• Policing the Great Exhibition in 1851

    The fiasco created by G4S that has resulted in the military and police being called in to ensure security may be a blessing in disguise. This is not the first time that London has seen a large scale event that has had the potential to threaten the peace.

    In 1851, only 22 years after the creation of the Metropolitan Police, London was the host of the Great Exhibition. There was considerable trepidation about an influx of vagrants and foreigners to the Exhibition. The police were increased by 1,000 men and foreign police officers were brought in to identify foreign criminals.

    This was a great opportunity for the ‘new police’ to build on their growing positive reputation and secure legitimacy. In the end the policing of the event proved to be a great triumph for the Metropolitan Police and in the aftermath of the exhibition there was nothing but praise for the ‘new police’.

    According to the Edinburgh Review in 1852 the organisation of the Metropolitan Police was so good that:

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    “People begin to think it quite as a matter of course, or one of the ordinary operations of Providence, that they sleep and wake in safety in the midst of hordes of starving plunderers.”

    (Emsley, 1983: 149)

    From what I have seen and read so far the policing of the Olympics, in terms of relationships with the sports fans, has been very positive. What a contrast from 12 months ago when the police were battling against criminals during inner city disturbances.

    I hope that the fact that police officers from across the nation are working to ensure the safety of Olympic athletes and spectators attracts similar positive media coverage.

    3 Comments

    • 1. Apr 14 2013 11:06AM by Isabelle

      Hi, I know it's unlikely you will respond to this but here goes anyway. I would love to use the Emsley quotation in my A-level history coursework on the Metropolitan Police, would you be able to advise me on which text it has come from? I can't seem to find it on the web. Thanks a lot, Isabelle

    • 2. Apr 14 2013 11:43AM by Andrew

      Hi Isabelle - not sure whether you will get this, but I will Tweet is as well. The coment is from a book called - Emsley, C. (1983) Themes in Comparative History: Policing and Its Context 1750-1870. London. McMillan Press. Let me know if you get this. Hope it helps. Andrew

    • 3. Apr 14 2013 3:37PM by Isabelle

      Hi Andrew, thank you so much for your help! For some reason I couldn't find anything by Emsley published in 1983 on the web so this is really helpful. Isabelle

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