1st Edition

Policing Suspicion Proactive Policing in London, 1780-1850

By Eleanor Bland Copyright 2022
    192 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    192 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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




    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

    'Contemporary police power draws upon deep but largely obscure historical roots. Policing Suspicion exposes a key facet of the deep structure of police power: the formation of suspicion and exercise of control over those deemed suspicious. By illuminating how police officials exercised suspicion during a crucial period of modern police development – and how this affected ‘suspicious’ persons themselves – this book offers unique insights into policing and urban order that resonate strongly with the struggles and experiences of our own time.' -Dr David Churchill, Associate Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Leeds, UK

    "This book takes a direction that far fewer police historians have followed: proactive policing on the ground. While the book is rooted in historical evidence (both qualitative and quantitative), it takes a broadly interdisciplinary approach, drawing on criminological and police studies, for example, in relation to terminology such as ‘proactive policing’ and ‘stop and search’. This is an excellent study of both formal and informal policing in a period during which law enforcement in the metropolis underwent a significant evolution, even though continuities remain. It is highly recommended and has much to offer the student of policing and the mechanics of justice in the metropolis in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries." - Heather Shore (2022): Policing Suspicion: Proactive Policing in London, 1780–1850, The London Journal