The police are servants of the community, at least in theory. The bluecoated bobby on his beat is a visual embodiment of the due processes of the law, applied fairly and without favour. The eighteenth-century equivalent was the dread image of the hanging ju4ge, slouched on the bench, red-robed, white-wigged, and capped with the black coif. On one hand, crime is prevented by the 'irrational' deterrents of terror, muted by mercy; on the other by the certain and bureaucratic apprehension and punishment of offenders. 1 The ways that a 'policed society' came to be seen as desirable, and ultimately necessary, have been described often enough for the main outline to be clear. Traditional modes of discipline - paternal benevolence, punitive deterrence - were decreasingly effective in those growing industrial areas where, in Thomas Chalmers' words, 'the poor and wealthy stand more disjoined from each other'? Specific and local policing operations, carried out by nightwatchmen, volunteer yeomanry or felons associations, were appropriate only to 'unpoliced, hierarchical, pre-industrial society' .3

Enormously unpopular, introduced during talk of rebellion and acts of political reform, the bobby came to be depicted as the thin blue line defending the community from unspeakable chaos. 5 Today we find it hard to imagine a world without him.6