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The great British bobby: a history of British policing from the 18th century to the present

The great British bobby: a history of British policing from the 18th century to the present

Emsley, Clive

Emsley traces the development of Britain's forces of law and order from the early watchmen to the technological police services of today. He examines in detail the Police Acts of 1839, the introduction of women police officers and the Macpherson report of 1999 into the death of Stephen Lawrence

Hardback, Book. English.
Published London: Quercus, 2009
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Available: Newton Park

  • Newton Park – One available in Main Collection 363.20941/EMS

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    00293299 Main Collection 363.20941/EMS Standard Available


Statement of responsibility: Clive Emsley
ISBN: 1847249477, 9781847249470
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: xii, 324 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., ports. ; 25 cm.
Subject: Police Great Britain History.; Police; Great Britain


  1. Acknowledgements.
  2. List of illustrations.
  3. Introduction.
  4. Policing Georgian Liberty.
  5. The First Bobbies, 1829-1860.
  6. Country Cousins: Policing outside London, 1839-1860.
  7. Further Afield: A United Kingdom, an Empire and Two Models.
  8. 'An Institution Rather than a Man': The Victorian Police Officer, 1860-1880.
  9. Hard Men and Harder Coppers: Bobby on the Front Line, 1860-1914.
  10. War, Women and Wages: Policing the Home Front, 1914-1918.
  11. Good Cop, Bad Cop: Bobby Between the Wars, 1919-1939.
  12. A New War, A New World, 1939-1970.
  13. Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same.
  14. Appendix: Timeline of main legislative and institutional changes.
  15. Abbreviations in the notes.
  16. Notes.
  17. Index.

Author note

Clive Emsley is co-director of the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research at the Open University and president of the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice.


'Exhaustively researched account . fascinating' Brian Paddick, Guardian.


'Informative jaunt through the history of the modern bobby . worth reading' Daily Telegraph.


'The doyen of police history has produced a well-informed, thoughtful account of British policing over 200 years that is a pleasure to read . deserves to be read by historians, criminologists and the general public alike' BBC History magazine.


'In his main ambition Emsley succeeds brilliantly. He sets out to put the individual police officer, particularly, the constable, centre stage. The Great British Bobby is a signally well-peopled history from below, almost a collective biography . lively, enjoyable and hugely knowledgeable . it deserves, and will surely get, a very wide audience indeed.' Times Literary Supplement.


'This is a book that has needed to be written for some time .. His research and sources are meticulous' Police History Society Newsletter.