1902 Encyclopedia > London > Crime; Police; Prisons

(Part 22)


Crime. Police. Prisons.

The London police district, or "Greater London," is divided into two police jurisdictions, that of the metropolitan police, with an area of 440,919 acres, and that of the City police, with an area of 668 acres. The Metropolitan police force, which superseded the night watch in 1830, owes its existence to a bill introduced by Sir Robert Peel, providing for the establishment of a Metropolitan police under the control of the executive government. In 1839 the old watch was abolished within the City limits and a City police force appointed, which however, is entirely under the control of the common council. There are two police courts within the City district, viz., Guildhall and Mansion House; and thirteen within the Metropolitan district, viz., Bow Street, Clerkenwell, Great Marlborough Street, Marylebone, Westminster, Lambeth, Southwark, Thames (Stepney), Worship Street, Woolrich, Greenwich, Hammersmith, and Wandsworth. The headquarters of the Metropolitan police are at Scotland Yard. The expenses of the two City police courts in 1880 were 10,031 pounds, and those of the Metropolitan police courts were 59,009 pounds, of which 10,527 pounds was defrayed by fines and fortfetures. The Metropolitan police have power to regulate the street traffic, to inspect and license cabs, omnibuses, and other public conveyances, to interfere in abating smoke nuisance, and to inspect common lodging houses. From 6158 in 1861 the Metropolitan force had in 1880 increased to 10,943 or one to every 430 of the population; the City police force from 628 to 830, or one o every 61 of the population. The increase of the City police force is necessitated wholly by the increase in the number of persons who daily frequent the City, for not only has the night population greatly diminished, but the resident criminal population has become almost extinct. The number of persons belonging to the criminal classes in the whole police district of the metropolis in 1880 was 2392, or one in 1882 of the population in 1881; the number of known thieves 1385, the number in England being 17,907; the number of indictable offneces was 17,835 (of which 1137 occurred in the City), the number in England being 52,427; and the number of apprehensions 5261 (City 612), the number in England being 22,231. Of indictable offences 49 were murders, 6 attempted murders, 443 attempted suicide, 1150 burglaries, 8918 simple larcenies, 1745 larcenies from the person, and 367 utterances of counterfeit coin; 47 bodies of persons found dead and unknown were photographed and not identified. The number of offences determined summarily within the area of the Metropolitan police district was 125,302, or 11.41 to every policeman, the proportion of indictable offences to every policeman being 6.70. The number of offences determined summarily within the City area was 5649, or only 6.70 to every policeman, while the proportion of indictable offences was only 78. The total expense of the Metropolitan police was 1,168,061 pounds, or about 106 pounds per man, 451,334 pounds was contributed to the expense from public revenue, and 93,071 pounds was received for special services. The expense of the City police 90,662 pounds in 1880, is defrayed wholly by rate, and the cost per man is about 109 pounds.

The following table (XXIII), gives details regarding police and crime in the Metropolitan police district since 1871, by which it will be seen that, although compared with the increase of population the total number of apprehensions has diminished, there has of late years been a considerable increase in the number of felonies, and that the amount of property lost by felonies has been increasing very seriously:-


The Newgate and Holloway prisons are in the hands of the Court of Aldermen. Newgate, rebuilt after the riots of 1780, is new no longer used for persons awaiting trial in the Central Court. The City prison, Holloway, which is the house of correction for City prisoners, was erected in 1851 at a cost of nearly 100,000 pounds. Bridewell, which occupied the site of a royal palace, and was granted to the city as a house of correction by Edward VI., was discontinued in 1864; the old Fleet prison was abolished in 1844, its site being now occupied by the memorial Hall of the Congregationalist; Horsemonger Lane prison was superseded by Wandsworth prison; and the Marshalsea in Southwark, immortalized by Charles Dickens, had been discontinued long before he wrote. The house of detention for Middlesex is Clerkenwell, and its houses of correction are Coldbath Fields for male prisoners and Westminster for females. Wandsworth is the prison for Surrey. The convict prisons within the metropolitan area are Brixton, Millbank, Pentoville, Wormwood Scrubs, Woking, and Fulham.

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