From the 1700s to early 1800s each village appointed a single constable who served for a year.
These early constables caught criminals and made sure that they attended court. They did not prevent crime. They carried a decorated truncheon as a symbol of authority.
Wealthy people could pay for a night watchman in their area to deter criminals.
Night watchmen usually also called out the time and the weather for the general public. By 1790 there were over 1000 parish night watchmen just in London. They were employed by 70 different organisations. They didn’t work together or with the constables and so they could not cope with serious or organised crime.
Read a 1914 Yorkshire Post article "Leeds in the Making and the Men who have helped" by Frank Kidson, featuring the Turnpike Riots, Foster Powell (The Horsforth Pedestrian), and Mary Bateman