Conflict and Order

The Police and Labour Disputes in England and Wales 1900-1939
Morgan, Jane
Date published: 
December 1987

Conflict and Order examines the role of the police in labour disputes in England and Wales between 1900 and 1939, a particularly stormy period which witnessed the Tonypandy riots, 'Black Friday', and the general strike. After a brief survey of these events, the author discusses the increase in Home Office influence over the provincial police down to 1918; the position of the police in the anti-strike apparatus of government in 1918-1922; the use of the armed services during the general strike; and the decline in police accountability towards local authorities. The operational aspects covered include the police response to the problems of picketing and industrial disturbances, and the legal and industrial framework within which they operated; and the handling of labour meetings and marches, with special reference to the unemployed marches of the 1920s and 30s, and the 1936 Public Order Act. Based largely on public records and rare material from local police archives, Conflict and Order assesses the abiding tension between independence and public accountability in police work, which remains at the heart of present-day concerns about maintaining order in a free society.