The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840

The First English Detectives The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London This is the first scholarly study of the Bow Street Runners a group of men established in the middle of the eighteenth century by Henry Fielding with the financial support of the government to conf

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  • Title: The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840
  • Author: John M. Beattie
  • ISBN: 9780199675388
  • Page: 217
  • Format: Paperback
  • This is the first scholarly study of the Bow Street Runners, a group of men established in the middle of the eighteenth century by Henry Fielding, with the financial support of the government, to confront violent offenders on the streets and highways around London They were developed over the following decades by his half brother, John Fielding, into what became a well knThis is the first scholarly study of the Bow Street Runners, a group of men established in the middle of the eighteenth century by Henry Fielding, with the financial support of the government, to confront violent offenders on the streets and highways around London They were developed over the following decades by his half brother, John Fielding, into what became a well known and stable group of officers who acquired skill and expertise in investigating crime, tracking and arresting offenders, and in presenting evidence at the Old Bailey, the main criminal court in London They were, Beattie argues, detectives in all but name Fielding also created a magistrates court that was open to the public for the first time, at stated times every day.A second, intimately related theme in the book concerns attitudes and ideas about the policing of London broadly, particularly from the 1780s, when the detective and prosecutorial work of the runners came to be increasingly opposed by arguments in favour of the prevention of crime by surveillance and other means The last three chapters of the book continue to follow the runners work, but at the same time are concerned with discussions of the larger structure of policing in London in parliament, in the Home Office, and in the press These discussions were to intensify after 1815, in the face of a sharp increase in criminal prosecutions They led in a far from straightforward way to a fundamental reconstitution of the basis of policing in the capital by Robert Peel s Metropolitan Police act of 1829 The runners were not immediately affected by the creation of the New Police, but indirectly it led to their disbandment a decade later.

    One thought on “The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840”

    1. A comprehensive look at the Bow Street Runners, as they were popularly (and dismissively) called. For all they're romanticized in modern times, popular literature of the 19th century often portrayed them as bumbling fools. Beattie's book goes a long way toward reclaiming their reputation, and is both fascinating history and surprisingly readable, given his frequent references to accountancy and court records. I would have liked a few more appendices, particularly a list of the Bow Street chief m [...]

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