From menace to celebrity: The English police detective and the press, c.1842-1914

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Surveying the changing image of the police detective from the inception of detective departments in the new police in the mid Victorian era through to its formative period in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is vital to our understanding of how the system of crime control was perceived at the time. Initially, the notion of undercover policing was widely rejected. By the eve of the First World War, however, police detectives, especially at Scotland Yard, enjoyed an almost heroic reputation. In the belief that the press was the most significant factor in shaping the dominant view on police detectives during this crucial period, this article examines their changing image as reflected in newspapers and periodicals, and the role played by the press in this metamorphosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-692
Number of pages21
JournalHistorical Research
Issue number222
StatePublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In the early 1960s, the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored conferences on ‘‘scientific creativity.’’ Yet, ‘‘as interest in engineering design faded in most engineering schools, creativity was put on a back burner’’ (Ferguson 1992, p. 57). More recently, creativity has received greater attention as a necessity, rather than an accessory in engineering design (Charyton and Merrill 2009). In today’s times, creativity is appreciated even more as a vital resource.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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