The Metropolitan police and government, 1860-1920

Morris, Robert Matthew (2004). The Metropolitan police and government, 1860-1920. PhD thesis The Open University.



This dissertation explores the experience of the Metropolitan police in the period of its Victorian maturation with a focus on the relations between the operational force and its political sponsors. It is demonstrated that, when more relaxed budgetary policies became feasible in the later nineteenth century, initial parsimony gave way to indulgence of police officer demands in a situation where, despite the legal appearance of full control by the Home Secretary, there were in fact no effective local or even national Parliamentary counterbalances. The sponsoring department, the Home Office, was in practice outgrown by its own creation and later Commissioners struggled also to exert control of a force which developed strong, and sometimes deviant, cultures of its own. Except for resort to the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police District in ways initially unplanned, the Home Office settled for the appearance rather than the reality of effective control. In crisis, on the other hand, ultimate political control could not be challenged when it operated to restore public confidence in the force. However, it has also to be understood that the extent to which that control was exerted in the public interest was dependent in turn on the extent to which political citizenship comprehended the whole population. A restricted electorate meant that the political sponsors could afford to have limited ambitions for the exercise of their own responsibilities. Ultimately,"municipalisation" (that is, local authority control) of the force in 2000 was less an effect of a more "democratic" state than the product of changes in the way executive government managed the police service and local government as a whole.

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