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NCJ Number: 158303 Find in a Library
Title: Political Economy of Thief-Taking
Journal: Crime, Law and Social Change  Volume:23  Issue:2  Dated:(1995)  Pages:121-146
Author(s): J L McMullan
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 26
Sponsoring Agency: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1P 6G4, Canada
Grant Number: 410-93-1290
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: The sociology and history of policing in London, England, during the 1650-1750 period is reviewed, particularly with respect to early commercial strategies in informing for profit, spying, thief taking, and crime control.
Abstract: The so-called "horrible business in blood" was a deliberately tolerated and shielded commerce that linked London's crime underworld, the private trade in police services, and the administration of criminal justice into a mutual toleration and protection society. Social protection and security were part of an explicit contractual arrangement between interested parties. Conditions of police production under thief takers, however, remained primarily in the hands of service suppliers. The coordination of market practices and policing powers was undertaken outside the direct control of buyers, despite their collective wealth and growing influence. Considerable anarchy prevailed in the production of private policing services, and it was difficult to harness sellers into a service that functioned for a wider collective interest. Thief taking was unable to integrate opportunities for gain within a coherent administrative structure. Criminal intelligence advertising, information collection and retrieval, and surveillance were particularistic and intermittent. Further, intelligence gathering and circulation lacked an institutional center. Crime surveillance was markedly diffused and more dependent on market fluctuations than on social policies. The market in thief taking underwent some degree of regulation and internal coordination, but it was still weakly monitored and managed. Thief taking enterprises tended to be dispersed and discrete, and businesses were autonomous agencies rather than part of a coherent crime control strategy. 99 references
Main Term(s): Foreign police
Index Term(s): Commercial fraud; Crime in foreign countries; England; Foreign crime prevention; History of policing; Informants; Information collection; Intelligence acquisition; Theft offenses
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