BSC Policing Network Early Career Prize
(Sponsored by Policy Press)
Applications for 2023 are closed.
2023 – not awarded
Jonah is a Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge, studying the history of British policing and its relationship to other forms of social and state power. You can find out more about his work here, including a forthcoming book on Gender and Policing in Early Modern England. Jonah is now working on a new project about a murder committed by a constable in the early years of the City of London police.
“I’m thrilled to have won the BSC Policing Network Prize, and especially pleased to have the chance to share some historical work with the network’s members. Some of the most helpful and interesting feedback I’ve had about the article has come from lawyers, criminologists, and former police officers. I’m excited to be part of a conversation across disciplines which can only benefit everyone involved.”
‘The Touch of the State’ uncovers a piece of the long and generally neglected history of stop and search. This controversial policing tactic was used in England (especially in London) for centuries before it was given any formal basis in law. The article uses court records from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to reconstruct how constables and night watchmen stopped and searched people on suspicion of various crimes. These officers – who were all male – were especially prone to stopping women walking through the capital’s streets alone, usually on suspicion of theft, selling sex, or both. They searched these women for evidence to provide grounds for arrest and evidence for potential prosecution. Such searches took place in a legal vacuum, unregulated by either statute or common law.
Male suspects tended to be searched relatively unobtrusively, typically by patting down their outer clothing. Officers thought female suspects were particularly ingenious in hiding small stolen goods like coins or watches, so searched them far more invasively. Some women were subjected to extraordinarily intrusive searches, which we would now consider forms of sexual assault. In the long run, women’s resistance to this kind of searching by male constables and watchmen played a crucial role in the rise of police matrons and eventually female police officers. Until then, patriarchal prejudices about women’s urban mobility, combined with wide discretionary powers, produced highly gendered practices of stop and search.
The article represents a significant contribution to the history of policing and to policing studies more broadly. Dr David Churchill, who nominated Jonah for the prize, said it ‘draws skilfully on original legal records, and combines this with a reading of historical, sociological and criminological literature. The article thus provides a deep historical excavation of stop and search and state authority of a kind rarely encountered in the literature, which offers new perspectives on policing, power and marginalization in contemporary contexts’.
2020 – not awarded due to the COVID-19 outbreak
Dr David Churchill, University of Leeds.
‘I am just the man for Upsetting you Bloody Bobbies’: popular animosity towards the police in late nineteenth century Leeds’, Social History, 39(2), 248-266.
2014 – Joint winners: Anna Barker for ‘Communicating Security? Policing urban spaces and control signals‘ in Urban Studies and Daniel McCarthy for ‘Gendering ‘Soft’ policing: multi-agency working, female cops, and fluidities of of polic culture/s’ in Policing and Society.