Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis

A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis

Full Title

A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis. Containing a Detail of the Various Crimes and Misdemeanors by Which Public and Private Property and Security Are, at Present, Injured and Endangered, and Suggesting Remedies for their Prevention.

Details of the Book

  • Author: Patrick Colquhoun
  • Publisher: Cambridge Library Collection
  • Date of Publication (new print): 16/02/2012
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: ISBN-10 1108043925 and ISBN-13 9781108043922
  • Series: Title Cambridge Library Collection – British and Irish History, 17th and 18th Centuries
  • Country of Publication: United Kingdom

About the Author

Patrick Colquhoun (1745-1820) was one of the founders, in 1798, of the Thames River Police. Initially a merchant based in Glasgow, he later moved to London and was appointed as a magistrate in the East End. In 1796, he published (anonymously) a report on the types of crime in the capital, and the need for regulation of the behaviour of the inhabitants to suppress it. The work examines the different categories of crime in London, such as illegal trading in the docks, fraud, burglary, and robbery. Later chapters discuss the issue of punishment as well as the changes Colquhoun believed were required in the existing police force. In this 1797 fourth edition – one of six later editions that were published by 1799 – Colquhoun added a lengthy exposition on gambling. Although many of his measures were considered unworkable, Colquhoun’s ideas played an important part in the development of modern policing.

Contents of the Book

To the reader; Advertisement to the fourth edition; Introduction. Containing a general view of the evils arising from the imperfections of the criminal code, and the deficiencies in the general system of police, explained under nine different heads;

  • The prominent causes of the increase of crimes considered. Propositions for improving public houses. An estimate of the depredations on public and private property, committed in the metropolis and its vicinity, calculated to amount to two millions one hundred thousand pounds sterling in the course of a year; (see more books about British law here)
  • The cause and progress of small thefts explained, and shewn to arise from the vast number of receivers in the metropolis. Their great increase of late years, and evil tendency. Remedies suggested;
  • The vast extent of property laden and unladen in the Port of London, in the course of a year. The pillage and plunder of merchandize and naval stores upon the wharfs and quays, and from ships and vessels in the River Thames explained. The facilities afforded by receivers of stolen goods, in connection with these plunderers. Remedies proposed;
  • Reflections on the causes of the prevailing abuses, frauds, plunder, and pillage, in the public arsenals, and in ships of war and transports. The means of improving the laws. The existing abuses analized. Remedies proposed and explained;
  • On the perpetration of the more atrocious offences of burglary and highway robbery. The different classes of delinquents engaged in these offences. The means used to accomplish their purposes. Remedies suggested for the purpose of detection and prevention;
  • On the coinage and circulation of base money. The process in coining each species of counterfeit money explained. The extensive trade in sending base coin to the country. Its universal circulation in the metropolis. Foreign money also counterfeited. The vast extent of the evil. The defects in the present laws explained. Remedies proposed;
  • On the subject of forgeries, frauds, and the offences of cheating, swindling, and gambling. The evils arising from these practices in the metropolis, and also from the lottery, etc. elucidated and explained, and various remedies suggested;
  • Relative to receivers of stolen goods in general. Their evil tendency as the nourishers and supporters of thieves. Their increase attributed to the imperfection of the laws. Their modes of dealing explained. Their profit immense. The laws relative to receivers reviewed. Amendments in them proposed, and remedies suggested;
  • On the means of detecting offenders. The utility of officers of justice as safeguards to the community. Their powers explained. Rewards granted in certain cases on the conviction of offenders. 1000 peace officers and 2044 watchmen and patroles in the metropolis. A general view of the magistracy. The great inconvenience of the present system. Remedies proposed;(see more books about British law here)
  • Crimes and punishments in general. General reflection on the nature and effect of different degrees of punishment. The utility of rendering the laws perfect, so as to operate as a means of preventing crimes. General rules suggested for attaining this object, illustrated by various observations on the criminal code. A review of the various offences and punishments, exhibiting the unnecessary severity of the laws, and their imperfections with regard to punishments. The new code of the Emperor Joseph, shortly detailed. Concluding reflections;
  • On punishments. The mode authorised by the ancient and modern laws. A detail of the various crimes punished by the laws of England. The evil tendency of pardons explained. Death. The hulks. Transportation. Penitentiary houses. Various improvements suggested with regard to the mode of punishment, with an immediate view to the prevention of crimes;
  • The police of the metropolis considered and explained.