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Title: Policing and Police Reform in a Rural County; Somerset c.1830-1856
Authors: Love, Robert George
Supervisors: Hurren, Elizabeth
King, Peter
Award date: 27-Jun-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This thesis examines the development of policing across the county of Somerset, from the appointment of parish constables to the establishment of a county police, circa 1830 to 1856. It will answer three core research questions. Firstly, what was the state of crime in the county through the first half of the nineteenth century, and how was it perceived by the Quarter Sessions and vestries? Secondly, what were the existing policing arrangements in the towns and rural areas of the county and how satisfactory were these felt to be? Thirdly, what was the political journey taken by Quarter Sessions, from initial outright rejection of the Rural Constabulary Act [1839] to its ultimate acceptance in 1856? This thesis builds upon the existing historiography of criminal justice by providing insights into policing before its reform in 1856, and does so in the context of a rural county never studied before. Although ostensibly quiet and agricultural, the county was in fact a diverse mix of geographical environments and communities, each of which had its own needs and approached those needs in its own way. This thesis seeks to enhance our historical understanding of the men who filled the role of constable, and provide a detailed study of the ways in which rural areas interpreted changing national legislation to suit local circumstances. It will thus increase knowledge and understanding of the development of policing in English provincial towns and rural parishes before 1856. Finally, this thesis will test the validity of what may be termed the ‘grand narrative’ explanations of policing development in criminal justice histories of the period. It will conclude that, whilst these concepts may have applicability in particular socio-economic situations, they cannot be broadly applied to a culturally and economically diverse region such as the county of Somerset.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, School of Historical Studies

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