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There was considerable
opposition to the setting up of the police -see Case-Studies
1 and 2. There was hostility to them in the street and cartoons
mocking them in newspapers. Such opposition was fuelled, in
the early years of the force, by the low quality of recruits.
Many were sacked for drunkenness and there was a very high turnover:
2,200 of the first 2,800 recruits were not in the force after
a year. It obviously took time for them to learn how to deal
with the public and for the public to learn how to deal with
them. In time, however, they came to be accepted. An improved
career structure meant that police stayed in the force for longer
and became better at the job. Respectable Victorians could see
the contribution the presence of a policeman made to law and
order on the streets: they felt safer than they had done. After
the middle of the century the crime rate declined and the police
took some credit for this. However, because they are always
in the public eye, and because they are the symbol of law and
order, they have to show the highest standards. They also stand
or fall by the crime rate. In both areas the police have always
come in for complaint.