Percy Reboul and John Heathfield remember the powers of previous police forces and the crimes that reflect the values of the time

Every generation has worried about law and order in its community and sought new and better methods to catch the criminal.

Today's guardians of the law, the Metropolitan Police, were founded in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel. Like all policemen since that time, they regarded themselves as badly paid for the job they do. Those early "peelers" as they were known, were paid 19 shillings (95p) a week, of which about four shillings went on rent.

They got no pension and no payment for injury or disablement. The job was harsh. They were expected to cover every part of their beat at least once every 15 minutes - walking of course.

The good news was an annual allowance of enough cloth to make two uniforms.

Earlier policing methods had changed little since medieval times. Parishes elected annually an unpaid parish constable to serve for a year (or got him to pay for someone else to do the job) and an assistant constable called a headborough. There are records of such appointments in Finchley going back to the 1600s.

The constable's powers were considerable. For example, he had the right to enter, without warrant, any house where he thought adultery and fornication was taking place - an interesting reflection of the values of those times.

The job of actually patrolling the parish streets was done by a small team of watchmen, controlled by the parish constable. They were often poor, simple-minded men who were widely regarded as figures of fun and called "Charlie", hence the phrase "a proper Charlie".

Other guardians of the law in those early days were the Bow Street Horse Patrol which covered the Great North Road across Finchley Common and eventually won the battle against the highwaymen who plagued the open space.