The issues of crime and policing were taken up by Robert Peel when he became Home Secretary in 1822. Peel and his ministerial colleagues saw the increase in criminal activity as a threat to the stability of society.
Metropolitan Police Bill
In 1828, another Commons inquiry reported in favour of a police force for London, and in 1829 Peel's Metropolitan Police Bill received parliamentary approval.
The new Act established a full-time, professional and centrally-organised police force for the greater London area under the control of the Home Secretary. The uniformed constables embodied a new style of policing in contrast to the small and disorganised parish forces of the 18th century.
Response to crime and disorder
Besides being a response to rising crime and disorder, they answered the growing need for preventive policing and helped to keep order on the streets.
Peel hoped that the Metropolitan force would offer a model for reformed policing in other parts of the country. Further development was rapid. In 1835 the Municipal Corporations Act required newly-created local councils to appoint paid constables for preserving the peace.
Policing grows steadily
This initially brought policing to 178 towns, and the number grew steadily. In 1839 the Rural Constabulary Act allowed county areas to establish police forces if they so wished; Wiltshire was the first county to do this.
By 1851 there were around 13,000 police in England and Wales, although existing legislation did not compel local authorities to establish local forces.