Real-time communication, 1848–1945
in Police control systems in Britain, 1775–1975
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The introduction of telecommunications enabled some police control functions to be exercised at a distance. Public anticipation of police technologies usually entailed greater speed of information and response. Telegraphs first replaced some communication within hierarchies: the initial point here was the ad hoc use of the national telegraph network against Chartists in 1848. This began a pattern whereby political crisis inspired the emergency use of technologies which later became general. Telephones were better suited to horizontal communication, particularly that between different police forces, and between them and other institutions. Telephone box systems were initially emplaced as a way of limiting the ability of the public to call upon the police. After 1919 many forces used systems of boxes in another way: to act as the basis for the supervision of police officers on their beats.

Police control systems in Britain, 1775–1975

From parish constable to national computer

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