Crime & Punishment (History)

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Ancient Rome- Policing & Punishment

Crime -Deliberately burned down a building Punishment- Bound, whipped and burned at the stake. If it was accidental he had to repair the damage              

Crime- Murder   Punishment- Sentenced to death in the arena, fighting as gladiators until everyone had been killed

Crime- If slaves ran away   Punishment-   Chased, whipped, captured and beaten

Crime-  Prisoners of wars Punishment- Used as slave labour on new buildings

Crime- Noblemen  Punishment- Sentenced to death, were not executed. Allowed to leave the ciry and go into exile outside the Roman Empire

Crime-  Incorrect weights/measures Punishment- Whipped if not 1st offence, 1st offence fined.

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System of policing & trials (1)

Minor Crime

  • At the court a judge was chosen- he was not a lawyer, however he could take advice from a lawyer- judge made his decision
  • 'Theft' minore crime- didnt affect the ruler or the majority of people
  • 'Burgled'- find the criminal yourself- collect evidence- summon the accused to the magistrates court

Major Crime

  • Different system
  • Cases were tired by magistrates with a jury
  • Anyone could bring a case to court for trial
  • Suspect appeared- both sides gave evidence- jury decided if he/she was guilty
  • Magistrate then decided the sentence
  • Three basic principals at work
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System of policing & trials (2)

Roman Trials

  • Any roman citizen could bring a case to court
  • The defendant was innocent until proved guilty
  • The defendant had the right to present evidence


  • Early years- no police force
  • Attacked or robbed- had to catch the criminal himself- help from friends or neighbours
  • Led to more violence
  • Core of the police were riot troops

Praetorian Guard

  • Emporers household guards
  • Used only in emergencies to protect Emporer from riots
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System of policing & trials (3)

Urban Cohorts (3000 soldiers)

  • Main job was to keep order by stopping riots- they did not patrol the streets


  • Main duty was preventing and putting out fires
  • On patrol at night- stop crimes, chased runaway slaves
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Wergild & Hue and cry

  • Wergild is the amount of compensation you pay if you harm someone else's body e.g. eyes
  • Cheaper to kill a welshman than a noblemen, king etc

It was cheaper to kill a welshman because they were of a lower status, meaning they were less important and worth less (hierarchical society).

Hue and Cry

The hue and cry was when someone shouted 'Stop! Thief!' and the whole village came out to stop the thief. It could stop any crime.

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Tithing is a self help system that the kings had set up by the tenth century. A group of ten people was a Tithing. Any male over the age of 12 had to be in a tithing. Due to this it meant they were responsible for eachothers behaviour. If a member broke the law, the others within the group had to bring him to court or pay the compensation fine to the victim.

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