Scandal at Scotland Yard

In an older post I blogged about a policing scandal that led to the establishment of an official detective unit within the Metropolitan Police in 1842. Today, I thought I’d write about another policing scandal, called the Turf Fraud Scandal or the Trial of the Detectives. The fraud led to two trials in 1877 and…

The Real PIs of Victorian London

After a month’s hiatus from the blogosphere/Twitterverse I have returned to the land of the living with a little post about private investigators (or PIs). I came across private investigators during the early stages of my research. They were one of the groups who popped up among the (many) results of my keyword search for…

The Birth of Detectives in the Met

As my previous post on European police suggested, many Britons equated centralized policing with government tyranny and espionage. To avoid such criticisms, when the Metropolitan Police was established in 1829 there was no detective branch.[1] The police commissioners and the Home Office felt that it would be better to make the prevention of crime the…

Worn Out: The Physical Price of Police Work

I’ve been too sick today to do any proper research, so thought I’d write about detectives who were forced to retire because of disease or infirmity. My illness will not, of course, lead to my retirement (one needs a job for that) but I thought it would be a fun subject for a blog post.…

European Police in the English Imagination

Lately, I’ve been reading about European police agencies to better understand nineteenth-century English prejudices against continental policing. By far the most prominent criticism made against European governments was that they spied on their citizens. Although the English recognized that such tactics could be effective, political policing remained anathema to British sensibilities. The well-trodden statement of…

Who is a detective?: A Lesson in Keyword Searching

One of the difficult things about studying detectives is that they can be difficult to define. What is a detective? Is it someone who does what we in the 21st century would call ‘detective work’? Is it someone who self-identifies as a one? Or is it someone who is officially labelled a detective? As I…