Section 1

Cleanliness and Security

by Adam Smith Icon

Police is the second general division of jurisprudence.

The name is French. It is originally derived from the Greek πολιτεία, which properly signified the policy of civil government. But now it only means the regulation of the inferior parts of government:

  • cleanliness This deals with the proper method of carrying dirt from the streets.
  • security This deals with the execution of justice, so far as it regards regulations for preventing crimes or the method of keeping a city guarded. Cleanliness and security are useful but are too mean to be considered in this kind of general discourse.
  • wealth

The cities that have the most police and the most regulations on it, do not always have the greatest security.

  • Paris has so many regulations
  • London only has two or three simple regulations

Yet in Paris, scarce a night passes without somebody being killed. In London, a larger city, there are scarce three or four in a year.

Because of this, one would think that the more police, the less the security. But this is not the cause.

Inequality, Dependence, and Rent-seeking by the Retainers in the Feudal system caused the disorders that required additional policies

In England and France during the time of the feudal government, and as late as Queen Elizabeth’s reign, many retainers were kept idle about the noblemen’s houses to keep the tenants in awe.

  • When these retainers were turned out, they had no other way of getting their subsistence but by committing robberies and living on plunder.
    • This created the greatest disorder.

These feudal manners are still preserved in France and is the cause of the difference.

The Paris nobility keep far more menial servants than ours.

  • These are often turned out on their own account or through the caprice of their masters.
  • They become indigent and are subsequently forced to commit the most dreadful crimes.

In Glasgow, almost nobody has more than one servant.

  • There are fewer capital crimes than in Edinburgh.
  • In Glasgow there is not one in several years.
  • But not a year passes in Edinburgh without some such disorders.

Therefore on this principle, it is not so much the police that prevents the crimes as the having as few persons as possible to live on others.

Dependency corrupts mankind the most. Independency increases honesty the most.

The establishment of commerce and manufactures brings about this independence. It is the best police for preventing crimes by=

  • letting the common people have better wages than in any other system or policy
  • this leads to a general probity of manners among the people

Nobody will beg on the highway if he can make better bread in an honest and industrious way.

The nobility of Paris and London are much on a level.

  • But the common people of Paris are much more dependent.
  • They are not to be compared with common people of London.

For the same reason, the commonalty in Scotland differ from those in England, even if the nobility are also on a level.

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