Development of Professional Policing

The emphasis here was on training and skills needed to prevent crime and maintain order. The journey was a long and arduous one for professional policing as its proponents and detractors fought tooth and nail to promote or prevent its development.
The transition phase was a turbulent one as the debate raged on, with arguments flowing thick and fast between those who called for reform and their opponents. In the protracted battle that was to follow the detractors initially gained the upper hand and were able to stall many parliamentary measures that were proposed to establish more professional and effective policing. Eventually the tide turned in favour of the reformers, and the New Police took firm root in English society. A critical analysis of the arguments for and against the development of professional policing in nineteenth century England can prove to be very illuminating for the student of police history.
Towards the end of its tenure, and sometime at the beginning of the nineteenth century the Old police received a lot of criticism and was tried on the charges of inadequacy, inefficiency, corruption and dereliction of duty. There were voices calling out for reform and the establishment of improved policing, meanwhile, the criticism continued to pour in. Critchley (1967) insisted that during those times of inept policing there was real "danger of a total relapse into barbarity" (cited by Godfrey and Lawrence, 2005, p.17). Rawlings (2002, p. 108) also mentions the criticism against the London night watchmen, "the almost useless, decrepit, and inefficient tribe of watchmen with which for the most part, the streets of the metropolis may rather be said to be infested rather than protected".
The reasons were many for the charges against the old police. The parish constables were selected on a rotation basis and they could hire deputies, who were usually poorly qualified to satisfactorily perform the task at hand. John Wade in response to this practice said, "The office has fallen into the hands of the lowest class of retailers and costardmongers, who make up the deficient allowance of their principals by indirect sources of emolument" (cited by Rawlings, 2002, p.109). Once the term of office was over they had to resume their role in the community as ordinary citizens and go back to their former occupations. Therefore not surprisingly most of the constables, being aware of this fact were more concerned with currying favour with the locals and conforming to popular opinion than preventing crime and implementing measures that were unpalatable to local taste. Sometimes victims were unable to pay for the services of the constable and the criminal would not be apprehended. Furthermore, according to Godfrey and Lawrence (2005, p.14), they were not assured a steady or lucrative income, so "they may well have been less willing to act on their own initiative and more willing simply to do the minimum required of them". In other words due to the lack of a financial incentive, the constables did not perform their functions adequately and for the same reason they were not above criminal