Law Enforcement in EM England

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  • Three ways Local communties were responsible for law enforcement in EM England
    • Increasing population was an important factor for changes in Law Enforcement. Traditional methods became less effective and more organised system was put in place where town authorities played a big part and church less
    • Continuity and change in catching criminals
      • People were still expected to raise hue and cry to catch criminals when a crime took place
      • There was no national police force and the methods of effectiveness of preventing crime varied widely across the country
      • However there were changes in roles of town constables and watchmen to try to deal with increased urban crime
    • Changes in roles of the church
      • In  the middle ages,the church provided an alternative justice system through benefit of clergy and sanctuary
        • The Early modern period saw a decline in influence as system became much more secular and church's importance in society decreased
      • Benefit of Clergy
        • Henry VII allowed non clergy "benefit of clergy" and people were branded to see whether they had received the priviledge
          • Edward VI made serious crimes such as murder exempt from the benefit. From 1576 church could only try moral crimes, so everyone including clerics were tried in secular courts
      • Sanctuary
        • Henry VIII stopped exile abroad for those claiming sanctuary. Instead they had to stay. In 1623 James I abolished them altogether
    • Watchmen
      • Carried lamps
      • Rang a bell to alert people
      • All male householders expected to volunteer
      • Patrolled overnight to morning/ overseen by constable
    • Town Constable
      • Employed by town authorites
      • Very respected
      • In charge of watchmen and had power to arrest and take to Justices of peace.


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