1st Edition

Policing Suspicion
Proactive Policing in London, 1780-1850

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 5, 2021
ISBN 9780367547950
November 5, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
226 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Policing Suspicion is an innovative examination of policing practices and the impact of these on patterns of arrest and prosecution in London, 1780-1850. The work establishes and defines the idea of 'proactive policing' in historical context: where police officers exercised discretion to arrest defendants on suspicion that they had recently committed, or were about to commit, an offence.

Through detailed examination of primary sources, including the Old Bailey Proceedings, newspaper reports, instructions for police officers, archival records of policing practices and Select Committee reports, the book examines the reasons given for arrests, and the characteristics of those arrested. Suggesting that individual police officers made active choices using their discretion, the book highlights how policing practices affected the received record of criminal activity. It also explores continuities and changes in policing practices before and after the establishment of the Metropolitan Police force in 1829, examining the expectations placed on the various officials responsible for law enforcement. The book contends that policing practices, and proactive officers themselves, contributed to the prevalence of criminal stereotypes. Beyond the historical, the book is situated within criminological frameworks around policing and preventive justice, noting parallels between historical policing based on suspicion and contemporary police powers such as stop and search.

Speaking to issues of wider significance for criminologists by examining interactions between the police and suspects, and reflecting on police decision making processes, the book offers an original approach to those researching both the history of crime and policing, and criminology and criminal justice more broadly.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Criminal Justice in London: Reform and Debate

Chapter 3. Expectations of Policing Agents

Chapter 4. Policing Agents and their Proactive Practices

Chapter 5. Proactive Policing: Reasons for Suspicion and Criminal Stereotypes

Chapter 6. Policing Repeat Offenders

Chapter 7. Conclusion



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Eleanor Bland is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Law at the University of Leeds, where she is undertaking research and impact activities with police practitioners and scholars, producing publications, and teaching. Dr Bland's expertise includes historical criminology; criminal justice history; policing; police history; and Victorian London.


'Bland’s research provides a fascinating account of urban policing and its practices. It seeks to excavate the interactions between policing agents and those who arose suspicion and it enriches our understanding of these contacts. In doing so, it uncovers the language of suspicion, revealing the exercise of discretion and how, ultimately, these factors influenced decision making in criminal justice and perceptions of criminality.' - Professor Helen Johnston Co-Director of Centre for Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Hull, UK