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whom, under our existing system of inadequate compensation, he is thrown into such dangerous contact.
Let us consider a few of the cases in which a misunderstood economy in the remuneration of officers may injuriously operate; first, in those where the preventive function, that of mere vigilance, is concerned; and, secondly, in those where their actual authority begins in the apprehension of offenders, upon the commission of crime: in the former there may be an indirect, in the latter a direct, influence. To give to each its illustration; take the most extensive criminal operation of the present day, the forgery of the Bank of England notes. Capitalists and large manufacturers are engaged in their circulation; this paper-commodity is too tempting for human avidity to resist; and numbers seek it from the facility and rapidity with which it promises to realize a large profit. The traffic in forged notes must from these causes, attract many traders, and become a most formidable encroachment on the circulation of the country. The sources of the circulation, viz., the manufacturers, should therefore be the primary objects of discovery and destruction ; but may we not fear, as things are now circumstanced, that to the circulation, and not to the manufacturer, will the officers' vigilance be directed: because, if month after month, session after session, year after year, it be found that the irresistible propensity to the traffic more than keeps pace with its victims, and that, in proportion to their increase such is the increase of profits to those who discover them; must not such a result have a corrupting influence which no power is likely to subdue? Is it, then, improbable that they, who benefit by the workings of this system, should blind themselves to the means of detecting and destroying the sources of their own profit, and that they should also suffer the great channels, through which it flows, to continue their supply to the numerous minor branches which produce to them so rich a harvest. I may be told that the mischief is arrested as quickly as it can be discovered; but can it avail to cut off a few miserable abortions of this noxious race, whilst the parent stock is suffered to exist in full health, vigor, and fecundity; or should our thief-catchers (they must excuse me for the instant) act as our mole-catchers are reported to do, always suffer a few good breeders to remain, in the certainty of being recalled at proper intervals to reap the benefit of their foresight and sagacity?
Again, let us look at the more dexterous and daring class of depredators, who have talent as well as money to contrive and execute their plans. It is known that such persons will
almost exclusively devote themselves for months to the perpetration of a great robbery; for instance, that of stage coaches and other conveyances carrying large sums of money; the plan of these persons being altimately settled, a robbery of this sort is committed; may not here a prospective possibility of interest occur to the mind of an officer? for if any considerable part of the booty be undisposed of, will it not be the feeling and the interest of the sufferer, as well as that of all parties, that the affair be compromised, that the sufferer shall save a great part rather than lose the whole; that the robber should restore a part and escape conviction, and that the officer shall be doubly rewarded for the success of his common agency? Is it the interest of officers, under our present system, to destroy altogether these bold, and possibly profitable contributors to their gains ? Various are the cases of greater or less influence, to show the indirect encouragement to crime to which I have adverted; but if our principle of police apply to one, it must be applicable to all. The immediate direct influence must be more frequent than the former.
Thieves, in their public haunts, are daily under the eyes of our officers; we know their manifold depredations, but how comparatively few are the apprehensions: and from the little pecuniary impulse to the proper discharge of an officer's duty, may not temptation here again seduce him to the breach of it? if a valuable prize be the fruit of a successful and almost open robbery, is it impossible that interest may suggest a similar negociation to that which I have recently described, and the abandonment and participation of the property, upon the same principle of appropriation? Be it observed, that this is general reasoning; but shall a reasoning be rejected in the application to one part of mankind, which is applied to all other parts? When we know our corrupt and corruptible nature; when experience and daily observation show us the charms with which bribery assails and subdues the heart of man, should we not at least guard that class of men who are, of all others the most exposed to it? and are we doing so? But it may be said, Can this be prevented ? If the question be put in the abstract, whether any mode of encouragement or reward can be devised which shall, in its universal operation, make it the officer's interest to trust to the bounty of the public, rather than that of the criminal, in every possible case and contingency; the answer must obviously be, that such a plan cannot be devised. This, however, is not the right question, nor is it the correct view of the sub
VOL. XIX. Pam. NO. XXXVIII. 2 M
ession, a sity to
ject. It is true that neither the Legislature nor the Government can put into the officer's pocket so much as a successful plunderer may in an EXTRAORDINARY case; but the Legislature and the Government may invite to the police, men of the best intelligence in the middling class of society, of unimpeached and unimpeachable integrity; they may, by giving to these persons adequate regular pay, by keeping alive in them a constant expectation of reward as the consequence of a vigilant and successful preventive service, and extending this expectation to the hour of disaster, infirmity, or superannuation, so raise the character, occupations, and objects of an officer's life, as to make it his better lasting interest to trust to the steady permanent provision of a liberal public, than to the casual and perilous participation of guilty acquisition.
I have heard, as a sort of answer to this reasoning, that there are some officers who have realized a very considerable independence; I will not believe it. The opportunities of intercourse which may have occurred to some few with the higher and more wealthy conditions of society, may have fairly afforded them a moderate competence; but that any thing more can be frequent amongst them can be hardly possible, with their pay and legitimate advantages : if I knew that it were so, instead of arguing hypothetically, I should endeavour to expose openly, the foul and guilty abominations to which our system had given birth; but it is enough that the system is open to such objections as we have been just discussing.
One most salutary and important end, to which the suggested improvement of the condition and character of our officers must lead, will infallibly be, to put an end to that indifference with which the violators of the laws, and those who execute them, mutually recognise each other; and to disconnect two classes which ought to be as distinct as virtue is from vice. Then rarely, indeed, even in such cases as have been contemplated, would the tempter risk the temptation ; he would not seek security by the very means which would endanger it; and feeling his security to be lessened after the commission of crime, the crime would be hazarded with more apprehension, and consequently with less frequency; in fine, he could not calculate, as he now probably will, that the band which is meant to seize, may possibly be that to release him.
It will, however, be of little avail to say, that a system is in principle erroneous, and to exhibit an outline of beneficial alteration, unless it can be made to appear, that such alte
ration be practicable. A great increase of the officers of police has been stated to be necessary, but their amount and subsequent distribution cannot be correctly ascertained until the effect of a new action be discovered; therefore, any previous estimate and application of their force must be founded on a general calculation, referrible to the existing state of the metropolis, and the particular calls which its several parts may produce.
Upon this principle a closely-condensed population will require the greatest inspection, and a quantum of force more than in proportion to the geographical extent of the district so circumstanced, inasmuch as such parishes have generally been the most fruitful nurseries of crime. In these, as in all others, the primary object will be to effect the expulsion or correction of their criminal inhabitancy, and afterwards to preserve the districts from future annoyance. But, as those who are driven from one point will naturally fly to another, the appropriation of police must be variable; and the two questions will be, what will probably be called for as a permanent establishment for the whole of a given district, and what number of officers will be primarily requisite for each parish. If we were to assume the instance of Spitalfields as a standard of relative distribution, where 108 special constables, exclusive of the ordinary parochial police, were not more than sufficient to bring that parish into a state of security; two such districts as those within the Worship-street and Marlborough-street jurisdictions, would require a more extensive force than could be reasonably expected. Few parishes, however, are circumstanced as that was at the time alluded to; but taking the large and populous parishes within these two jurisdictions, it will be hardly too much to say, that, as Marlborough-street now has eight, and Worship-street six, effective constables, ten times that number would, in the present state of the town, be more than an adequate protection to their several districts. I ought not to speak of those parts, upon the necessities of which the local knowledge of other magistrates will afford the proper informat
information; but it will be enough to convey a notion of any single division, and to collect from those best acquainted with the subject the means of arriving at a general aggregate. In forming the above estimate, it should be particularly observed, that the two districts to which it refers, contain a population, in London and its environs, of nearly 500,000 persons, and are INFINITELY the largest of any within the range of the police establishment.
In looking to the increase just contemplated, it may be
said, that the law has already provided a force for the several parishes, in the annual choice of constables, with the addition of special constables for extraordinary emergencies; but in point of fact, it has not; the numerical is not the actual effective force, nor can it be expected that it should be so; the constables annually sworn into office are, doubtless, subject to the call of public duty, and to the direction of the high constable when called; but the nominal list of constables does not constitute an effective establishment for the daily and nightly superintendence of the town; and, in several parishes, not a fifth part of those sworn in, take the routine duty of their office. Respectable tradesmen cannot, without detriment to themselves and a sacrifice of comfort, be so engaged; and the consequence is, that the parochial police must be left almost exclusively to those who make it a business and profitable pursuit. The number of these officers is too inconsiderable for the regulation which I have described ; and, besides, this force is subject to all the objections incident to the established police, with this addition, that the parish-officers have stronger motives to seek remuneration from the same questionable sources, inasmuch as they have no regular stipend, and derive their emoluments only from those whose places they supply, and from the incidental services in apprehending offenders. It must also be remembered, that the general has not that efficient control over the parochial police which is necessary to make it available to the public service, under the guidance of the magistrates.
I do not, however, for these reasons, wish to derogate from the usefulness of this body, as an important branch of our municipal administration : though not effective as a regular force, it is, in a constitutional view, entitled to the most sacred preservation. One of the excellencies of our Constitution is, that it enlists so many into the various parts of its administration, as thereby to produce a common interest in its preservation, and from the rotation of its official duties identifies a very large portion of the community in the working of the great machinery of the country. A feeling is thence excited, which facilitates and gives vigor to the laws: a graduation of authority is created through the kingdom; a cooperation is produced, which gives a harmony and unity of action more calculated to attach men to the existing establishments of the country, than any other cause whatever. It is impossible then for any one who rightly appreciates these advantages, to wish to encroach upon this ancient and prescriptive body,