February 26, 2017

Juvenile crime sources

Please could everyone research a case of juvenile crime from the Old Bailey or newspapers and consider if juveniles appeared to be treated more sympathetically because of their youth.

Also look at the following:

Mary Carpenter: Ella, Ellie and Keiran

Parliamentary Papers: Helen, James and Victoria

Greenwood: Robin, Lewis, Anna S and Rachel

Manchester Guardian: Dan, Alice and Anna B


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  1. Anna Soppelsa

    The Seven Curses of London, by James Greenwood, 1869

    James Greenwood (1832-1929) was a British writer and journalist. In 1869, he collected together a number of stories concerning the so-called ‘low life’ of Britain, deeming these The Seven Curses; a statement of the main problems of metropolitan life as he saw them (Jeffrey, 1981: 214). The problems he notes include: neglected children; professional thieves; beggars; fallen women; drunkenness; gambling; and waste of charity. I have looked at chapter 8, concentrating on juvenile thieves.

    Greenwood starts by stating it is not the established criminal we should worry about but rather those of a ‘tender age’ who are ‘but feeble toddlers’. It would be ‘instructive’, he claims, if information could be collected concentrating on the beginning of their ‘downhill journey’ in order to stop it taking place. He describes how their criminality could also be inherent, for they were ‘bred and nurtured in it, inheriting it from their parents’ in a similar way to disease.

    Carrying on with this nurture argument, Greenwood claims if a juvenile has ‘received now teaching at all.. No ray of right and truth ever penetrates’ he will inevitably follow in the footsteps of his father, the thief. There appears to exist a great fear that some children, if not brought up correctly, will become thieves from infancy. More frightening still, these juvenile criminals are ‘the most difficult to reform’ for they believe ‘it is you who are wrong, not them’.

    This problem, Greenwood argues, has ‘attracted very little attention on the part of our law makers’. More recently, however, some solutions are being suggested he claims, Lord Romilly, for example, suggested taking away those children convicted twice or three times of theft, ‘placing them under State protection; educating them and giving them a trade’. This suggestion, Greenwood describes, was not met with a ‘hearty reception’ as it supplies the thief with the ‘domestic relief’ he may enjoy in his selfishness.

    Interestingly, juvenile criminals are referred to either as boys or the male pronoun is used. Greenwood states ‘Which of us can say that his children are safe from the con­tamination? Boys well-bred, as well as ill-bred, are mightily inquisi­tive about such matters.. we might at this very moment find the hands of my little Tom and your little Jack besmeared with it’.

    01 Mar 2017, 19:34

  2. Victoria Rowedder

    Within the parliamentary papers Matthew Davenport is called upon to discuss juvenile crime. Davenport is the Recorder of Birmingham, which requires him to try a lot of prisoners before court – he tries 400 people a year and admits that a large proportion of those prisoners were young boys. Davenport had sent juvenile prisoners away unpunished, because he believed there imprisonment before trial was punishment enough and going back to a master or guardian should provide discipline. Some interesting statistics emerge regarding that topic:
    Between 1842 and 1846 147 prisoners were given up to their Guardians: 48 turned out well, 29 doubtful and 40 remained bad.
    Between 1849-1851 65 prisoners were sent back to their masters, with 44 turning out well, 11 doubtful and 11 remaining bad.
    Davenport’s reasoning for the variable results ad favourable second result is interesting. He attributes this to a greater knowledge of the character of the masters or guardians entrusted with these children. Admitting that since the first set of results he has spent a lot more time analysing the guardians that the prisoners were returning too before permitting their leave.
    The causes he attributes to juvenile crime are very interesting, and clearly show his middle class privilege and subsequent prejudices. He underlines two main reasons:
    1. The Growth of large towns/cities – In essence he means there was no sense of community, no neighbourhood watch. Relationships didn’t connect the entire community, which results in crime going undetected, criminals blended into obscurity.
    2. The Gradual separation of classes. This is where Davenport’s prejudices come into play. He explains that rich and poor used to live in close proximity to one another, allowing the superior classes to extend their ‘wholesome’ influence and exercise control over the lower classes. Therefore, the children who grew up among the masses, grew up under lower class attitudes and the standard morals became their own.
    3. A very ‘potent’ cause of juvenile theft is because property is exposed at the doors of shops for the purpose of attracting customers. He speaks of this being a ‘temptation’ that an ‘unmoral’ juvenile would find hard to resist.
    The link between poverty/lower classes and criminality can be seen by Davenport’s belief that being poor was a common feature of criminality. He speaks of how ‘a dirty, unwholesome’ living condition could not contain ‘respectable inhabitants’ – such negative generalisation about the lower classes are scattered throughout Davenport’s testimony. He believes improving sanitary conditions will be preventative of crime.
    He speaks of different classes of juvenile criminals. The first class being the children of criminals – this implies that Davenport believes criminality is largely hereditary. The second class is made up of illegitimate children, and the third I made up of orphans. All three groups allow him to suggest that juvenile crime, is crime committed because of circumstance rather than a criminal want. Juvenile criminals come from classes that are morally destitute. Such negative views could be directly linked to increasing ideas of degeneration that were circulating towards the latter half of the nineteenth century.
    Davenport believes the leniency that he has treated and law has treated juvenile criminals with breeds reoffending. After being in gaol for a fortnight, the offender becomes accustomed to it and no longer fears ending up there for criminality. He instead believes there should be a ‘reformatory cure’ that ‘must be a very painful one’. He believes pain should be used as a punishment for offence, it should be administered as a deterrent.

    02 Mar 2017, 10:44

  3. Dan Ewers

    ‘The Punishment of Scuttlers’, Manchester Guardian, 13 December 1890

    The article reports upon an interview between a deputation representing the justices of the city of Manchester and the Home Secretary for the purpose of debating the powers held by magistrates in sentencing those accused of scuttling. Much of the source contains debates over the precise legal nature of scuttling, the degree of suitability of corporal punishment as a result of such offences, and the precise nature of what legally constitutes a ‘youthful offender’. Much of the debate focusses around the punishment of scuttling as a form of deterrent to others, with the deputation calling for flogging to be used as punishment for violent offenders. The ages of the ‘scuttlers’ is often referenced throughout, with many of the offenders being between fourteen and twenty-one years of age, both men and women, and the difficulties in prosecution encountered in light of this. The use of weapons, fighting over turf, and even the origins of scuttling (as the report claims it originated from fights between Irish groups on one street and Irish groups on another) are discussed in relation to changing the punishment and legal handling of the crime. Public opinion is often accounted for throughout the debates, over the acceptability of flogging punishments for young people, alongside wider social concerns, alongside the precise definition of what constitutes ‘scuttling’ and what did not. The source finished with an outline of the clauses of the Youthful Offenders Bill which I shall summarise below:

    1. Courts may a) whip male offenders b) fine parents c) order parents to pay compensation d) force parents to give security of future good behaviour
    2. Parents must be summoned to court in order for previous clauses to be demands – parental neglect must be believed to have occurred
    3. Summons may require a parent and offender to appear before a court
    4. Whipping by birch rod in private by warder / constable in presence of governor / inspector, number of strokes specified by the courts – 12 strokes and below if under twelve years-of-age, 18 strokes and below if above
    5. Powers of summary jurisdiction may deal with case with consent of offender / without objection from guardians
    6. Expression ‘youthful offender’ means boy or girl under age of sixteen

    02 Mar 2017, 14:07

  4. Helen Oakes

    Old Bailey Hearings
    I compared the case of Jane Tombs with that of Robert Spencer, whose cases were both heard in May 1835 at the Old Bailey. Jane Tombs was a 13 y/o convicted of the theft of 1 shawl worth 10s 6d. Her defence was that her father was out of work and she was distressed, and in response she was punished with 14 days confinement. In comparison, Robert Spencer was a 13 y/o convicted on stealing 1 handkerchief worth 1s. He was transported for 7 years. In the May 1835 proceedings, all cases involving juveniles were relatively short and simply solved. There were 2 witnesses in most cases, and crime was theft in every case. It is interesting to compare the sums stolen and contrast this with the confusingly worse punishment for a lower value good.

    Parliamentary papers
    Matthew Davenport Hill believed in reforming juvenile criminals, and favoured a system in Warwickshire whereby convicted juveniles were sent back to their parents immediately after trial. Parents would sign a document to say they would contribute to reforming their children, and the police would visit the houses of these children. He believed that reform was better than a retributive principle, and prevented recidivism in juvenile cases. As a result, he hoped for the diffusion of reformatory schools, where children would also be fed, across the country. He argued that the role of the state here would be no different from the role of the state in cases where juveniles went to prison. In both cases, children would be removed from their parents and cared for by the state. He contended that the latter option would be better still than the former, given that parents should be made to contribute whatever they could to the cost of reformatory school.
    Davenport Hill also spoke about the causes of juvenile crime: growth of towns= anonymity, segregation of classes= upper-class no longer controlling the poor, state of dwellings, exposure of property (Eg. in shop fronts). Surprisingly, he also made clear his opinion that poverty was rarely the true origin of juvenile crime. This linked to his beliefs that juvenile crime stemmed from several pathways:

    1. Juveniles who were the children of criminals
    2. Illegitimate children

    3. Orphans
    In all of these pathways, he believed that the moral destitution of children was a greater determining factor in criminal behavior than physical destitution.

    02 Mar 2017, 16:49

  5. James Baxter-Derrington

    Bill to extend provisions of Acts for more speedy Trial and Punishment of Juvenile Offenders to Larcenies of Small Amount – 1849

    The bill furthers the actions of other juvenile bills, particularly ‘An Act for more speedy Trial and Punishment of Juvenile Offenders in Ireland’, in a very long winded manner using only 3 sentences across 4 pages. The bill’s purpose was to clarify a smoother process of convicting those under 16 years of age for stealing or attempting to steal items of a value not in excess of 5 shillings. The only real sympathetic treatment given by nature of the accused’s youth in this bill was to prevent the punishment of whipping being applicable to this specific crime, seemingly by nature of the age of the accused.

    WILLIAM VERLEY, Theft > burglary, 27th October 1802. Old Bailey Reports

    The trial of William Verley (15) who was accused of stealing banknotes in excess of 40l was a fairly short one, with his employer, fellow apprentice, arresting sheriff’s officer, and, briefly, servant girl the only ones question, William Verley choosing to leave his defence to his counsel. There was very little asked beyond the specifics of the crime, how they found the till, and what actions they took. The only part of the trial in which the youth of William Verley was raised was during the cross examination of the arresting officer, who spoke quite positively of the accused. He noted that when he arrested William, he confessed immediately, was genuinely repentant, and cried during the process, something which would go to show the maturity of the boy accused and his intent behind the crime. He returned all the money, excluding 20l which he had bought a watch with, but also returned. The jury found him guilty and also recommended him to his Majesty’s mercy on account of his youth, but this fell on deaf ears, with the 15 year old being sentenced to death. There would appear to be no sympathy given to William Verley during the case, despite his confession, attempt to right his wrongs, or his youth.

    02 Mar 2017, 17:13

  6. Kieran Sargent

    Mary Carpenter, Reformatory schools; for the children of the perishing and dangerous classes and for juvenile offenders.

    From the start of this book, there is a religiosity to the concern around juvenile crime. I believe this makes up the majority of her apparent responsibility to deal with this perceived evil. She argues that education is a ‘remedy’, through the ‘sound religious, moral and industrial training of a child’. As the title suggests, reformatory schools are what Carpenter sees as the most suitable way of achieving her goals. She suggests that they provide a middle ground between educational and penal establishments, the perfect balance.

    Whilst she does indeed recognise the importance of juveniles as the future of the country. It is this Idea that fuels their apparent usefulness. A question of wWhat can you do for your country?’. There is an underlying middle-class normative, whereby Carpenter frequently debates the applicability of plain education for the labouring classes. A key framework within the book is her distinction between the ‘perishing and dangerous classes’. Indeed, the perishing has not yet fallen into actual crime, but certain to for their ignorance, destitution and circumstances. The dangerous classes are what Carpenter says are ‘scum of the populace’. Either way, it is clear that she marks the city as a ‘hotbed of vice’, alluding to the effects of urbanisation and industrialisation. In this, she explores the spatial nature of crime according to various commentators. −

    Carpenter frequently looks at the quality of the education received by Juvenile criminals, arguing that the current establishments not fit to deal with these classes. Her sources, which she herself acknowledges, deal with the number of committals and not individuals committed a crime. 1847 – 1848 (Ragged Schools being used): Summary convictions at 1,129, trials by Jury at 131. Total of 1260. I find it interesting that she professes inaccuracy in the numbers, yet uses this as a fundamental justification for her reasoning behind this piece. Again, Carpenter, like many of the commentators we’ve seen throughout the upper echelons of Victorian society, rarely comment on the socio-economic circumstances of these classes, effectively saying it’s their own fault.

    02 Mar 2017, 19:10

  7. Anna Blackbourn

    Manchester Guardian
    Manchester Guardian 1890
    The Punishment of ‘Scuttlers’ deputation to the home secretary
    • Scuttling offence that has no legal definition
    • Criminals largely brought from lower working class- perpetuating the idea of criminal class
    • Talks about the various weapons that are used as part of scuttling
    • 42 cases of scuttling between January 31st 1888 and September 2nd 1890
    • Mayor of Manchester was discussing appropriate punishments
    • Full penalty of the law should not be inflicted on youths- don’t want to turn them into hardened criminal by putting them in prison- links to historiography from last week
    • Corporeal punishment is preferable
    • Flogging not allowed past age of 14 – cannot flog for assault only when there is a felony
    • Mr Headlam says they are not able to trace the scuttlers past
    • Girls who are part of the gangs also cause ‘mischief’
    • want them to stop the practice in the beginning to deal with the offenders at once before a case of actual assault unfolds
    • Debate whether to flog the youths before an assault occurs in anticipation, Mr Makinson, ‘ I think some assault should be committed first’
    • Youthful Offenders Bill, where a youthful offender is proved before a court to have committed an offence punishable by the court the offender can be a) whipped, b) fine the parent c) order the parent to pay to any person injured by the offence compensation not exceeding 5 pounds d) order the parent to give security for the behaviour of the offender- the responsibility is taken out of hands of the offender and greater focus on parental responsibility – which hints at a more serious social problem as the root for crime
    • Parent has to be summoned in front of court as though they had been charged- criminal shame for the whole family, whole family involved
    • Specifies the material of the instrument used for whipping- trying to enact a more uniform procedure

    Old Bailey Source-
    FRANCIS ELLIOT, BENJAMIN HAZLER, Theft > shoplifting, 26th November 1838.
    73. FRANCIS ELLIOT and BENJAMIN HAZLER were again indieted for stealing, on the 31st of October, 1 box, value 1d.; 8 shillings, and 4 sixpences; the goods and monies of Ann Munro.
    ANN MUNRO . I live in Grosvenor-place, and am a grocer. On the 31st of October, about eight o’clock, I missed a box, four sixpences, and eight shillings—this is the box—(looking at one.)
    JOHN LEGG . I was on duty about a quarter before eight o’clock that evening, and saw Elliot go down on his hands into the prosecutrix’s shop-Hazler was outside for a quarter of an hour talking to him opposite the window before he went in—Elliot came out and joined Hazier again—I went up and asked what they were doing in the shop, they said, “Nothing”—I found the box in Elliot’s pocket, with the money in it, not three minutes after I saw him go round to the till.
    ELLIOT*— GUILTY . Aged 12.
    HAZLER*— GUILTY . Aged 11.
    Transported for Seven Years to the Juvenile Prison.
    - not treated sympathetically, seen as irrelevant
    - not emphasis on why they did the crime striking especially considering their ages
    - Juvenile prison- punitive rather than remedial issue

    02 Mar 2017, 20:54

  8. Robin Sykes

    The Seven Curses of London, by James Greenwood, 1869

    Greenwood opens this chapter on Juvenile thieves by remarking that there is no point worrying about those criminals that are established because he describes how the ‘grave yawns’ for them. Instead, he stresses the need to be concerned with those who were ‘feeble toddlers on the road that leads to the hulks.’ Greenwood emphasises the need to understand the downward journey Juvenile criminals take. In particular, he underlines how many were bred and nurtured by their parents that they inherited bad characteristics in the same way that a physical disease gets passed down. Additionally, continuing with the idea of nurturing, the source picks up on the fact that when children are left to fend for themselves, they are taken on by thief-trainers and come under ‘no good moral influence.’

    The author hints at importance of educating these children by stressing how without it, these children would just follow in their parent’s footsteps: ‘If no ray of right and truth ever penetrates, and he grows into the use of his limbs and as much brains as his brutish breeding affords him, and with no other occupation before him than to follow in the footsteps of his father the thief—how much more hopeless is his case?’ Without a means of knowing that what they are doing is wrong, the source stresses that they cannot help themselves; instead, support needs to be brought in for the children. Greenwood reinforces the fact that these Juvenile cases exist by underlining the areas of London in which they operate and stating that they ‘swarm like mites in rotten cheese’ in such locations.

    Greenwood underlines that the significant obstacle in enacting change was that Juvenile crime had ‘attracted very little attention on the part of our law makers.’ That said, Lord Romilly in the house of Lords suggested that an experiment could be attempted in which repeat offenders were taken away and placed under state protection where they would receive education and even given a trade. However, such suggestions were not entirely popular as habitual thieves would receive domestic relief, appealing to their perceived selfish nature.

    Finally, the source attacks the press and especially how they glorified robbers and cut-throats. Greenwood sees the press, with its reach and sensationalist writings, as poison that could turn children to a life of crime. He likens the press to a contagious disease such as cholera and typhus and finishes the chapter by stating: ‘a tainted scrap of rag has been known to spread plague and death through an entire village.’

    02 Mar 2017, 22:42


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