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Zero Tolerance Text  Before the coming of paid police forces, the main agents of local law enforcement were the parish constables, who were local tradesmen or farmers chosen annually by the inhabitants of each parish or township. People of no fixed abode and visible means of support (or in the blunter contemporary language “rogues and vagabonds”) were always a bugbear to the authorities, and the constables were expected to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy against them.

This is an order made in 1814 to the constables of the county by magistrates meeting at the court of Quarter Sessions.

“The magistrates now assembled taking into consideration the various depredations recently committed upon the public: DO strictly charge and command all Constables and other Peace Officers in this County, to perform their duty as by law required, in apprehending all Rogues, Vagabonds, and other idle and disorderly Persons, to give information to some one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, of all keepers of common Lodging and victualling Houses, who shall knowingly permit any Rogue, Vagabond, or incorrigible Rogue, to lodge or take shelter in his House, Barn, Out-house, or Building, and to present all Ale-house-keepers who shall permit any Journeyman, Apprentices, Colliers, Servants, or Labourers, to remain drinking in their Houses, at any improper or unseasonable hours, or who shall not in all things preserve good order therein, agreeably to the tenor of their recognizances. And they do earnestly recommend the Ministers, Churchwardens, and principal Inhabitants of every parish, to enforce the Laws for the due observance of the Sabbath. By order of the court, Hinckley.

Being a constable was often a difficult job. For an illustration of this, click on A Pugnacious Poacher

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