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  • Perceptions of British policing

    I am a serving British police officer and I am currently writing a book about Policing in Britain, focussing on public attitudes to Policing and how Policing itself has developed in the last two hundred years. It is purely for my own entertainment but I am trying to ensure that it is accurate and well researched whilst hopefully not being too dull.

    I am hoping for responses to two questions.

    The first is a response, whether long or short, to the question: "What is your perception of British police officers?" This can either be drawn from working with British officers or from what you have read or seen on TV and in movies. Since I am interested in perception, I am interested in both. Your perception does not have to be complimentary - I'm pretty thick skinned and I won't take it personally. Also, I recognise that it is a very broad question - however you interpret it, that's the response I'm interested in.

    The second question is aimed at people who are interested in the history of policing in their own countries. It is: "What police forces or other public law enforcement bodies are you aware of whose officers were initially unarmed but which transitioned to routinely arming them?" For the avoidance of doubt, by "unarmed" I mean not routinely carrying a firearm. An explanation as to why the transition was made would also be extremely helpful.

    Any answers, gratefully received. I will also post this in International Policing - apologies if that is contrary to any site rules.

    I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

  • #2
    Don’t quote me, but I believe that the NYPD, which was originally modeled after your Metropolitan Police, was initially unarmed. We’re talking 1850’s or so.

    I know they weren’t routinely issued a revolver for some time, however officers frequently carried one if they personally owned one. They had a lot of violent crime, riots, drunken Irish fresh off the boat to deal with, and I’m sure any number of problems causing a need for a pistol.

    It’s also of historical interest, that most uniformed police officers of the day didn’t carry a pistol openly. Many carried a small pocket pistol under their uniform coat. In fact my own agency often prides itself as being one of the first large agencies to adopt the “new idea” of open carry as a means of deterring a violent encounter.
    I make my living on Irish welfare.

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    • #3
      Officers on the East Coast were routinely unarmed, or carried a small personally owned firearm. Firearms manufacturers such as Colt made pocket pistols specifically for police use, but officers pretty much carried on their own instead of as a directive from their department. In a landmark case (sorry, I don't recall the case) from NY in the 1800's a police officer who was armed with his own pistol shot and killed a criminal. He was tried for the shooting death and the jury found that it was reasonable for a police officer to use deadly force against another based on the circumstances. This case law opened up the floodgates and established the legality of police officers being armed, and being able to use deadly force in the performance of their duties.

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      • #4
        Thank you both. I have read something along these lines about the US but truthfully, have more than had more work cut out ploughing through the British historical stuff.
        I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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        • #5
          I have the impression that British Police are more respected by the public (usually) than those in the US. They don't carry firearms, with the rare exception. You have to be a serious bada## to do this job without a firearm.

          Cool uniforms. More prepared for Terrorist response than most US depts.

          They drive on the wrong side of the road.

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          • #6
            British Police? I have always been impressed with their professionalism, good camaraderie attitude when approached by fellow US LEO in public.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Zeitgeist1 View Post
              Cool uniforms
              Really? Do you mean the Custodian helmet and the dark blue woollen tunic (which I still have in my wardrobe but very much doubt I would fit) or the modern stuff?

              They drive on the wrong side of the road.
              Left is right.

              I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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              • Zeitgeist1
                Zeitgeist1 commented
                Editing a comment
                The Custodian helmet and dark tunic. It's the tradition of it somehow.

            • #8
              One other thing. I would 1000X rather deal with drunken US football fans than drunken Brit. football fans (aka soccer). Props to the Police that have to deal with that in jolly ole England.

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              • #9
                Originally posted by Zeitgeist1 View Post
                One other thing. I would 1000X rather deal with drunken US football fans than drunken Brit. football fans (aka soccer). Props to the Police that have to deal with that in jolly ole England.
                I've got to be honest. I have a very negative view of soccer. Elvis's Dad famously commented that he never knew a guitar player worth a damn. I've got to say agree with that sentiment when it comes to professional footballers I have come across. I love how the fans idolise them despite the fact that they would cheerfully trample their children's faces wearing studded boots to get to a better contract. The fact that the fans have to be moved to and from the stadiums surrounded by Police so that they do not attack other human beings says all you need to know about them. Bunch of tossers.

                I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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                • #10
                  I happened to watch a documentary or "reality" TV show about police in England several years ago. Besides the tiny patrol cars and no sidearms, the only other thing that stood out was them calling the subjects "blokes." It was used a LOT.

                  Other than the "bloke" impersonating paramedics and the pronoun "bloke" I don't remember much else about that show.

                  Do y'all really use "bloke" that much? I know what it means now but then I assumed it meant [email protected], suspect, subject and or the like.

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                  • #11
                    Originally posted by westside popo View Post
                    Do y'all really use "bloke" that much? I know what it means now but then I assumed it meant [email protected], suspect, subject and or the like.
                    "Bloke" is, in my experience anyway, a little old-fashioned. It means nothing more, nothing less, than a "guy" or "fella", just a way of describing a male adult. It isn't rude in any way. English English isn't short of ways to be rude be people but bloke isn't an example. And the patrol cars are tiny.

                    I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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                    • #12
                      Nothing personally directed towards you, or to try and start a fight, but after the "hate speech" laws, Rotherham and other huge scandals involving several thousand sex trafficking victims, most of which were ignored, some who were threatened, arrested, or even raped by the police when they reported the crimes...

                      I have vacationed in a fairly repressive dictatorship where my father-in-law is a police political commissar. They still make far fewer arrests for social media posts, and sex crimes/human trafficking are properly investigated (the perpetrators generally being put to death). And until 2014, they were also unarmed.

                      Sorry, but I can't say I hold British law enforcement in particularly high regard.

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                      • #13
                        My perception is that in the metro areas your armed response units will out number your unarmed units. In the country it is probably reversed. American policing is moving in the direction of unarmed response. We call them Community Service Officers and largely they are not sworn cops but handle a lot. In many areas they are dispatched to handle everything but serious/in progress violent crime.

                        I work in California. Everything officially started in 1850. Everyone had/got guns and badges at the start.
                        semper destravit

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                        • #14
                          All I know is what I have seen in the documentary on British policing called Hot Fuzz. Seems like a cool gig.

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                          • RGDS
                            RGDS commented
                            Editing a comment
                            That was a documentary?!‽ I thought that was like LivePD!!!!

                        • #15
                          Originally posted by emtguy89 View Post
                          Rotherham and other huge scandals involving several thousand sex trafficking victims, most of which were ignored, some who were threatened, arrested, or even raped by the police when they reported the crimes...
                          I'm aware, obviously, of the case, but I am unaware of any allegation that victims were raped by Police. Still, every day is a school day, what's your source of information on that?

                          I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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