Byline: W.T. Stead; 1885-07-10; The Pall Mall Gazette;Article Links
The watchword with which we started, Liberty for Vice, Repression for Crime, is the only safe keynote for the Legislature in dealing with this question. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, as framed by Sir W. Harcourt, was not so much a bill for raising the age of consent and increasing the stringency of the provisions against procuration and the traffic in English girls as a bill for increasing the arbitrary power of the police in the streets.No one who has any acquaintance with the enormous variety of the duties which modern civilization imposes upon the police can sympathize with the abuse so ignorantly and uncharitably showered upon the force. The constable is the official upon whom modern society has devolved all the duties of the ancient knight errant. There is no more useful being in the world, and there are few nobler ideals of human activity than the daily life of a really public-spirited, chivalrous policeman. But the majority of policemen, being only mortal, are no more to be trusted with arbitrary power than any other human beings, especially over the other sex. Its possession leads to corruption, and the more that power is increased the more mischief is done. I have no wish to bring any railing accusations against a body of men who are constantly performing the most arduous duties in the public service; but those who think most highly of the force should be most anxious to save it from any increase of a temptation which already seriously impairs both its morale and its efficiency. In this, I am informed, I am expressing not only the unanimous opinion of our Commission, but also the matured conviction of some of the best authorities in the force.