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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This exploratory essay outlines various pivotal trends in the professionalization of police detection in England, France, and the United States from the mid-eighteenth century to the Second World War. Key landmarks in the evolution of the role of the detective from criminal turned paid informant, or from nonspecialist law enforcer, to a professional member of a detective unit are traced. The essay draws upon the history of forensic science to highlight the interface between detection and forensic science and to point toward forensic science methodologies that made significant inroads in the world of police detection, thereby enhancing its professionalization.

Keywords: detectives, criminal investigation, police professionalization, forensic science, criminal identification, English police, French police, American police

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