Among the treasures of the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection are a number of unpublished and unofficial documents concerning the routine day-to-day aspects of policing. For many people, the word 'policing' conjures up a host of thrilling images, such as 'crime fighting', 'law and order', and 'stop and search'. Yet as we shall see, for the men in blue who pounded the path of the precisely defined beat at the regulation 2½ miles an hour, warily keeping a lookout for the sergeant, policing was a job with mundane tasks not unlike other occupations.

Some Initial Questions

Police Officers are not automatically considered as 'workers'. At the outset of this module it will be useful for you to make a list of some of the issues that are usually associated with those labelled 'workers' in the press or in history books. After that, make a list of the things that might be automatically associated with the job of police officer.

Some Initial Answers

Lists of this sort are, of course, subjective. But that said, it is possible that a list of things usually associated with a worker would include:

  • pay and conditions;
  • a suspicion of superiors;
  • avoiding clashes with superiors.

With particular reference to the job of a police officer, however, you might have noted aspects of the trade such as the uniform, the daily threat of violence, and having thoughts, feelings and prejudices structured and confirmed by working face-to-face with the public. These questions and answers will be explored in this teaching module.


After working through the module you should have acquired:

  1. an understanding of the kinds of men who joined the police force;
  2. an appreciation of the various factors that structured policing as an occupation; and
  3. a view of police officers not just as a sea of men and women in blue, but as individuals whose primary concern was to perform the job that they were paid to carry out with a minimum of fuss.



William Edward Pearce 1853-1883 William Edward Pearce 1853-1883