Police photography in Iceland

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In 1803 the office of municipal magistrate was founded in Reykjavik; the holder of this office is counted as Iceland's first police officer. He had two policemen to assist him, and this number remained unchanged until 1905.1 Mter this the number of police officers rose as the town grew. By 1921, for instance, the policemen numbered 13, and they had reached 28 in 1931.2 In the regions, urban development was less rapid, so there was little or no increase in police numbers. Until after 1900, the events of the crime were of more importance to police authorities than detailed personal information. Individuals were recorded by such descriptions as ‘tramp’, ‘idiot’, ‘ruffian’, ‘pauper’ or other tenns referring generally to the person's social and economic status.3 Towards the inter-war years, however, the role of social institutions grew, among them that of the police force, whose role was to monitor the actions of the citizen. Photography played an important part in their work, and in more recent times the importance of photography has increased in connection with the recording of evidence at crime scenes, investigation of criminal cases, monitoring of traffic, etc., in the preparation of prosecutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-38
Number of pages3
JournalHistory of Photography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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