ABSTRACT

Between 1829 and 1856 the official agents of law enforcement were changed from part-time, amateur officials, such as the constable, to full-time, professional, bureaucratic police forces. But in England, as elsewhere, the means of law enforcement were not restricted to those sponsored by the state. The lower classes had their own way of chastising unacceptable behaviour, even if the code of behaviour they were enforcing was not that of statute law.1 The propertied, while subscribing to the written law, did not leave its enforcement entirely to the state. In literally hundreds of villages, towns, parishes, in virtually every part of the country, they created Associations for the Prosecution of Felons.