Hirschfield, Alex, Armitage, Rachel, Ekblom, Paul and Roach, Jason (2013) Holding the line: The sustainability of police involvement in crime prevention. In: The Future of Policing. Routledge, London, UK, pp. 299-316. ISBN 9780415821629
Abstract

The opening lines of the handbook issued by Sir Robert Peel to all officers of the Metropolitan Police in 1829, were these:
‘It should be understood at the outset that the object to be attained is the prevention of crime. To this great end every effort of the police is to be directed. The security of person and property, the preservation of the public tranquility, and all the other objects of a police establishment will thus be better effected than by the detection and punishment of the offender after he has succeeded in committing the crime.’ Quoted in Reith (1948:62). Mayne, one of the first two Commissioners, added this principle: ‘To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.’ Quoted in Boyd (2012). What exactly they meant by prevention is open to interpretation, and whether this was just a ruse to help convince a suspicious public that in England ‘continental’ methods of repression would not be adopted is not clear. But by the late 19th Century the reactive approach of catching criminals or ‘feeling collars’ had come to predominate; and in the 20th, the politically-significant rhetoric of ‘fighting crime’ achieved consensual hegemony, delivered huge resources to policing over the years and of course powerfully shaped the policing organisation. It was not until the 1960s that the first signs of resurgence of an explicit, practical, preventive role were seen.

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