The Miner and the Policeman: Miner George Brearley speaks with policeman Paul Castle during the 'Battle of Orgreave' on 18 June 1984. Photograph: Don McPhee/Rex.

British Police and the Democratic Idea since 1829

Tutor: Mark Roodhouse

Module type: Explorations

Module Code: HIS00032I

The ‘Bobby on the beat’ is a national icon for the British. The uniformed but unarmed British police who patrol a neighbourhood on behalf of their local community have long been regarded by Britons as the best police in the world. This ‘British model’ of policing stands in stark contrast to a ‘colonial’ or ‘Irish model’ of policing applied elsewhere in the British Empire. This course will ask how far these characterizations fit the theory and practice of policing in the British world.

Starting with the immediate predecessors of the London Metropolitan Police at the turn of the eighteenth century, we will look at the formation and operation of the New Police and their counterparts in the early nineteenth century before charting and comparing the evolution of policing systems in Britain and elsewhere during the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century.

The seminar programme will likely deal with the following:

  • Constable Dogberry – the ‘old’ police
  • The ‘Peelers’ – creating the ‘New Police’
  • ‘A plague of blue locusts’ – police and people in the C19
  • John Bull’s other island – inventing colonial policing
  • Plain clothes – detective policing
  • Political policing – Special Branch and the Security Service
  • ‘An indulgent tradition’ – police and people in the C20
  • The death of PC 49, or the beat goes on
  • Policing and decolonisation

Students will complete a group research project that examines the theory and practice of community-based policing in the British world. Students are encouraged to use Paperpile, a free, easy-to-use research tool, to collect, organize, cite and share their research resources, and expected to use online databases, such as Old Bailey Online, and printed sources identified by the tutor as well as secondary reading.

For more detailed information, please visit the module catalogue.

You can also find out more about the scene in the image above here.