14 October 2015 - WHY ARE BRITISH POLICE CALLED BOBBIES?
WHY ARE BRITISH POLICE
Ever been to the UK and spoken to a policeman? I have. They are called Bobbies, but do you know why? Read on ....
The concept of
modern policing has its roots in pre-Victorian England, when the British home
minister, Sir Robert Peel (1778-1850), oversaw the creation of London’s first
organized police force. Before Peel’s 1829 reforms, public order had been
maintained by a mix of night watchmen, local constables and red-coat-wearing
army soldiers, who were deployed as much to quell political troubles as to deal
with local crime.
London’s Metropolitan Police (headquartered on a short street called Scotland
Yard), Peel sought to create a professionalized law enforcement corps that was
as accountable to everyday citizens as to the ruling classes. When Peel’s
opponents complained that the creation of the new police force would restrict
personal liberties, Peel responded, “I want to teach people that liberty does
not consist in having your house robbed by organized gangs of thieves, and in
leaving the principal streets of London in the nightly possession of drunken women
Instead of the
resented red coats, Peel’s patrolmen wore black jackets and tall wool hats with
shiny badges. They went out armed only with a short club and a whistle for
summoning backup, walking regular beats and working to gain the trust of the
local citizens. Robert Peel’s system was a success, and by the mid-19th century
large American cities had created similar police forces. In London, the
policemen were so identified with the politician who created them that they
were referred to as “Peelers” or—more memorably—“Bobbies,” after the popular
nickname for Robert.