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It is upon these grounds, among many others, that we rejoice in the repeal of all the statutes which gave specific rewards upon the conviction of criminals. But, because the precise sum of 407. is taken away, it did not therefore follow, that the diligent and meritorious officer was to receive no extra remuneration; and we see with great satisfaction, that a power to assign a fit recompense is given by the new Act to the secretary of state. The duty of the constable is to be constantly on the patrole; to keep watch and ward in the streets of the metropolis; and, from their numbers, to carry conviction in the mind of every one who walks the streets by night or by day, that, if honest, his person and property are protected,-but if criminal, that the eyes of the police are upon all his actions, and a pursuer at his heels. Why, we would ask, has the system of footpad robbery, which prevailed to such an extent in the vicinity of London some years ago, entirely ceased?-Surely for no other reason but that the robber knows that patroles are abroad; and he feels that while he commits the crime he may be seized in the act, or pursued so closely that flight is impossible. By no magic has this system of robbery ceased:-crime has tripled in amount since that period; but the highwayman and footpad are aware, that a strict look-out is kept upon their proceedings on the high road; and, however disposed to plunder, they dare not gratify their inclinations. We say then-adopt this system in the streets of the metropolis; patrole the leading thoroughfares and streets by day and by night; do not keep the chosen band of constables in their respective offices plying, like watermen, for fares. Their duty is abroad, and in regular watch, not only to detect, but to prevent. Of course it is difficult to specify the precise quantum of force required in each office or district; but we are sure that the present force is greatly deficient, when Mr. Mainwaring says that he has six constables at Marlborough-street, and a district to watch over, containing above two hundred thousand persons, and a great proportion of those among the most ignorant and indigent inhabitants of the metropolis; that he knows above an hundred receiving-houses in his division; and, to use his own energetic phrase, "it is necessary to watch at the pit's mouth." When Mr. B. Allen states that he has nine constables for the charge of one hundred thousand inhabitants, and the watch of not less than three hundred resident thieves, we are not surprised at the disgraceful scenes which hourly occur,-neither life nor property being safe -or that the inhabitants of particular streets should voluntarily subscribe to provide watchmen to secure against the connivance of their domestic police, and obtain that protection which the miserable parsimony of the stipendiary police denies them. Our notions of an effective police, are in the union of constant inspection on the part of the magistracy, to a strength of numbers of
inferior agents, in order to enable them to arrest the criminal propensities of individuals before they break out into overt acts, the whole well organized and well remunerated. With these two materials in active operation, we do not say there will be no crime, but we are sure that the amount will be much diminished; and few, if any, of those outrages which now daily and nightly disgrace the metropolis, will be perpetrated. There is another part of this question to which we feel compelled to refer ;-we mean the increased disposition that exists to compound with criminals on the restitution of the property stolen. No part of the system of police requires more investigation than this. Several statements on this fearful topic are now lying before us. We have the names of all the parties; but for the present, at least, we shall not publish them.
(A) a merchant in the city was robbed of shawls, &c. of the value of 1000l. On the discovery of the robbery, he went to one of the principal police offices, and applied for assistance to search after the robbers. He met, however, with little encouragement to proceed in his inquiries; but was advised to offer a large reward, and was told that not less than 5 or 6007. would answer his purpose. He objected to the amount of the sum; but at last was persuaded to give 400l., upon the assurance that all the goods stolen would be restored. He accordingly paid into the hands of the constable (B, one of the officers of police,) eight 507. notes, and within a few hours a covered cart drove up to his warehouse, a package was left, which being opened contained all the property stolen. We ask,-is it possible to doubt that the thief and the police were in some way connected in this business? Again: we have heard of bills to a large amount having been stolen, and the parties suspected of the theft being in custody and committed for re-examination: during the interval a negotiation took place; and in the anti-chamber of the police office a sum of money was passed from the hands of one of the officers into the possession of the person who held the bills, which were restored immediately to the legal owner;-the parties were brought up to be examined, no one appeared against them, and they were discharged.
These are acts of common occurrence, and require the strictest attention on the part of the magistracy to correct them. Their causes are, the trouble and expenses of prosecution, the severity of our punishments, and the secret understanding which subsists between the protectors of the property of the community, and the regular spoilers of it. But be the causes what they may, these things shake the confidence of the public in the integrity of the police, and affix a stigma on the character of its instruments,-on the innocent as well as on the guilty. They make men think it wiser and safer to sit down contented with the original loss, or to trust to their own exertions to discover the criminal, rather than employ the agency of per
sons who, for aught they know, may have been the instigators of the robbery, and sharers in the spoil. We beg not to be misunderstood. We by no means intend to charge all the police officers with being guilty of these practices: on the contrary, we know several, in whom we place great trust. But we speak of the system in general, and of its effects on the public mind; and we appeal to those who attend our courts of justice, for the truth of our assertions. We again wish to urge the necessity of securing the integrity of these "dangerous creatures," as Townshend, a celebrated officer, styles his fellows *.
By giving them the means of an honest livelihood, and by making it their interest to continue in the possession of it, they will be enabled to aid in the detection of offenders more gratuitously then they do at present. Observe the difference between the police of London and Paris :-A gentleman's house is broken open in the latter city; he applies to the police; the greatest exertions are made to discover the criminals; and all this search and inquiry is conducted free of expense to the complainant. In London, the same event entails upon the sufferer a heavy expense, and, in great robberies, an enormous cost in the nature of reward. What then is the reason of this difference between the two countries? Surely because in France the police considers a private robbery as a public evil, as a state offence, in which the Government is implicated, being charged by its constitution with the protection of the persons and properties of its subjects: whereas, in England, the police lets itself out for hire, at the cost of individuals; opens a sort of shop for the sale of its commodity; and, if it is not well paid, will by no means interfere. This system cannot be right. It was, however, attempted to be justified or explained away before the police committee; but it still remains a common complaint in the mouths of the people, and is one of the causes of the impunity which criminals enjoy."
We have thus, as shortly as the extent and importance of the question would admit of, stated the defects of the present system of stipendiary police as existing in the metropolis. Wherever any establishment of a similar nature has been set on foot, the evils, we have no doubt, are of the same character; and, without again recurring to a specification of them, we venture to suggest the remedies we have proposed, as those most likely to effect a cure. Yet, before we conclude, there are some topics connected with this great subject, upon which we wish to offer a few remarks, more particularly as His Majesty's Government are pledged to institute an inquiry by a Committee of the House of Commons prior to the re-enactment of the present Police Bill (which has only
* Police Report, 1817.
one year's duration). We beg, in the first place, to urge the investigation of the manner in which, first, the high-constables in the Middlesex and Surry districts of the metropolis are appointed, and in the second, the way in which the duties are performed. The same investigation to be entered into in respect to the petty constable of each parish in the metropolis. This effected, we venture to affirm, that more abuses will be brought to light, and more foul corruption manifest, than even those who have most inquired into the present practice of the police can imagine. It was proved before the former police committees (in 1816, 1817, and 1818),* that these persons have troublesome offices and no salaries; that the highconstables generally (we had almost written uniformly), even if they are not embarked in a trade of that description, already engage in one, which enables them to command the custom of persons who are under their inspection and controul. They are, in fact, generally coal-merchants; and we have now before us printed circulars from three out of four of these police functionaries, which were left at the alehouses in their respective divisions, soliciting the custom of the occupant. The bulk of their custom is to be found in houses of this description, and in brothels. Deal with the high-constable, and you may live as you choose, and do what you will;--but woe betide your license, if any other tradesman is employed! Again: the petty constable, in almost every division, acts by deputy, who receives a small sum of about five guineas for undertaking that duty :-indeed we have heard of instances where money has been paid for the appointment.
This officer, too, has no salary; and his trouble is to be repaid by levies on alehouses, brothels, billeting of soldiers, attendancè on courts of justice to swear away life and character, and all the various devices by which money can be extorted, protection given to vice, or profit extracted from misfortune. We once more refer our readers to the evidence taken before the Police Coinmittee in 1818, particularly to that of Mr. Charlesworth and Mr. Lindsay; and we ask,-who can be surprised at the state of our streets; the insecurity of life and property; the outrages that daily occur; and the impunity of crime? There is yet one more topic for investigation, and that is, the protection given to those sinks of infamy and vice, the flash houses in the metropolis. We have now before us a list of some hundreds, all of which are notorious receptacles of thieves and prostitutes, which are known to all the parish constables, headboroughs, high constables, and po
Vide Mr. Baker's Evidence, p. 76, Report, 1816. Mr. Collins, p. 205, 1817.
lice officers, to be so. Many of them are brothels, and places for "fencing" stolen goods, as well as alchouses, and have been so, under the same or different tenants, for years. Why then, we demand, are they suffered to exist? Is it because they pay for their impunity; or because the police can there hunt down thieves, as gentlemen go to their preserves for game? Or is it because the owners of this species of property find the means of securing the favour of those whose duty it is to suppress these sources of the corruption of youth-these plagues that destroy the poor and the industrious? We do not wish to exaggerate: let those who doubt these statements read the evidence taken before the Police Committee, and judge if all that we have written does not fall short of the truth. We trust that the House of Commons (which is about to institute an inquiry into these subjects) will probe them to the bottom; and we feel confident that a large proportion of the crimes which disgrace our national character may be traced to causes which an honest and effective police can controul. Let it, however, never be forgotten," that the police of a free country is to be found in rational and humane laws; in an effective and enlightened magistracy; and in the judicious and proper selection of those officers of justice, in whose hands, as conservators of the peace, executive duties are legally placed: but, above all, in the moral habits and opinions of the people. And in proportion as these approximate towards a state of perfection, so that people may rest in security; and though their property may be occasionally invaded, or their lives endangered by the hands of wicked and desperate individuals, yet the institutions of the country being sound, its laws well administered, and justice executed towards offenders, no greater safeguard can be obtained, without sacrificing all those rights which society was instituted to preserve*."
ART. IV. Some Account of M. Jean Frederic Oberlin.
HAT beneficence is a virtue imperative upon all who have the means and opportunities of exercising it, cannot for a moment be doubted. The sentiment is congenial with the dictates of reason; Revelation exhorts us to "do good, and to communicate;" and practical christianity mainly consists in loving our neighbour as ourselves. Neither will it be denied that all endeavours to promote the welfare of man are accompanied by a pleasurable enjoyment of the purest and most exalted nature. It is a wise ordination of Providence, that the work and the reward of kindness go
Report of Police Committec, 5th June, 1818.