Eleanor Bland: "Lurking" and "Loitering" - Historic Approaches to Policing Suspicious Behaviour and their Contemporary Resonances

This seminar delivered by Eleanor Bland, is part of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies Work-in-Progress Seminars (WiPS).


My PhD research examined policing practices in London, 1780-1850, with a particular focus on the police targeting of suspicious persons. I examined the language used to describe ‘proactive’ policing practices and the behaviour of those viewed as suspicious, using court records, guides and instructions for different types of police officers, and Select Committee reports and other official sources on policing. I also analysed the characteristics of those arrested by proactive police officers, and examined how they related to wider criminal stereotypes. I am interested in investigating how the historical practices that I identified relate to contemporary policing, such as the use of stop and search powers, and the disproportionate focus of the police on particular communities.

Building on this research, I am in the process of developing my next project, with a focus on the policing of suspect communities in Australia. I’m interested in both the policing of convict and Aboriginal populations in the Australian colonies in the nineteenth century, and the legacies of this surveillance on communities who continue to be viewed as ‘suspicious’ today. Since this research planning is in its early stages, I’m going to present some possible directions for the research, and then will be very interested to hear suggestions and feedback.


All are welcome to attend, please register in advance.

Refreshments will be provided.