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Police control systems in Britain, 1775–1975From parish constable to national computer$
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Chris A. Williams

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719084294

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719084294.001.0001

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Time, bureaucracy and the new policeman1830–1930

Time, bureaucracy and the new policeman1830–1930

(p.85) 4 Time, bureaucracy and the new policeman1830–1930
Police control systems in Britain, 1775–1975

Chris A. Williams

Manchester University Press

New police forces employed a variety of bureaucratic forms in order to function. These closely followed Weber's ideal type. Information and its flow were and are central to policing, and these require filters and standard procedures whereby knowledge of the outside world was necessarily simplified in order to be processable. Many of these components formed ‘black-boxes’ (in Latour's sense) within the system. Books of various kinds recorded activity, and forms acted as means of communication. Policemens’ notebooks became ubiquitous by 1900: they were intended to act primarily as a technology for controlling the police officer. All we constructed to be transparent to future audit by superior officers. Within the Metropolitan Police, daily orders distributed to the whole force made the leadership of Scotland Yard in all matters completely transparent. Police used up-to-date office techniques, some of which were borrowed from military precedents, notably the Royal Engineers. Many senior police officers who rose to command from ‘the ranks’ did so after service as clerks.

Keywords:   History, Policing, bureaucracy, forms, audit, black-boxing, Bruno Latour, JoAnne Yates, clerks, officer class

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