Victorian London - Police and Policing - Perception of - policeman's beat

The London policeman ... knows every nook and corner, every house, man, woman and child on his beat. He knows their occupations, habits and circumstances. This knowledge he derives from his constantly being employed in the same quarter and the same street, and to - and surely a mind on duty bent may take great liberties with the conventional moralities - that platonic and friendly intercourse which he carries on with the female servants of the establishments which it is his vocation to protect. An English maid-servant is a pleasant girl to chat with, when half shrouded by the mystic fog of the evening and with her smart little cap coquettishly placed on her head, she issues from the sallyport of the kitchen, and advances stealthily to the row of palisades which protect the house. And the handsome policeman too, with his blue coat and clean white gloves, is held in high regard and esteem by the cooks and housemaids of England. His position on the beat is analagous to that of the porter of a very large house; it is a point of honour with him, that nothing shall escape his observation.

Max Schlesinger, Saunterings in and about London, 1853

This change of residence caused me to lose my way when trying to walk back on the first night of my stay there. Not knowing which way to turn I appealed to a policeman for help. Without a word he signed me to follow him. At the end of the street, he handed me over to another policeman with the two words "Bond Street". This one escorted me the length of his beat, and there another one took charge of me, and so on, till I had counted twelve. None of them spoke a single word to me, and the lose one simply pointed to the door. It is a novel way of reaching one's destination! You just inform your friends that you are eight or ten peelers away, they calculate the time needed, and so can dispense with maps. I had noticed during my walk that policemen were busy testing the doors of houses, which I thought an excellent precaution. Evidently the inviolability of an Englishman's home is not respected by burglars.

Francis Wey, A Frenchman Sees the English in the Fifties, 1935