Crime, policing and control in Leeds, c1830-1890

Churchill, David Christopher (2013). Crime, policing and control in Leeds, c1830-1890. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d3dd

Abstract

This thesis analyses policing and crime control in nineteenth-century England, through a case study of Leeds. It challenges the notion - central to traditional interpretations of criminal justice history - that the new police forces assumed near-monopolistic control over the governance of crime shortly after their foundation. The opening chapters analyse organisational change in the local police establishment, and explore the condition of the men who served in the force. There follows an extensive discussion of police priorities and the impact of policing upon property crime and street order. This section argues that the new police experienced considerable difficulties in suppressing theft, and that their most tangible successes came in regulating traffic problems, street `nuisances', and offences of recreational excess and moral transgression. The remainder of the thesis explores how the response to crime was shared between state and civil society in the Victorian city. Chapter four reconstructs a patchwork of organisations - including associational, voluntary and private bodies - which were responsible for aspects of urban policing and prosecution in this period. It also, however, begins to explore more dispersed tactics of civilian crime control, by recovering evidence of Victorian domestic and commercial security. The subsequent two chapters continue this enquiry, assessing the civilian contribution to the apprehension of offenders, criminal investigation, and the resolution of criminal encounters, both within and outside the courts. Together, these three chapters reveal how the public were intimately involved in dealing with crime in this period, and how their contributions were variously encouraged and censured by the police and press. The thesis concludes with a broad reassessment of the nineteenth-century `police settlement', and a reflection upon the issues of civilian agency and social relations which it raises.

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