When the ‘New Police’, essentially the modern English police force, were formed in London in 1829, soon to be paralleled in American cities, much stress was laid on the fact that they were to be ‘preventive’: they were not to be undercover, plain-clothes detectives — or spies, as popular opinion would have it. As Kayman explains (1992: 61–80), the New Police were to be highly visible — especially with their tall helmets and quasi-military uniforms: the idea was that they would walk about the city and act as visible indicators of the power of the state, a constant threat to wrongdoers that they would be apprehended and punished. A reform project as they were, and a public body of skilled men as they were meant to be, they were nevertheless in a major way a continuation of sovereign power — now delegated through commissioners and inspectors, but for all that a living visible arm of the national law.
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