You really do have to take your hat off to the bravery of the Victorian police. And, let me also say that that in no way is meant to disparage the bravery of the police today.
No matter what the situation, the police constable of Victorian London would move in to sort things out, often a great personal risk to themselves.
Several officers were killed in the line of duty when the situation they confronted went to wrong way; but many of them were able to bring the situation under control, and another dangerous criminal was removed from the scene.
The Lancaster Gazette, in its edition of Saturday, 22nd June, 1889, reported on one such incident:-
FIGHT ON A HOUSETOP WITH A DRUNKEN SAILOR
About ten o’clock on Monday night an extraordinary scene was witnessed in Pentonville-road, London. A man had been seen on the roof of No. 106, and he was supposed to be a burglar prospecting for a job.
The occupier at once called in the aid of two police constables, who procured a ladder and attempted to climb up it to reach the rooftop. They found themselves immediately pelted with slates and brickwork by the man who was on the roof.
Two other constables arrived with other ladders, but they also were repulsed in the same way.
A LARGE CROWD GATHERED
By this time a great crowd had assembled in the street below, hooting and yelling and urging on the police officers.
The constables called to the supposed burglar to come down, but he would not.
A valiant volunteer bethought him of his trusty Martini-Henry as a means of frightening the man. He, therefore, got his rifle, loaded it with blank cartridge, and took careful aim at nothing in particular.
THE MAN WITH THE RIFLE
The man on the roof crouched behind a chimney pot.
The rifle blazed off and the police, under the cover of the resulting smoke, gallantly rushed up the storming ladders and reached the roof.
A DESPERATE FIGHT
There then ensued a desperate fight with the madman, and the people below all held their breath, expecting at each moment to see the whole party roll off into the street.
INDUCED TO GO QUIETLY
But at last the man was “induced” to go quietly.
He was taken down the ladder and thence to the police station.
A NORWEGIAN SAILOR
He turned out to be a Norwegian sailor in a state of intoxication.
The damage done in the fray exceeds £20.