Balch-Lindsay, Virginia Suzanne
Doctor of Philosophy, History, Texas Tech University, December (1998)
This dissertation examines England’s transition from a system of criminal law enforcement that relied on individual initiative to one that relied on state-centered institutions. Between 1750 and 1830, London experienced a confluence of events, and ideas, that promoted new goals for law enforcement. The prevention of crime, not only its punishment, became an achievable goal. Reform of the criminal was another. Efficiency, effectiveness, and, humanity combined to push England’s governors toward a more rational, more enforceable code of law.
The governmental evolution began in the magistrate courts of mid-eighteenth century London, but gained its strength in the next eighty years from publicity. Henry Fielding, a magistrate at Bow Street Public Office and a noted author, used his literary skills to promote reform of the police. He argued that a salaried, professional police could prevent crime in the Metropolis. Successive reformers molded Fielding’s ideas into a coherent plan for police.