chapter  V
4 Pages

The Establishment of the Police Force

The one function of London government which received serious and drastic treatment during the first half of the 19th century was the police. The protection of property was regarded by the ruling classes in early Victorian London as more important than the protection of health, the preservation of amenities, the promotion of education, the development of the highways, the maintenance of public utilities, or, indeed, any other aspect of local government whatever. Hence it came about that while precious years were allowed to slip away without any general reorganisation of the local government of the metropolis being attempted until the reforming movement of 1835 had spent itself and great opportunities had been irrevocably lost, Parlia­ ment intervened with a firm hand at an early stage to sweep away the archaic collection of Bow Street runners and other quaint devices which served as a substitute for an effective police force.