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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The public police is an inseparable part of the modern state, and the origins and development of the ideas of police, policing, and their institutional locations have been the subject of considerable historical debate over the last four decades. This essay reviews the historiography of modern policing, which can be divided into three strands. The first has aimed to revise earlier accounts identifying modern civil policing as the legacy of Robert Peel’s London Metropolitan Police. The second has highlighted the importance of an earlier European conception of policing as a comprehensive government of populations. The third has been preoccupied with the origins, function, and diffusion of militarized gendarmerie-style policing, closely identified with state security and French prerevolutionary police innovations. This essay further examines how these approaches have been closely linked to contemporary debates about the powers, functions, and governance of the modern public police.

Keywords: police, empire, absolutism, preventative policing, public order, state, government, governance

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