Victorian Londoners Assaulted Police for Fun
Much of the Victorian public loathed the newly created police force. So they made policemen’s lives as miserable as possible. That often involved. Bobbies who tried to arrest miscreants, particularly in working class neighborhoods, were often set upon and attacked by the culprit’s neighbors, friends, and passersby, in order to rescue the detainee. In addition to objections to police interference with street life, there was even greater resentment when the cops got involved in domestic affrays. Cops who approached private residences, regardless of the motive, risked a hostile reception. Even knocking on doors to alert residents to security lapses, such as leaving a door or window open at night, was not met with gratitude. Instead, Victorians often responded with abuse and violence directed at the policemen who had the temerity to disturb their peace.
The Bobbies were especially reluctant to get involved in instances of domestic violence. That often subjected them to the wrath of both parties, who would temporarily forget their own squabble and unite to attack the policemen. Sometimes the violence was not instrumental, such as attempts to free somebody known to the assailants from the police. Instead, it was visited upon the Bobbies for the sheer fun of it. Many liked to lead policemen on merry chases, while others simply attacked them out of the blue. More creative were some gangs of working class youths, who collaborated to ambush police, baiting the cops into chasing them down alleys and footpaths strung with trip wires. The wires’ release sprang cartoonish booby traps that caused bricks to smash into the cops, or tipped buckets of refuse to fall upon their heads.