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by post, without charge, to police officer, relative to horses and other property stolen, when he had any suspicion that they had, or would be likely to be taken in that direction, and all letters solely relating to the police or its duties should be franked by the magistrate, after he had read and sealed them.
The points of selection for the residence of a police-officer should be the most populous part of the district, and the highest ground; the house should be furnished with a telegraph for day and night operations :—thus the stealing of a horse or bank parcel might be conveyed over the whole island in an hour, with particulars of the place of robbery, description of the property, and so far as was known of the thieves, the direction they had taken, and their mode of travelling. The expense of such telegraphs need not be very great; and what honest or sensible man would or could begrudge it? Weadopt the system of telegraphs for the security of ourselves, and annoyance of those with whom as a nation, or its government, we have quarrelled : is it not still wiser to adopt them for the security of the sufferer, and a means of discouraging the offender from continuing his crimes, by thus enhancing the risk above the par of the value of the property coveted. Further circumstances relative to suspicious appearances of recent passers, would be added at the other telegraphs as they arose, and interchanges made with the original telegraph and those in the direction which the suspected passers had taken. When an officer neglected to pass the signal, he should be fixed with a share of the amount of loss his comrades were liable to. Hazy weather, absence from the telegraph on official business, and other unavoidable hindrances, could be spoken to in excuse or mitigation by his neighbours and others; and his wife or other person residing in the house should be instructed, not only how to signal him home, but also to answer and pass the signals when from absence or illness he was unable to do it himself.
Police-officers should be authorized to detain suspicious persons, without any reference to counties, and without waiting for a magistrate's warrant, when delay would endanger the practicability of eventual detection; they should also be allowed to take a greater latitude on occasion of a known crime committed. For instance, if a bay horse were just stolen, and reason existed for supposing the thief to have taken a specific road, the officer in that district would be warranted in detaining a bay horse thus passing, though under shades of suspicion which but for the robbery would not be held to be a warrantable interference, and after all, much must be trusted to the discretion of officers if we would have thieves detected. They should also be empowered to demand reasonable assistance in the same degree that constables now are.*
* The noble-minded Marquis who recently restored the Hue and Cry Record, naturally expected that it would have its natural obvious effect; but it would appear that sufficient allowance was not made for this circumstance, with which our police system is saturated, that the police, who are quite inadequately paid, know that they clear more by following up five per cent. of fifty thousand cases of crime, than they could by following up twenty per cent. of five thousand cases; in short, good regulations and wise laws are very good; but if we place men in a station wherein it is their interest to neutralize a class of laws, and commit to those very men the primary administration of that class of laws, what can we expect? We might as well sow good wheat on the waves of the Atlantic, and
Thus the most valuable, because the most innocent, practicable, efficient, and economical object of criminal jurisprudence, the reduction of the number of crimes and criminals by vigilant oversight, and removal of temptation, would be extensively and permanently found in the medium of its being the interest of those to whose charge it was committed, to keep down to the utmost the number and heinousness of offences, which would be a perpetually operating principle in those who were appointed to look after them; so that whereas it is now the pecuniary interest of police officers that every germ of crime should unfold, should ripen, should scatter its seed into ground richly prepared to receive it, by the negligence of our legal institutions, so by this plan it would be their constant interest to
expect a crop to reward our labour; for, according to the present system, if the police worked the thieves out of the market, though they would make a good thing of it the first year, they would, by continuing that rate of vigilance, cut off the bulk of their indirect income. It is painful thus to speak of men who are so tempted; but they are less to blame than the system they are placed in; and were they put on a footing of common sense, these very men would probably become immediately some of the most useful members of English society.
prevent as much as possible every such plant from getting root at all, much less to suffer it to expand and taint the air, or ripen and scatter its seeds; they would be as great fools to do so as a farmer would be to encourage the breed of rats in his barns, not that they would be allowed to knock them on the head sans ceremonie, but they would be armed with the power of rooting them out constitutionally, while their interest and their integrity would go hand in hand in keeping down to their utmost the number and heinousness of offences, the succession of criminals, the excitements to crime, as roving idleness, &c. &c.; nor need such a system trench unconstitutionally on the liberty of the honest. Not one in ten of the stolen horses that now find their way. to the continent or the dog-kennel, would then; for immediately that a horse was stolen, it would be the interest of the police-officer of the district to signal and write to his brethren on the coast, and in the districts where horses are slaughtered, and both would be pleased when one paid the other a commission of twenty-five per cent. on his liability,