Bow Street Runners
According to The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, "In order to encourage victims to report crimes, magistrates in both the City of London and Middlesex established "rotation offices" in the 1730s where Londoners could be certain of finding a magistrate present at fixed hours. One of these was set up in Bow Street, near Covent Garden, by Sir Thomas De Veil in 1739. "
In 1748, Henry and John Fieldings introduced a new practice of capturing thieves by "employing thief-takers as "runners" who, when a crime was reported, could be sent out by the magistrates to detect and apprehend the culprit. Thief-takers, such as William Pentlow, made a living out of the fees they charged for their services and the rewards they obtained from victims for identifying suspects and from the state for successful convictions."
Click here for The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674 to 1834. This impressive website is a"fully searchable online edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing accounts of over 100,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court."Find more on Bow Street Runners here.