Crime and PunishmentSir John Fielding Return to the main page
Case Study 1 - How did Sir John Fielding try to prevent crime in London? Task Glossary
   
  London was by far the biggest city in Britain: in 1750 its population was c650,000 and rising fast. The city obviously posed very different crime problems from anywhere else. This unique situation was analysed by Henry Fielding, the novelist, who became chief magistrate at Bow Street in 1748. Henry Fielding blamed the high crime rate on the breakdown of family and community life among people who flocked to London seeking an easy living. He also blamed government corruption.
When Henry Fielding died in 1754 he was succeeded by his half-brother, Sir John Fielding. He was Chief Magistrate at Bow Street until 1780 and so became very familiar with London crime. Although he was blind, he was said to be able to recognise 3,000 London criminals by their voices alone.
Sir John reorganised Bow Street like a police station, with a team of efficient, paid constables, the "Bow Street Runners". He put forward several ideas for dealing with crime in London, most of which the government ignored at the time, although they were taken up later. He did persuade the government to pay him occasional one-off grants. How he spent the money can be discovered in the Sources.
 
Case Study 1  Sources
 
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