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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines developments in law enforcement before the birth of the widely heralded “new” police in the nineteenth century, focusing on mainland Britain but drawing comparisons with European experiences to ascertain how British developments fit within an international context. The essay shows that policing arrangements in eighteenth-century Britain were extremely advanced in many parts of the country, and the 1829 Metropolitan Police Act was the culmination of decades of innovation. Modern policing practices evolved from the activities of local elites, private and public watching and prosecution schemes, and a burgeoning print culture. Rather than viewing policing in Europe with suspicion, many British reformers were receptive to and embraced continental policing ideas and practices, underlining the need to acknowledge the important role that intellectual transfer and national and local emulation played in the evolution of modern policing.

Keywords: police, prosecution, law enforcement, constables, print, Britain, Europe

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