Policing in the UK stems as far back as back as the mid 1700’s when the Bow Street Runners were deployed to fight organised crime. There was at the time strong community feeling that the Police should not be organised by the Government for fear opponents of them would be arrested, protests stopped and the end to freedom of speech.
However it wasn’t until the early 1800’s that Robert Peel the then Tory Home Secretary influenced change to fight crime in a more organised way and started the Metropolitan Police Service.
The public reacted angrily towards the early Police Constables as they were seen as bullies and drunks. One Constable stabbed to death when he tried to stop a protest and when a jury found the man responsible not guilty they were awarded medals. Justices of the Peace were also angry that they had no control over the Police but due to the affect the service was having on crime and in particular organised crime it became accepted by the public. This then was the beginning of Policing in the UK with Public Consent.
Since the 1900’s legislation formulating the office of Police Constable in the form of the Police Regulation Act has been in force. The Act has been periodically updated to reflect modernisation of the Police Service ever since. The most recent changes to the Act came into effect in 2008.
Part of the Police Regulations Act from the post war era led to the formulation of Police Service we see today.
Since the 1960’s Police Authorities were set up across the 43 Police Service areas in England & Wales. The British Transport Police – BTP, Civil Nuclear also have a Police Authority and the Ministry Of Defence Police have a Police Committee with Northern Ireland having a Policing Board. Scotland is set up quite differently being governed by local authorities or boards rather than Police Authorities.
Most police authorities have 17 members with 9 local councillors appointed by the local council, 8 independent members selected following local advertisements, at least one of whom must be a magistrate. The Metropolitan Police Authority is the largest and has 23 members because of the size of the force area.
How is the Police Service paid for?
The Police Service in England and Wales are each given funding from three main sources. Directly from the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government or in Wales the Welsh Assembly and lastly from local Council Tax.
The Police Service can also generate income from charging for policing at Sporting and Entertainment events.
You can begin to understand now why the Police Service has become a complex Service to run. There are now also many specialist teams of officers from Firearms to Wildlife from Burglary to Murder and Sexual in the fight against crime.
At the very heart of the Service that remains today just as in the 1800′s . . .