, and the magistrates have not the power to reward them for the performance of the more useful and arduous duty of prevention; the duty of prevention is constant; incessant vigilance can alone produce it; and it is absurd to expect it without the action of a sufficiently powerful stimulus.
Before, however, we consider the ineans of giving a better direction to the exertions of officers, it is necessary to look to possible evils of a more formidable nature than those that we have just contemplated.
Exclusive of the magnitude of our official Criminal Calendars, every body conversant with police must know that an infinitely larger number of offences are committed than are ever exhibited in them. The trouble and expense of prosecution, the efforts made on behalf of prisoners, the impulses of humanity, the spirit of mercy so prevalent in this country, together with the difficulties and doubts of law, stop the course of thousands at the beginning, or in the progress of criminal accusation; offenders know this, and they calculate accordingly. Hence the want of a check upon their original career produces another result, which no law can obviate; or rather, which law or the apprehension of its consequences in the minds of prosecutors greatly aggravates, because, in proportion as the law discourages a prosecutor it encourages an offender. The operation of police should therefore be to step in between the criminal and the crime, and if it cannot amend his heart, at least to defeat his act, and to anticipate ultimate punishment by instant prevention.
But, we have not yet seen all the mischiefs of which our present police may be productive: it is sufficiently melancholy to reflect that in principle, and in means, it is thus defective, and that the operation of our laws has frequently a tendency to augment rather than to diminish crime. But still further, however painful the continued examination of the system may be, we must not blind ourselves to the possible frightful contingency of its corrupting those who are engaged in its administration. I must unequivocally disclaim any imputation upon the persons to whom the foregoing observation refers; it is to the moral tendency of the system that I alone apply it.
Let us then examine the grounds of this apprehension as officers are now circumstanced; they may derive their emoluments in criminal cases from one or more of three sources: from the public, from the accuser, or the accused: from the public out of the county stock, by the order of the court, on alleged consideration for loss of time, trouble, and expenses whilst indictments and trials are pending. Large as the aggregate sum is, from which this supposed remuneration is given, it is on many occasions insufficient to cover the inevitable charges which are incurred, in waiting for days and sometimes for weeks successively, to attend parties to prefer an indictment or to appear at a trial. Officers are very frequently engaged as
parties to several prosecutions in the same session; but the avowed principle of compensation to them is upon a computation of time according to the number of days which they have attended the court; in fact, paying them as for one prosecution, regardless of the exclusive attention which each case may have required for weeks or months before it could have reached a court of justice, and, perhaps justly grounding the order of the court upon the consideration that for such services they are rewarded as the servants of the police. The public allowance then affords little encouragement to the officers in the prosecution of offenders, and we have seen that it does not pretend to consider them in the prevention or discovery of offences.
Their next source of supposed reward, namely, from the accusers, if even it were an adequate inducement, is in its consequences highly exceptionable; police is for the protection of the whole public, for the poor as well as for the rich; but has not the present system of reward an inevitable tendency to make the rich rather than the poor, the objects of an officer's attention? The public, as we have seen, do not reward them, the poor, cannot ; where then can a fair reward be expected, but in cases where the more wealthy require their aid? And are we to expect that this description of persons is of all others never to be actuated by interest? can this be right ? and is it not possible that this species of reward may be directed more to restitution than punishment, and that officers may thereby be made instruments to defeat rather than to promote justice?
But we must not stop here; for after the review which we have just taken, may it not follow, that if officers be not properly rewarded, they may be corrupted ? Most strictly confining myself to the principle upon which these observations are grounded, should I not further ask whether it may not, by possibility, be the officer's interest that the guilty should escape, rather than that the poor or the parsimonious should prosecute; always remembering that the wealthy and the generous are the only persons to whom interest would call his exertions. It is likewise impossible to exclude from our consideration the probable contingencies of an officer's life; his pursuit exposes him to the corruptions, and to a great degree, acquaints him with the corrupted part of mankind; he must therefore have need of a more than common virtue not to acquire a familiarity with the objects of his constant attention. It is in human nature that he should do so, and that his severity must thereby be relaxed towards those with
whom, under our existing system of inadequate compensation, he is thrown into such dangerous contact.
Let us consider a few of the cases in which a misunder. stood economy in the remuneration of officers may injuriously operate; first, in those where the preventive function, that of mere vigilance, is concerned; and, secondly, in those where their actual authority begins in the apprehension of offenders, upon the commission of crime: in the former there may be an indirect, in the latter a direct, influence. To give to each its illustration; take the most extensive criminal operation of the present day, the forgery of the Bank of England notes. Capitalists and large manufacturers are engaged in their circulation; this paper-commodity is too tempting for human avidity to resist; and numbers seek it from the facility and rapidity with which it promises to realize a large profit. The traffic in forged notes must from these causes, attract many traders, and become a most formidable encroachment on the circulation of the country. The sources of the circulation, viz., the manufacturers, should therefore be the primary objects of discovery and destruction; but may we not fear, as things are now circumstanced, that to the circulation, and not to the manufacturer, will the officers' vigilance be directed: because, if month after month, session after session, year after year, it be found that the irresistible propensity to the traffic more than keeps pace with its victims, and that, in proportion to their increase such is the increase of profits to those wbo discover them; must not such a result have a corrupting influence which no power is likely to subdue? Is it, then, improbable that they, who benefit by the workings of this system, should blind themselves to the means of detecting and destroying the sources of their own profit, and that they should also suffer the great channels, through which it flows, to continue their supply to the numerous minor branches which produce to them so rich a harvest. I may be told that the mischief is arrested as quickly as it can be discovered; but can it avail to cut off a few miserable abortions of this noxious race, whilst the parent stock is suffered to exist in full health, vigor, and fecundity; or should our thief-catchers (they must excuse me for the instant) act as our mole-catchers are reported to do, always suffer a few good breeders to remain, in the certainty of being recalled at proper intervals to reap the benefit of their foresight and sagacity?
Again, let us look at the more dexterous and daring class of depredators, who have talent as well as money to contrive and execute their plans. It is known that such persons will
almost exclusively devote themselves for months to the perpetration of a great robbery; for instance, that of stage coaches and other conveyances carrying large sums of money; the plan of these persons being ultimately settled, a robbery of this sort is committed; may not here a prospective possibility of interest occur to the mind of an officer ? for if any considerable part of the booty be undisposed of, will it not be the feeling and the interest of the sufferer, as well as that of all parties, that the affair be compromised, that the sufferer shall save a great part rather than lose the whole; that the robber should restore a part and escape conviction, and that the officer shall be doubly rewarded for the success of his common agency? Is it the interest of officers, under our present system, to destroy altogether these bold, and possibly profitable contributors to their gains ? Various are the cases of greater or less influence, to show the indirect encouragement to crime to which I have adverted; but if our principle of police apply to one, it must be applicable to all. The immediate direct influence must be more frequent than the former.
Thieves, in their public haunts, are daily under the eyes of our officers; we know their manifold 'depredations, but how comparatively few are the apprehensions: and from the little pecuniary impulse to the proper discharge of an officer's duty, may not temptation here again seduce him to the breach of it? if a valuable prize be the fruit of a successful and almost open robbery, is it impossible that interest may suggest a similar negociation to that which I have recently described, and the abandonment and participation of the property, upon the same principle of appropriation? Be it observed, that this is general reasoning; but shall a reasoning be rejected in the application to one part of mankind, which is applied to all other parts? When we know our corrupt and corruptible nature; when experience and daily observation show us the charms with which bribery assails and subdues the heart of man, should we not at least guard that class of men who are, of all others the most exposed to it ? and are we doing so? But it may be said, Can this be prevented ? If the question be put in the abstract, whether any mode of encouragement or reward can be devised which shall, in its universal operation, make it the officer's interest to trust to the bounty of the public, rather than that of the criminal, in every possible case and contingency; the answer must obviously be, that such a plan cannot be devised. This, however, is not the right question, nor is it the correct view of the sub
VOL. XIX. Pam. NO. XXXVIII. 2 M