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Revision 5 The Industrial Revolution. 1750-1900. The policing system of the middle ages and the early modern period need to change because; Tithings didn’t work in large towns. The only people that could put down a riot were the army.

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The policing system of the middle ages and the early modern period need to change because;

  • Tithings didn’t work in large towns.
  • The only people that could put down a riot were the army.

In 1805 John and Henry Fielding set up the Bow Street Runners. This was an early form of police. They arrested criminals in the Bow St area, mostly highway robbers. The problem was that they only policed one small area.


In 1829 ROBERT PEEL passed the Metropolitan Police Act. Influenced by the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, he realised that a group other than the army was needed to keep public order. He may also have been scared of a revolution.


The early police were hated because many felt they were bullies. More importantly, people thought that the government were spying on them.


At the Great Exhibition of 1851 the public opinion of the police improved. They kept the crowd under control and did a good job.


In the 19th century 75% of all crime was theft. Highway robbery declined because more people were travelling on roads so it was more likely that you would be caught in the act. Improved street lighting in many areas also reduced highway robbery.


Most crime was in towns and cities There was more poverty there and it was unlikely that you would be caught.


In 1888 a serial killer murdered at least 5 prostitutes in London. He became known as Jack the Ripper. Newspapers had many articles mocking the police and saying that they couldn’t do their job because they couldn’t catch the killer.


Some people thought that criminals had distinctive facial features. For instance, a large forehead.

Some people believed in a criminal class.


The Luddites – in 1812 groups of weavers destroyed machinery that they thought was putting them out of work. 17 were executed


1819 Peterloo Massacre – At a mass meeting in Manchester held to campaign for the right to vote the army were sent in. 11 people were killed and 400 were injured.


1831 Swing Riots. These were attacks on farm machinery and buildings by agricultural workers. They were angry at low wages and high food prices. 19 were executed and hundreds were imprisoned or transported.


The Tolpuddle Martyrs – in 1834 a group of Agricultural workers were transported to Australia for joining a Trade Union.


1838-1850s Chartists were groups who campaigned for the right of working men to vote. Much of their protest coincided with high food prices.


1842 The Rebecca Riots. Protests by farmers and agricultural workers in Wales against high tolls on the new turnpike roads. The farmers dressed as Women. Some of the leaders were transported.

1800 50 the outcome
1800-50 The Outcome
  • Within 40 years there were over 6 different types of serious riot.
  • Huge panic following the French Revolution
  • The Riot Act of 1715 used frequently.
  • It was in order to keep public order that the police force were invented.

The following punishments were stopped in the 19th century;

  • Stocks and Pillory
  • Public whipping
  • Transportation – Australia refused to accept any more criminals.
  • The number of crimes that you could be executed for reduced from about 200 to 2 (Murder and treason)
  • A new punishment was needed - Prison

Initially there were not enough prisons. 70% of all prisoners went put on boat hulks floating just off the British Coast.


John Howard investigated prison conditions in Britain. He found that men, women and children were sharing cells. Killers were in the same cells as children, rapists in the same cells as women. The conditions were squalid. He convinced others that new prisons should be built.

Elizabeth Fry was particularly concerned with conditions for women. She campaigned and eventually made sure that there were seperate wings or even prisons for women.


In the Separate system you couldn’t see anyone else. In the Silent system, you could see other prisoners but not speak. Some had Pointless work such as oakum picking whilst others had Useful work such as learning a trade.


Execution stopped happening in public. It started to be done in prison. You could only be executed for murder or treason (including rebellion)


Because the government was scared of revolution, it passed the Riot act in 1715. This was a law that said crowds asked to disperse by a magistrate must do so.


It was only really rich people that could afford Lawyers.

The Court System remained largely unchanged.

However, you no longer had to catch criminals yourself. You only had to tell the Police.


The 19th century is characterised by changing attitudes.

Governments took more control.

Crime and Punishment was influenced by the growth of towns, the invention of machinery, new attitudes and even the French Revolution.