Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Police signifies (1) the judicial and executive functions of a society, and (2) an organised body formed with the object of preserving the public peace. The general features of the first of these characters are much the same in all civilised societies, but in details they differ much. Under Augustus the preservation of public peace within the city was in the hands of the prcvfectus urbi. In the palmy days of the French monarchy - for instance, under Louis XIV. - the police depended for its efficiency upon an elaborate system of espionage. The present head of the police in France is the Minister of the Interior, to whom the prefets and maires, assisted by a huge body of commissaires and subordinates, are responsible. Under our ancient Saxon system the land was divided into hundreds, which were subdivided into tythings, and each division was responsible to that above it for the efficiency of its police arrangements. This system was supplemented by the institution of sheriffs, deputies, and a parish constabulary - an arrangement that lasted almost into our own time. In 1829 Sir Robert Peel introduced the modern metropolitan system with which we are all familiar, and in 1839 counties were authorised, and in 1856 compelled, to adopt a similar system. In Scotland corresponding changes were introduced in 1833 and 1850, and a rural police in 1857. Ireland has been treated as an exceptional country, and its public peace has long been in the hands of a semi-military bod}r, the Royal Irish Constabulary. The United States, in the general features of their police arrangements, have followed the mother country. Police forces exist in the cities, but in the country districts the arrangements are often at a much earlier stage of development than in England to-day.