Crime Prevention and Community Policing - Coursework Example

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Policing as we know it and as a system of law enforcement did not begin to evolve until the late 1700's in the UK. Prior to the formalisation of a police system, law and order was based upon the precept of self governance within each individual community…
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Crime Prevention and Community Policing
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Download file to see previous pages We will examine this topic, not just as a mutually exclusive evolutionary process; rather, we will examine it within the social context of the culture of the time in order to understand how law and order and formalised policing have developed.
According to Wall (2002) one of the earliest formalised laws was the Asisze of Clarendon in 1166. This law required all citizens "to report any suspicions about each other to the sheriffs people" (part 1:2). As demonstrated by the vagueness of the above, there was much room for interpretation as to what was considered 'suspicious' behaviour. It becomes easier to see that individual towns and villages had their own set of unwritten codes based on the social mores of the community to which the definition of 'crime' was determined. However, the earliest forms of 'policing' can be traced back to as early as the reign of King Alfred the Great who was monarch between 871 and 901 A.D with his introduction of the 'King's Peace' (Back, 2005). "Acting on the dictum 'What ye will that other men should not do to you, that do ye not to other men', he compiled a series of flexible laws. Basically, in return for being allowed to reign and to expect their unswerving allegiance, he promised them peace and security" (Back, 2005, screen 1).
The early form of 'policing' was known as the Frankpledge or 'Hue and Cry'. The system was introduced by the Anglo-Saxons ("Our history", 2006, screen 1). When villagers came upon someone breaking the law, they would literally shout out, hence the 'hue and cry'. It became every citizen's duty then to give chase and capture the offending party. In these 12th century villages there was not formalised government as we understand it today. Alfred's great-grandson, Edgar, saw the benefit of such a system and made several changes which included dividing the country into shires. Local governance was based on loosely defined units of rule called 'tything'. These tythings were made up of a set of ten families (Back, 2005). Within each community the tything was made up several sets of families where their primary responsibility was to ensure the laws were observed within the village. In effect, "the decision to arrest and take before the court was basically a community decision" (Wall, 2002, part1.2).
Additionally it was the responsibility of the entire community to protect the village from groups or bands of criminals. When the hue and cry went out letting the village know that a gang of outlaws were breaking laws within the village, the men of the village would form a posse comitatus ("Our history", 2006, screen 1). This posse would attempt to track down the offending parties and bring them to justice. The posse consisted of all able bodied men over the age of 12. As the weaponry became more modernised in the Middle Ages (i.e. archery), the age limit for all males required to take part in the posse comitatus was lowered to seven (Back, 2005).
Within the tything, one person was made responsible for taking the law breaker, when captured, before the court to exact their punishment. This person came to be known as a Tythingman. Unlike police in modern society, the Tythingman ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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