A Conspicuous Constabulary: or, Why Policemen Wear Tall Helmets

  • Heather Worthington
Part of the Crime Files Series book series (CF)


The police are noticeably absent from the criminography of the 1820s and early 1830s. A conspicuous constabulary they certainly were in terms of their physical presence on the streets of London; but in the contemporary literature they were conspicuous rather by their absence, existing at best as marginal figures. This can in part be explained by the fact that a police force in the modern sense did not come into being until 1829, when the New Metropolitan Police Force was inaugurated. There had been representatives of policing before this time, most notably the Bow Street Runners, who were equally under-represented in literature. Where policing of any kind appeared in periodicals and books it was invariably denigrated, despised or dismissed. Yet, by 1850, not only the preventive police, but also the relatively new detective police force, were being written about and positively celebrated in fact and fiction by, among others, an author as well-known and respected as Charles Dickens. I intend here to analyse this reversal in public opinion from opprobrium to approbation of the police with reference to the popular literature of the time.


Police Officer Police Force Police Presence Police Constable Police Detective 
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Copyright information

© Heather Worthington 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather Worthington
    • 1
  1. 1.Cardiff UniversityUK

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