Hue and Cry is the story of Henry and John Fielding, the two pioneers and reformers who created London’s police force and brought law and order where chaos and corruption had prevailed – and thereby gave the citizens of London a freedom they had long lacked.
London was a lawless city in the mid-eighteenth century. Robbery, rape and even murder occurred with astonishing frequency and casualness. Londoners, not trusting their government, seemed to prefer criminals to gendarmes. “For over a hundred years the people of London endangered (and in many cases lost) their property and their lives by refusing to establish a police force,” writes Pringle. This book shows how Fielding introduced the English to the idea of what Pringle calls a “preventative police” and also showed “that it was possible for a state to have an efficient police force without becoming a police state. Almost alone in his age he realized that an Englishman’s liberty did not depend on slavish worship of the English Constitution, but could be lost in that way.”