Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Deconstructive research in period crime novels

I was a Policeman for 30 years and I would feel incredibly confident writing about anything to do with Police or Policing over that period, and probably still to date.

However, I have chosen out of interest, the genre of early Victorian Crime and with a view to building my characters and taking them through the later Victorian period, within reasonable limits.

What has struck me is that everything I learned as a Policeman developed from something, and that particular something started from something else, and so on, and to find what there was when there was nothing, is a bit like predicting how the world really began.

Where can you find "what was there before Judges rules?" or "why and when did Police include cautions at arrest and interview?" because what you will more probably find is something that occurred after these decisions were made, and not what brought them about.

There are some very useful blogs, such as "Looking at History" ( to whom I am indebted!

As much as it is fun to make it up, I really struggle with "getting it wrong" and I am having to deconstruct what references there are that have been made available, and work backwards much more than I had predicted.

I have realised that Policing in 1836 et seq was very primitive, more so than I had assumed,and until you read Stones Justices Manual and see guidelines that were set from court rules and rulings, that have influenced the middle to latter part of the 19th century and into the twentieth century, it appears to have been a very subjective period in Policing and judicial process.

Has anyone in this genre found any better "pre" Victorian legal sources for "rules of engagement" by Police Forces, pre Lord Bampton's report of 1882?

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