Industrial Revolution Era Police Force

The industrial revolution resulted in large groups of people flocking to cities to run the new engines of industry. Before the industrial revolution, prducts were manufactured using the domestic system, usually requiring just a few people to work in any one place. The rise of massive machines, sometimes requiring acres of floor space increased the number of people working in a single place by several orders of magnitude. Factories employed not two to three people, but hundreds of people. Factories such as the cromford mill in Cromford,Derbyshire, England, employed 800 people by 1789. This led to enormous increases in the population of industrialized cities. The population of manchester skyrocketed from around 80,000 people to over 300,000 between 1800 and 1840. This massive increase in population density, coupled with a decrease in individual worker importance brought with it a rise in crime.

Few towns had police forces large enough to deal with the influx of people and the rise in crime. Before the industrial revolution, most places dealt with law enforcement with a social structure known as the tudor system. Under this system, towns had a constable or sherrif, and maybe a few deputies to deal with local criminals. After populations started to number in the millions rather than one or two hundred thousand, this was not enough.

In London, they passed the Peel’s metropolitan police act of 1829 in order to address this problem. The act only applied to London, and reformed the police force in several ways. The police now were controlled under one authority, and its size more than doubled from 400 to 1000 men. These men were now employed full time, and given special training in law enforcement to assist them with their duties. This change gave rise to our image of the “bobby” like those pictured above. Initially, the new policeman were seen as infringements on peoples civil and political rights, however they did lead to a decrease in crime.

The rise of police forces being attributed to the industrial revolution and the migration of the population to cities is further supported by the observation that few rural areas enacted the same reforms. Very few cities did not enact the reforms however, and by 1839 most cities in Egnland maintained police forces of about one policeman for every 800-1000 citizens.

Without the industrial revolution causing an increase in population density and lowering of an individuals power to make a living without working in a factory, there would not have been a rise in crime. The rise in crime was the reason cities saw the need to standardize and increase their police forces. This is why the industrial revolution brought about the first modernized police forces.

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