We argue that the Great Reform Act's suffrage provisions were part of a broader effort to constrain the executive, thereby enabling an expansion in the state's repressive capacity. When they came to power, the Whigs first increased parliament's power over the purse; and then bolstered its independence from the monarch and allied patronal peers by reforming parliamentary elections. These reforms to constrain the executive were followed almost immediately by substantial investments in the state's policing capacity. Professional police forces had been stoutly opposed by the gentry since the Glorious Revolution on the grounds that they would unreasonably increase royal power. Once budgets and elections had been reformed at all levels of governance (national, municipal, and county), taxpayers could be confident that their elected representatives would control the finances, and hence the behavior, of the new forces.