West Midlands Police

West Midlands Police Museum

Police History Society

Staffordshire Police history

The story of policing
(aimed at schoolchildren)

History of police dogs

Police Federation

The Police and the Black Country

by Mick Pearson

Adapting To Change

It is said today that change is the only constant. Technology has advanced so quickly that today's homes, workplace and general environment bear no resemblance to that of 100 years ago. This development is in part due to two world wars, war is always a catalyst for new development, when money, material and minds are set on new weapons and technologies seeking to out-do an enemy.

Policing has evolved to keep pace with the changes in the last century. The motor car has gone from a machine that moved so slowly that it could be preceded by the man with a red flag, to cars that can travel at speeds more than twice the legal speed limit. The increased use of the car has led to another problem for the police - the travelling criminal. I think it is safe to say that in 1900 most crime was committed within five miles of the home of the perpetrator.

The type of crimes committed has also evolved. Theft/burglary and other property crime has increased, a variety of factors contribute - homes contain more attractive items, human greed and envy appear to be greater, drug abuse feeds property crime. Other types of crime have emerged - credit cards have led to fraud and deception, either by using stolen cards, or by cloning cards. The Internet has spawned other crimes, pornography, in particular where children are abused, but also more high-tech crimes such as fraud, hacking and viruses as well as file sharing (copyright theft) were all unheard of 20 years ago.

Policing itself has moved with the times - "Panda" cars were introduced to make the officer able to keep up with criminals in cars and also to arrive at calls more quickly. Traffic cars were the response to a raft of new controls on drivers. Communications - gone are the days of the police box and keeping points, radios are now the norm, data terminals are on the increase. The next wave is being rolled out - with the ability to combine radio/mobile telephone/data terminal in a radio that is only a little larger than a mobile phone.

Investigation has also benefitted from science, fingerprints led the way, these are now largely held on computer, DNA is another relatively recent innovation, the ability to identify a criminal who leaves behind the most minute amount of trace evidence. Other forensic techniques can match fibres, bites, handwriting, footmarks, tyre impressions, the list is endless - what next?

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