Criminal River explores the social and legal history of the police on the River Thames, from the founding of the Thames Marine Police in 1798 to the contemporary establishment working in co-operation with other security and crime prevention organizations.
The book begins with an account of eighteenth-century crime on the river, and goes on to explain the adaptation to rapid social and industrial change that came with the growth of empire and the ever-changing challenge of policing the river traffic. The book also explores the work of the Thames Police Office and its magistrates, from the first founding fathers, Patrick Colquhoun and John Harriott, through to the re-organizations of the twentieth century.
In the process of that dramatic narrative Stephen Wade also provides a casebook of the most important Thames Police work regarding crime and accidents, from the bombings of the Fenians to the everyday suicides, and from the major shipping disasters to the crises around political refugees.
This history reveals how the River Police learned and adapted to change.
How did the conditions of work develop? How did police boats cope with major disasters?Most intriguing of all, who were these extraordinary men and women who, through hard times and wars, remained vigilant and effective as guardians of London's waters?