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Policing MoralsThe Metropolitan Police and the Home Office 1870–1914$
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Stefan Petrow

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198201656

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198201656.001.0001

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(p.294) Conclusion
Policing Morals

Stefan Petrow

Oxford University Press

In the mid-18th century, John Stuart Mill warned of the possible adverse effects of unrestrained police powers on liberty. However, his warning was left unheard. By 1914, the powers of the Metropolitan Police under the direction of the Home Office flourished and grew. They imposed anarchic restrictions that suppressed society, most of which belonging to the lower strata. The restriction and the cumulative impact of police powers were both a nightmare and a failure. Instead of curbing the immoral and criminal ways of society particularly the lower classes, the oppressive restrictions created a more antagonistic society which led to the exercise of underground crimes which the hands of the Metropolitan Police could hardly penetrate. The failure of the police as well as their enormous power prompted moral reformers to call for prevention and moral instruction rather than punishment as solution to immorality. The drawbacks and setbacks of the role of the police and their oppressive power as well led to a vigilant and watchful society which safeguarded liberty and freedom to which the societies of today are greatly indebted to.

Keywords:   Metropolitan Police, Home Office, anarchic restrictions, punishment, prevention, liberty, immorality, police powers

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