How Did the Romans Try to Prevent Crime?

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By 250AD, Britain had been a province of the Roman Empire for over 200 years.

Roman Society

  • A slave has no legal rights and is the possession of their master
  • The Forum is the central market place of the town.  Convicted criminals were whipped here
  • Roman citizens were tried under Roman Law.  British citizens were tried under native laws
  • In the Basilica, the Decurions heard legal disputes and tried law breakers.  The Decurions were elected by the wealthy men of the town.  The most senior Decurion was the town's Chief Magistrate.  Serious crimes were dealt with by the Roman Governor of Britannia
  • Noblemen who committed serious crimes had the option to be banished from Britain.  The poor had no choice and were executed
  • Thefts commonly took place at the Baths
  • Prisons were only used to hold people awaiting trial or for debtors
  • The punishment for stealing from a temple was death
  • The Speculatores were officials under orders from the magistrate to make arrests and carry out punishments


  • Fighting was common between supporters of teams of chariot races
  • Groups of wealthy youths roamed the streets at night looking for a fight


  • Anyone who deliberately burned down a building was bound, whipped and burned at the stake. If the fire was accidental the perpetrator had to repair the damage
  • Landlords could be prosecuted if their buildings fell down
  • Prisoners of war were used as slave labour to build…


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