Late 19th Century Law and Order
Thick green smog hung in the air and filth ran in the streets. 19th
century London was not a nice place to live. Crime was on the up with
burglaries, drunkenness and assault being just some of the crimes
committed. Women got a rough deal. There was no work available to them
so many women turned to prostitution and alcoholism. Surprisingly
enough, however, the percentages of violent deaths was very low, with
around 15 murders, and 50 cases of manslaughter a year.
The London police force has been active since 1829, when uniformed
officers patrolled the streets. Named after their founder, Sir Robert
Peel, "bobbies" tried to keep order in the streets of London. They
carried 15" truncheons and whistles. They were not welcomed to the
streets of London as the people saw them as very "un-English."
Assaults on the police were not uncommon. In 1882, 3581 people were
arrested for assaulting an officer. When Sir Charles Warren became
commissioner of the police force in 1885, the policemen were issued
with a uniform of a helmet and a dark blue tunic, making them stand
out further. Before this, in 1842, a small detective force of
un-uniformed officers, called the criminal investigation department
was set up.
As industrialisation and urbanisation in 19th century England
increased, the crime levels rose, and posed new kinds of crimes.
Because of the serious levels of crime, by 1876, the police had a
record of 180,000 criminals. They were being released before they had
been tried due to a system called "the ticket of leave system." Many
of these criminals probably returned to the streets to commit further
burglaries and muggings. Violent muggings were not uncommon. Gangs of
three men would wait for their victims before stunning them and half
strangling them. This form of attack is known as garrotting. In the
area of Whitechapel, prostitutes were frequently mugged for their
night's earnings this way. Larceny was also widespread. Criminals
would frequently break into people's houses and steal their
belongings, resulting in many people having locks fitted on their