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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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On the Streets

On the Streets

(p.129) 5 On the Streets
Policing Morals

Stefan Petrow

Oxford University Press

In the 1850s, street prostitution was rapidly increasing; it was one of the problems that hindered the successful control of all urban public spaces by the police. Prostitution was prevalent in London and owing to their high visibility, street prostitutes attracted the attention of the public and the police. However, the police regarded policing street prostitution as insignificant, often diverting to more important types of work. This chapter focuses on street prostitution and the flaws that affected the legislation and the implementation of laws regarding prostitution. The chapter also tackles the brewing doubt and reservations of the magistrates in the honesty of the Metropolitan Police which resulted in the tentative and weak policing powers for street prostitution. However insistent demands by puritan and moral reformers forced the Metropolitan Police to create an unofficial regulation of prostitutes by prohibiting where, when, and how they could carry their trade. These regulations were carried out amidst the impossibility of total suppression and the absence of state control. From 1901 to 1914, the Metropolitan Police and moralists created an image of street prostitution as a dangerous and unattractive career, but nonetheless, it flourished and thrived.

Keywords:   street prostitution, magistrates, prostitution, prostitutes, Metropolitan Police, regulation, policing street prostitution

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