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Key Reading

  • Clive Emsley, Crime and Society in England, chapter 9

Seminar Reading

Further reading on policing may be found here.

  • Stephen Banks, Informal Justice in England and Wales, 1760-1914
  • Lucy Bland, 'Purifying the World: Feminist Vigilantes in Victorian England', Women's History Review, 1992
  • P. Cohen, ‘Policing the Working-Class City’, in Bob Fine, Capitalism and the Rule of Law: From Deviancy Theory to Marxism
  • Emelyne Godfrey, 'Urban Heroes versus Folk Devils: Civilian Self Defence in London', Crime, History & Society, 14 (2010)
  • Haia Shpayer-Makov, 'From Menace to Celebrity: the English Police Detective and the Press, 1842-1914', Historical Research, 83 (2010)
  • Haia Shpayer-Makov, The Ascent of the Detective
  • J. McMullen, ‘The New Improved Monied Police: Reform, Crime Control, and the Commodification of Policing in London’, British Journal of Criminology, 36 (1996), pp. 85-108
  • J. McMullen, ‘Social Surveillance and the Rise of the Police Machine’, Theoretical Criminology, 2 (1998), pp. 93-117
  • Ruth Paley, ‘An Imperfect, Inadequate and Wretched System? Policing London before Peel’, Criminal Justice History, 10 (1989), pp. 95–130.
  • D. Philips, ‘A New Engine of Power and Authority: The Institutionalisation of Law Enforcement in England, 1750-1830’, in V. A. C. Gattrell, B. Lenman and G. Parker (eds), Crime and the Law: the Social History of Crime in Western Europe since 1500
  • David Philips and Robert Storch, Policing provincial England, 1829-56
  • Carolyn Steedman, Policing the Victorian Community: the Formation of English Provincial Police Forces, 1856-80
  • R. Storch, ‘The Policeman as Domestic Missionary: Urban Discipline and Popular Culture in Northern England, 1850-1880’, Journal of Social History, 4 (1976)
  • Roger Swift, 'Urban policing in early Victorian England', History, 1988
  • David Taylor, Policing the Victorian Town
  • Chris A. Williams, ‘Policing the Populace: The road to professionalisation’, in David Nash and Anne-Marie Kilday (eds), Histories of Crime: Britain 1600-2000
  • Lucia Zedner, ‘Policing Before and After the Police: The Historical Antecedents of Contemporary Crime Control’, British Journal of Criminology, 46 (2006), pp. 78-96


  • How different were the 'new' police after 1829?
  • Were the police largely there to prevent crime or to detect it? How effective were they?
  • What were the differences between the urban and rural police?
  • What was the police's attitude to the community they served, and the community's attitude to the police?
  • What are the connections between the police and modernity?
  • Did the press consider the police as heroes or incompetents?
  • What was the government's attitude towards the police? What did the state want to achieve? How ideological were the police?
  • What happened when the policing system broke down? What was the role of vigilantes in Victorian Britain?