Policing Western Europe: Politics, Professionalism, and Public Order, 1850-1940

By Clive Emsley; Barbara Weinberger | Go to book overview

talitarian regimes, have ever commanded the resources or, indeed, had the ability to uncover and repress crime any more systematically. This is partly due to the fact that this repression itself might create offences--and hostility to the police--which would have the effect of further stretching their available resources. In these countries, too, it is suggested that on a day-to-day basis the police must be forced to come to terms with public tolerance.

In seeking to construct a comparative history of policing, the key to understanding national differences lies in a recognition of the particular balance of class relations and the ideological context within which that level of tolerance is determined. In 'liberal' England and France, smooth policing after 1850 depended upon the extremely 'illiberal' repression of perceived marginal groups. When at the end of the nineteenth century, the state in both countries used the police more widely against the organised working class, whose strikes at a time of intense international rivalry and increasing socialist influence were perceived as a national threat. The result was a level of violence and hostility to the police which had previously only been experienced among the casual poor in the rookeries. This group had, of course, been experiencing similarly interventionist policing for some time and with similar results. In both countries, the police were unable to cope and the army had to be called in. The state had breached the boundaries of public tolerance, which, in the last half of the century, the police had not only helped to create but had also been forced to live by.


Notes
1.
J. J. Brochier, "Prison Talk: An Interview with Michel Foucault," Radical Philosophy, 16 (Spring 1977): 10.
2.
Louis Chevalier, Labouring Clauses and Dangerous Classes in Paris During the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, London, 1973, 5, 10.
3.
Ibid., 77; J. Kay Shuttleworth, "The Moral Condition of the Working Classes of Manchester in 1832," in: T. Thelfsen, ed., Sir James Shuttleworth on Popular Education, London, 1974, 78.
4.
See: inter-alia, John Field, "Police, Power and Community in a Provincial English Town: Portsmouth, 1815-1875," and Barbara Weinberger , "The Police and the Public in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Warwickshire," both in Victor Bailey, ed., Policing and Punishmentin Nineteenth-Century Britain

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