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Can the market provide law enforcement? This paper addresses this question by analyzing an historical case study: the system of private prosecutions that prevailed in England prior to the introduction of the police. I examine why this system came under strain during the Industrial Revolution, and how private clubs emerged to internalize the externalities that caused the private system to generate too little deterrence. The historical evidence suggests that these private order institutions were partially successful in ameliorating the problem of crime in a period when public choice considerations precluded the introduction of a professional police force.
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