Crime and Punishment

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1450 - 1750

  • High unemployment levels – increase in beggars and poverty levels – people travelling around looking for work.
  • Quality of roads improved – more highwaymen and more opportunities to commit crime.
  • Rich/ higher classes had more say/power than poor/lower class people – made laws to help protect themselves (e.g. poaching), different punishments for different classes.
  • Population increased
  • Justices of the Peace – held local courts
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1750 - 1900

Bloody code was gone – changes to attitudes, alternative punishments

Police forces set up.

Immigrants moved into areas of terrible poverty – turned to crime in order to survive, increased population further – people competing for jobs – slums were very violent and aggressive.

Industrialisation – towns grew – more street crimes and burglary.

Growth in alcoholism, disorder and riots – mainly working class.

French revolution happened – government worried people might be influenced so tried to make laws within public interests (e.g. end of bloody code).

Transport developed – people moved around more – easier for criminals to escape – harder to keep track of.

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Development of technology – brought new crimes, better police and detective systems.

Society is more multi-cultural – immigration increased, better civil rights so racism has now been made a crime (Race Relations Act 1968).

Women’s rights improved (e.g. the right to vote).

Development of media – reported crimes (e.g. 1888 –Jack the Ripper murders), influenced law making.

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1829 – First police force  was set up in London. (Metropolitan Police Act)

1842 – Detective department set up – helped solve crime.

1856 – compulsory for all counties and boroughs to have a police force.

1901 – Scotland Yard fingerprinting department was set up.

1982 – Neighbourhood Watch groups set up

1995 – computer system was set up which allowed all English and Welsh police forces to compare fingerprints.

2002 – Police community support officers were introduced.

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Death Penalty

Timothy Evans 1950 – hanged for killing his wife and baby – evidence later revealed that another person living in the same flats had committed the murders. He was pardoned in 1966.

Derek Bentley – 1953 – 19 year old who was found guilty of armed robbery in which a policeman was shot dead by Bentley’s partner Craig. As Craig was 16 he wasn’t executed but Bentley was even though he didn’t shoot the police officer. He was pardoned in 1998.  

Ruth Ellis – 1955 – suffered violent abuse from her boyfriend who she eventually murdered – the jury had to sentence her to death as there was no other alternative. Last woman to be hung.

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