The police social conscience has been shown since at least the late 1890s when the first Police Aided Scheme for Clothing Destitute Children was launched in Edinburgh. It worried the Edinburgh police when they saw children in the streets during the depths of winter shivering, with sparse clothing and no shoes. This started annual fund-raising, such as holding concerts, to provide clothing for these poor and destitute children. Each year thousands of pairs of shoes, boots and other warm clothing was donated. Much of the warm clothing was made by local people, including police wives. This showed the police social conscience; but it also gave them closer access to the poorer areas of the city where crime was most often detected, so that they came to be viewed as benefactors, not only as being feared for looking for criminals.
The scheme spread, so that many of Britian's major towns and cities had such a scheme by the beginning of 1900. It was thought to be so beneficial that Winston Churchill recommended it to the Metropolitan Police as part of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubillee celebrations in 1897.
During the war the scheme continued but was largely taken on by police wives and Special Constables. In some police forces the scheme continues to this day, although modified to meet modern requirements.