In reflecting on the history of crime control, the policies of the government and the calls for reforms from citizens have played a dynamic role in shaping crime control and policing.
One issue in attempting to explicate a history of crime control in the United Kingdom is that crime statistics were not kept before 1805 and thus all endeavours to reconstruct the state of crime before then must be gathered from, at times, shady court records (Emsley 204). The genesis of modern crime control is often attributed, by most Whig historians, to the establishment of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 by then Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel (Sharpe 6).
The traditional historical account suggests that this was prompted by the rising rates of crime throughout London and other increasingly urbanized areas in the north and midlands, and the perceived outmoded inadequacy of the previous system of parish constables and watchmen, which had shown its impotence in such situations as the Gordon Riots in 1780 (Emsley 211). The elevation of crime control measures from primarily local and discretionary mechanisms to centralized and homogenous is a general trend that is in part due to the growth of London and other large cities, and the attendant concerns of urban populism mandated greater national implementation of crime management techniques (Emsley 226).
One possible explanation for this is that urban environments present a more complex and interconnected social dynamic, which can more easily breakdown with more disastrous results, than in the more agrarian and rural milieu that dominated Great Britain in centuries prior.
Rather than focusing on the dozens of crime control theories that populate handbooks and research journals, some attention should be paid to the nature of crime control theory itself and how it is established.