Scotland Yard: A Study of the Metropolitan Police

Scotland Yard: A Study of the Metropolitan Police

Scotland Yard: A Study of the Metropolitan Police

Scotland Yard: A Study of the Metropolitan Police

Excerpt

This book is the result of eight months spent daily -- and often nightly -- in the company of various members of the Metropolitan Police as they went about their work. Originally it was intended that it should explain, in general terms, the mechanics of a policeman's life in London, but when I came to write it I discovered what seemed an insuperable difficulty. The problem is that of the 'discretion' which policemen exercise.

There is an enormous difference between what the law allows an English policeman to do, and what, in a given set of circumstances, he actually does. It is common in the daily practice of any government agency to stay within the limits of its powers, but never perhaps as strikingly as in the police. Here the theoretical code bears little relation to the practical code. If the police wanted to -- and if there were enough of them -- they could find reasons to exercise their powers on everyone every day. They could stop and search people en masse in the street, they could search houses, they could arrest and prosecute thousands of drivers for traffic offences and so on.

As a result they would be impossibly overworked and hopelessly unpopular, but in law they could. The difficulty in understanding the police is to understand when and why they do not use the ample powers which they possess.

Given moderate intelligence and the will to learn, these powers can be mastered in four months or so. This is the time taken to complete the Metropolitan Police basic training . . .

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