Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Crime and Criminal Law

Police: History - Early Policing In England, The Beginning Of "modern" Policing In England, Early Policing In Colonial America

model societies formal legitimacy

Throughout the history of civilization, societies have sought protection for their members and possessions. In early civilizations, members of one's family provided this protection. Richard Lundman has suggested that the development of formal policing resulted from a process of three developmental stages. The first stage involves informal policing, where all members of a society share equally in the responsibility for providing protection and keeping order. The second stage, transitional policing, occurs when police functions are informally assigned to particular members of the society. This stage serves as a transition into formal policing, where specific members of the community assume formal responsibility for protection and social control. Lundman suggests that the history of police involved a shift from informal to formal policing. Indeed, as societies have evolved from mechanical (members share similar beliefs and values but meet their basic needs independently) to organic (members are dependent upon one another as a result of specialization) societies, social control became more complex. Whereas there was little need for formal, specialized policing in mechanical societies, organic societies require more specialization to ensure public order.

Over time, organic societies developed into states and governments. A state is defined as "a political creation that has the recognized authority to use and maintain a monopoly on the use of force within a clearly defined jurisdiction," while a government is a "political institution of the state that uses organization, bureaucracy, and formality to regulate social interactions" (Gaines et al., p. 1). The origins of formal policing began with the organization of societies into states and governments.

The form of government heavily influences the structure of police organizations. As Lang-worthy and Travis have argued, "since all police systems rely on state authority, the source of state power ultimately represents the basis of police authority as well" (p. 42). Different forms of government have established different types of police forces. Shelley suggests that there are four different models of policing (i.e., communist, Anglo-Saxon, continental, and colonial) that differ based on their sources of legitimacy, organizational structure, and police function. The present author suggests that the communist model of policing obtains legitimacy through the communist political party, is organized as a centralized, armed militarized force, and performs the functions of crime control and enforcement of state ideology. The continental and colonial models have similar organizational structures and functions as the communist model, however the continental model obtains its legitimacy through the central government while the colonial model establishes legitimacy through the colonial authority. In comparison, the Anglo-Saxon model obtains legitimacy through local governments and is based in law. This model is organized as a decentralized force that is armed in some countries (United States) and not in others (England). Finally, police functions in this model include crime control, order maintenance, and welfare and administrative responsibilities.

In this entry, a historical description of the Anglo-Saxon model of policing is presented. The changes in the mission, strategies, and organizational structures of policing through different time periods are examined. A particular emphasis is placed on the historical roots of policing in England and their influence on modern policing in America. This entry will also detail the changes of American police forces since their establishment in the 1800s as organizations of social control. Current debate about recent changes in the mission, strategies, and organizational structures of police will be described and the future of police organizations will be examined.



Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961).

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

Police: Organization and Management - The American System Of Policing, Variation In Style And Structure, Managing Police Organizations, Information Technologies And The Police [next] [back] Police: Handling of Juveniles - Historical Overview And Organizational Structure, Legal Rights Of Juveniles, Police-juvenile Interactions, Police Handling Of Juveniles: Outcomes

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 7 years ago

I would like to receive booklets on the modest edition of police books on the teaching of crime and the dection of crimes

Vote down Vote up

over 7 years ago

hehe..cguro ngae..!

Vote down Vote up

about 2 years ago


Can I please get the reference (s) for this article. I am currently a student of UOP and doing an academic paper on community policing.


Vote down Vote up

over 3 years ago


Vote down Vote up

about 4 years ago

I would like to thank for your effort preparing this valuable document on police and policing. Meanwhile, I didn't see about the 3rd stage. Thus, would you please suggest about the 3rd stage as suggested by Richard Lundman about thedevelopment of formal policing resulted from a process of three developmental stages;
•The first stage involves informal policing
•The second stage, transitional policing &
•The third stage……………………………?

Vote down Vote up

about 4 years ago

I do appreciate your effort for the precise presentation of policing. I'm a PhD Scholar. My title is "Leadership and Policing in Security Management of Nepal". Meanwhile, I would like to request to have access for Empirical researches on Police leadership and policing and concerns, if possible.