It is essential to note that professional policing in the sense as it is understood today came into existence in France, during the 17th and 18th century when King Louis XIV created a force to enforce law and order in Paris. It was the largest city in Europe at that time, and equally dangerous to live in. In 1829, the first uniformed policemen in the world came into being in Paris and other French cities, named sergeants de Ville or "city sergeants". London had its own force of watchmen in 1798, entrusted with protecting merchandise at the Port of London, called the “ Marine Police. ” Their name belied the nature of the duties involved.
Policing responsibilities evolved over time from the protection of people and goods towards the role of a ‘ helping profession. ’ The 1940s and 1950s were known as the “ golden age” of police. Consensus policing became the watchword and the police were able to maintain order, check crime effectively, and create a good image for themselves in the eyes of the public. “ Agencies of community cohesion like churches, trade unions and housing associations” played an important role in achieving these, with much of the deterrence and visibility provided by non-police “ agents of social enforcement” like park-keepers, caretakers and bus conductors.
The police, however, got most of the credit. These ‘ agents of social enforcement’ are considered the predecessors of today’ s Police Community Support Officers. These ‘ Agencies of community cohesion’ and non-police “ agents of social enforcement” subsequently waned in their influence. Wider social and cultural processes marginalised them and made them more or less irrelevant. People lost faith in the ability to get stable employment, the institution of family and their belief in the ultimate fairness of the social order, making these representatives of such values irrelevant.
Anti-social behaviour, crime and terrorism assumed more dangerous dimensions and created fears that forced the police to actually deliver what they were believed to be doing all along. Symbolic policing was totally different from delivering the results of policing and they were ill-equipped to do it. Community Policing made its appearance in such a situation. Much confusion emerged as perceptions differed among different people.
The key principles, applicable to all police activities, however, remain the same. They are service delivery, partnership, problem-solving, empowerment and accountability.
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