February 16, 2017

Friday group reading on juvenile crime

Please could you read the following:

James - Cox & Shore

Anna B - Davies

Rachel - Duckworth

Lewis - Gillis

Dan - King

Ellie - Koven

Alice - Gooderson

Helen - Lerman

Ella - Pickard

Victoria - Margarey

Kieran - May

Anna S - Shore (Trouble with boys)

Robin - Shore (Cross coves)


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  1. H. Shore, The trouble with boys: gender and the invention of the juvenile offender in early nineteenth century Britain

    Shore’s chapter examines the gendered nature of the nineteenth century discourse on juvenile crime, concentrating on the strong relationship between masculinity and maturity which frequently occurs in the portrayal of delinquent boys. Although these portrayals represented a very particular representation of the male juvenile delinquent , the terminology of juvenile crime, according to Shore, was rarely consistent; juvenile offender, juvenile delinquent, juvenile criminal, young offender, criminal children and child were used interchangeably as descriptive terms. The age of the delinquent, similarly, varied from text to text. Nineteenth century debates pinpointed the nearly to mid teens as the prime time for offending, but the legal definition of juvenile changed from one report to another, and from one year to another. Hence, it is misleading to assume a definite age for a definition of juvenile crime, yet the limit of sixteen and under is set by the Juvenile Offender Act of 1850.

    The period of the nearly nineteenth century, Shore claims, formed a, ‘crucial watershed in the evolution of models of male and female juvenile crime’. Population rise, urbanization, poverty and demobilisation inter-reacted leading to a moral panic about such crime. This period thus experienced an ‘invention’ of the juvenile delinquent; the juvenile became a definable entity. It was from the 1810s onwards that consistent representations and inquires surrounding the juvenile delinquent started to appear.

    Direct comparisons between juvenile boys and girls: boys were measured by the levels of cockiness, boldness and aggression; girls by the degree of maturity and sexuality – ‘the capacity to corrupt in the manner of a childish Eve’.

    Taking representations of male juveniles further, two physical types are most common in contemporary texts: 1) ‘a loutish, brutal thug’, preferred in cases where juvenile boys were associated with violence; 2) ‘the bold, bright, cocky, alert boy juvenile’, possessing a sort of native intelligence. The latter was a commonly used stereotype, and one that can be seen in popular literature such as Dickens’s descriptions of the Artful Dodger.

    The age of the juvenile delinquent is important in his portrayal: is he a child or a premature adult? The conflict between childishness and pre-mature maturity was emphasized in the description of juvenile pastimes and actions. There were commonly references, for example, to boys smoking, drinking, gambling, attending the theatre, bullying, and cheeking authority. These accounts are caught within a conflict in the portrayal of boyish activities and that of threatening behaviour or disorder.

    The female delinquent, on the other hand, was portrayed quite differently. A female acquaintance was referred to as a girl, mistress, flash-girl or jomer; the presence of female company provided the step between immaturity and maturity that a boy apparently sought. Most often it was the female delinquent who acted as the corrupter; there were few references to boys corrupting girls. Shore describes this as the, ‘stereotypical Eve relationship’. Simultaneously, however, girls were seen to have a susceptible and tender nature, which rendered them, ‘more completely diseased.. when .. perverted to evil’. In short, when a girl turned to crime, she was considered far more dangerous to society than the other sex.

    19 Feb 2017, 15:26

  2. Ellie Martin

    Seth Koven, ‘Borderlands’ in Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, Mothers of a New World

    Koven outlines in this chapter of this book how the emergence of social welfare in Britain, and particularly the development in childcare provisions was the story of local government, private voluntary societies, and individual initiative as well as the story of the emergence and growth of central state bureaucracies that usually characterises the 19thCE, and particularly the role of women in these groups.

    Victorian middle-class women’s voluntary associations linked the private, female world of household and family to the public, male-dominated world of politics. They not only defined new social needs such as juvenile reformatories, schools for ‘cripples,’ and school- health clinics, but created policies, procedures, and institutions to address them. These reform movements were all an expression of class and gender norms in relation to the developments in early industrialised capitalism, particularly following the Regulation of the Mines Act of 1842 which was designed to protect society’s most vulnerable and dependent members from exploitation; working class, women, and children.

    Mary Carpenter can be taken as the best example relating to work regarding Juvenile criminals. She founded the Ragged School in middle of the 19thCE which was established as a rehabilitation centre for juvenile delinquents. She wrote articles and books calling for the creation of a state-run institutional apparatus to rehabilitate juvenile offenders through education, love, and moral discipline free from the corrupting influence of hardened adult criminals.

    In 1854 – an act was passed that established the foundations of a national system of juvenile reformatories. Despite her ardent protests, all juvenile offenders were still sent to prison for at least 14 days, and hence exposed to the demoralising influences of adult criminals.

    We can see how, in the 19thCE, issues regarding social welfare provision channeled middle-class women’s activism into a traditionally female area of expertise, while providing mechanisms by which middle-class women could impose their domestic ideals on working-class women and children.

    21 Feb 2017, 13:47

  3. Anna Blackbourn

    A. Davies, ’”These viragoes are no less cruel than the lads”: young women, gangs and violence in late Victorian Manchester and Salford’, British Journal of Criminology, 39 (1999)
    Davies shows how press reports and court records document the occasional participation of young female gangs in confrontations with rival gang and frequent involvement in collective assaults upon local people and the police
    Female gang members were loudly condemned as ‘vixens’ ‘viragoes’ and Amazons’ in local press, criticised by magistrates for displaying ‘unwomanly’ behaviour
    However they generally received less stringent sentences than ‘disorderly’ young men
    Magistrates appear to have followed local social commentators in viewing young women as marginal figures in the local gang conflicts, but also seem to have shared a broader Victorian perception of women as more malleable creatures than men
    Youth gangs were a concern in many British cities in the late 19th c (72)
    Historiographical treatments have reproduced the contemporary assumptions about the centrality of young men, replicated in sources ‘lads’ (72)
    In accounts women were included mainly as the pretext for an altercation rather than participants themselves (72) shown in reports by the Manchester Guardian which stated how this was the ‘natural’ female role, causing the conflict or being in the audience, reduced to feminine roles- this was also reproduced by Steve Humphries identifying the young women as girlfriends of male gang members, brought into focus through their sexuality- Davies wants to disprove this and highlight how young women played a more active part in gang conflicts than has previously been discussed (73)
    Only a small minority of those convicted of gang-related crimes of violence in Manchester and Salford were female- so accounts may suggest exclusively male (74)
    Local press provides evidence of both young women’s occasional participation in confrontations between rival gangs, and participation in assaults upon local people and police officers (74)
    Label ‘moll’ is highly misleading if it is used to signify a passive female role as the ornamental property of a violent male (74)
    Female criminals were judged in Victorian courts against the extent to which their behaviour contravened dominant norms of femininity (naturally gentle, submissive and morally pure)- fallen women, moral menace (74)
    Given moral lectures by magistrates but given less stringent sentences than male counterparts- less of a danger to ‘the public’ or less responsible, magisterial concern with moral welfare of young women was manifested in a determination to remove female gang members from the corrupting environment of the streets- to stop their moral decline. Thus they were more willing to consider alternative punishments (74)
    Most affrays took place in the streets or on ‘crofts’ (patches of open ground) within working-class residential districts, though at the weekend also took place in music-halls, and nearby beer houses (75)
    Davies identifies a clear trend from the reports of scuttling in the local press of the predominance of young males amongst those charged for gang-related crimes of violence (75)
    Davies argues it’s possible that press reports lead us to underestimate the extent of young women’s involvement- because of them being less likely to face arrest (76)
    Cases involving female scuttlers tended to be clustered in the periods when the reported frequency and intensity of youth-gang violence was highest, e.g. 1870s, then 1889-1892. (76)
    Gangs & masculinity- Toughness was widely recognised in working-class districts as one of the principal manly virtues- young men on the brink of adulthood wanted to assert their masculinity in highly visible settings (76)

    22 Feb 2017, 23:32

  4. Anna Blackbourn

    Davies cont.
    Working-class women not passive, dominate street life of w-c neighbourhoods, fought in streets but to fight in public endured the risk of losing their claim to respectability in a culture which tended to attach shame rather than prestige to violent women (76)
    Manly authority were expected to restore order between 2 women fighting (77)
    Female scuttlers, like male counterparts, tended to be single, and in their mid-to late teens, normally factory operatives – reasonable freedom before marriage but obviously less than men because of domestic duties. Had disposable income, and time and they spent much of their free time in peer-group activities. (78)
    As public spaces, the streets were colonised by young women as well as young men, police had to make several attempts to control disorderly behaviour (78)
    Case of Makinson, who consistently discriminate on grounds of gender when dealing with cases of disorder, issuing forthright condemnation of ‘disorderly girls’ but then imposing relatively lenient sentences, more concerned with the damage to their characters (79)
    With the knowledge that young women sometimes chose to settle their own disputes by fighting in the streets, it is thus unsurprising =g that young women formed an active minority of those convicted of gang-related crimes of violence reported in the local press (80)
    Cases, like Bradford 1877, of frequent disturbances caused by 2 rival gangs of both sexes, same for Gorton and Openshaw June 1889, and Salford 1890. (80)
    Most notorious female scuttler was Hannah robin, emerged in police court news columns of the Manchester Press in 1892 both as a scuttle in her own right but also as the ‘sweetheart ‘of William Willan, a Manchester youth who had been sentenced to death for the wilful murder of a rival in a scuttling affray in Ancoats. One of 4 women to be charged with ‘disorderly conduct’ following an incident in the city centre (80)
    Inspector Drysdale claimed that the neighbourhood of Lower Mosey Street (central entertainment district in which a number of music-halls and beer houses were located) was infested by gangs of scuttlers… hardly a night passed without a fight of this kind taking place. (81)
    Robin and her companions were each sentenced to a month’s imprisonment with hard labour, Davies says these were exceptionally harsh sentences for ‘disorderly conduct’ and the judges were most likely swayed by her boyfriend (81)
    November 1876, rare report of a street robbery by members of a scuttling gang, 4 female scuttlers from Greengate were convicted of assaulting a local married woman and stealing her shawl and her purse containing 5 shillings. 2 of the 4 accused held previous convictions. Court was in doubt of the prisoner’s real ages, if they were established as juveniles the would have been committed to an industrial school. Davies queries whether there was the possibility that young women lied about their ages in order to avoid the lengthy custodial sentences (81-2)
    Description of the young women as ‘amazons’ is significant as it illustrates how older working men, like middles class newspaper editors, resorted to a highly exotic vocabulary to describe violent young women (85)
    Makinson (magistrate) provides multiple demonstrates of relative lenience towards young women convicted of crimes of violence (86)
    Conclusions- we must be cautious to overstate the restrictive effects of Victorian gender ideology. Gang violence does appear to have been an overwhelmingly masculine concern, yet young women also featured as both perpetrators and victims in sufficient numbers to suggest at least some blurring o the association of toughness and fighting prowess with masculinity (87)
    Clear evidence of gender discrimination in the sentencing, females received less severe sentences than male counterparts, less of a threat of violence (87)

    22 Feb 2017, 23:34

  5. Helen Oakes

    Paul Lerman, Policing Juveniles in London: Shifts in guiding discretion 1893-1968

    This source covers the late 19th century before moving on to talk more about 20th century policing. Lerman uses editions of ‘General Orders and Regulations’ which guided Metropolitan Police policies from 1829 to convincingly argue that there was an official written policy of discouraging the formal charging of juveniles prior to 1931. Before 1893, there was harsher treatment of juvenile crime due to a pro-institutional policy, also seen in other areas of Victorian life. However, 1893 was a turning point. In this year, the ‘General Orders’ book instructed policemen to avoid confinement of minors in cells and instructed them that they might ‘caution’ instead of applying for a summons. By 1899, instructions were issued to prepare separate charge sheets for children under 12 and in 1903 these were extended. From then, charge sheets included five types: (under 12s), (indictable/non indictable) offences 12-16 (boys/girls). 1908 legislation changed juvenile court hearings by advising that children in custody should be heard first. Finally, by 1910, Station Officers and Superintendents were officially put on notice that formally charging young offenders was an exception rather than a rule.

    Lerman also uses statistics to support his thesis- these stats show a declining rate of juveniles taken into custody for court purposes up to 1915. He argues that at this point wartime vigilance may have influenced arrest policies. Rates declined from 92 per 100000 in 1893 to 40 per 100000 by 1912.

    This article would be more persuasive if it mentioned other reasons for a possible actual decline in juvenile detention, rather than simply lower rates of prosecution. For example, changes in obligatory education may have also played a part.

    23 Feb 2017, 11:56

  6. Susan Margaery: ‘The invention of juvenile delinquency in early 19th century England’
    Margery focuses on the relationship between juvenile delinquency and changes in criminal law between the 1820s and 1850s. She does this because she feels there has been a historical neglect of the topic, and those who have written about it such as J.J. Tobias all accept the ‘highly coloured’ portraits by the property owning and law-enforcing commentators, and Margaery believes these interpretation are formed out of general fears of social disruptions.
    The first change she notes is how the presumption that a child under the age of 14 was deemed incapable of forming the intent to commit a crime fell into disuse. This can be seen in the attitudes of police magistrates too, with one remarking in 1852 that…
    ‘The characters of children bought up in town are so precariously developed that I should find it difficult to mention any age at which they should not be treated as criminals.’
    Furthermore, by committing juveniles to prisons it was in many ways an attempt by magistrates to try and curb poverty and destitution. There were children as young as 12 who were sent to prison for begging, or convicted of not being able to account of themselves.
    Secondly, a range of statutes passed at the time criminalised a whole range of behaviour peculiar to the young. The acts that were particularly damning for the young were:
    • The Vagrant Act
    • The Malicious Trespass Act
    The Vagrancy Act made it a criminal offence to be a ‘suspected person or reputed thief.’ Similarly the Malicious Trespass Act meant that ‘entering into any orchard garden, etc., and carrying away any trees, plants, shrubs, fruit or vegetables…a felony punishable by transportation.’ Margaery describes this as making kids were transformed from being ‘nuisances’ to ‘criminal offenders’.
    The most explicitly discriminating Act was undoubtedly the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, which made it an illegal offence to fly a kite in a public place, or playing games ‘to the annoyance of the inhabitants or passengers’, or make slides in the ice of snow. This in Margaery’s opinion was an attack on the poor and labouring classes and it made London’s street-children particularly vulnerable to arrest.
    The third change was a further effect of Peel’s efforts to make the administration of the criminal law more efficient. Margaery is openly very critical in the Peel administrations harsh criminal legislations. For example, the Larceny Act passed extended the judicial powers of the magistracy. This created a confusion in cases of which the juvenile was privileged. In some cases magistrates would dismiss children regardless of the offence, yet in other children would be treated savagely. This can be seen in one prison where among the offenders who were convicted as ‘reputed thieves’, 37 of those were children aged 7 and a further 87 who were 8.

    23 Feb 2017, 12:32

  7. Jeannie Duckworth, Fagin’s Children: Criminal Children in Victorian England

    I focused on Duckworth’s evaluation of education in the nineteenth century and how this related to juvenile crime. Duckworth argues that many lower class children were not given a systematic education, care or industrial training, meaning they could not support themselves or earn a living in the future. The reason as to why many children were on the streets in the nineteenth century due to the lack of regular schooling was because 1) Sunday schools often largely confined to more industrious and respectable families, and 2) most provision for weekday schools to educate the poor were left to dame schools and charities – but required small weekly payment – obstacle for families who could not afford it or did not value education. Poor children had the opportunities to go to ragged schools (funded), however schools did not stop children committing crimes – estimated 1/3 of children in these schools were directly or indirectly connected with the criminal class. Equally Duckworth notes that as ragged schools relied on voluntary contributions it meant many could not afford well-qualified teachers, so had to often make use of their monitor system by having older pupils teach younger pupils.
    As well as education Duckworth also states that the rapid increase in population, particularly urban areas, created great amount of juvenile destitution leading to petty crime. Following the growing population and increasing crime rate, dangerous districts known for crime began to develop. Police did not always patrol these dangerous districts; children from there exposed to fights and disturbances so regarded that behaviour as ordinary. Children growing up in these areas were trained as pick-pockets as early as 5 years old, either taught by relatives, companions or specialist trainers.

    23 Feb 2017, 14:14

  8. Dan Ewers

    Peter King, ‘The Rise of Juvenile Delinquency in England 1780-1840: Changing Patterns of Perception and Prosecution’, Past & Present, 160 (1998), pp. 116-166

    Concerns over juvenile delinquency rose to prominence between 1780s-1830s, new methods of dealing with juvenile delinquency employed during this time – expansion of magistrate powers, new acts against certain criminal minority groups e.g. The Malicious Trespass Act of 1820 and 1827, Vagrancy Acts of 1822-4, expansion of informal summary jurisdiction meant increased numbers of juveniles who were imprisoned / processed by the courts system, early 1800s shows considerable shift in concerns over juvenile property theft, changes driven by changing urban centres and industrial / commercial concerns over property, regional variations must be considered – urban centres not same as rural centres in respect to expansion / punishment of juvenile crime,

    King outlines three initial problems – that of defining ‘juvenile’, that of defining ‘crime’, and the lack of systematic statistical evidence, ‘juvenile’ problematic as often age range varied from under 14, to 0-17, to mid-20s in some cases, ‘crime’ problematic as many data sets only included felony crimes rather than lesser property crimes in earlier records, evidence is a problem due to lack of systematic evidence keeping prior to 1834 in which nationwide county-based statistical data was made available

    Growing discourse concerning juvenile delinquency was highly gendered – boys more likely than girls, proportion of indicted offenders who were women fell in almost every part of England in first third of 19th century, deviant careers of both boys and girls were stereotyped – ‘The boys mostly become thieves and the girls prostitutes’ – assumption of 1817 parliamentary committee, also Committee for Investigating the Alarming Increase of Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis in 1815 limited focus of investigations to boys

    King argues that the emerging fears of juvenile delinquency came from a number of judicial, material, and discursive changes – changing employment models for young people, changing economic basis for cities, philanthropic energies, reforming agendas, changing attitudes to childhood, changing administration of criminal justice system

    23 Feb 2017, 15:53

  9. Lewis Boyce

    The Evolution of Juvenile Delinquency in England, 1890-1914
    John Gillis

    In the late nineteenth century juvenile crime and delinquency was associated with the poor, and the children of the poor that engaged in these activities were considered an entirely different race to their more affluent counterparts. However by 1917 youngsters of all social rankings were thought to share characteristics of trouble and disobedience. The age of these youths that are considered the most easily corruptible and malleable were between the ages of 14 and 18, and efforts were made to combat youth delinquency in a number of ways.

    Despite increases in the number of children tried for crimes, Gillis maintains that this was not the result of an increase in youth aggression or violence, but a change in the ways that youth disobedience was treated. It may seem that youth crime was increasing at a faster rate than adult crime, but this was the result of changes in the methods of policing. Instead of dealing with issues on the spot, there was a new willingness to prosecute youths by the state. Schools were also causing more young people to appear before the courts, and it is noted that this extended to children across the social spectrum. The decrease in respect for the traditions of the gown and the proper way to behave as an undergraduate in Oxford created a culture of rowdyism that included all types of children.

    The ideal youth at this time was considered the organised youth, and so the creation and proliferation of youth clubs is in line with the victorian way of thinking. Developments in youth work created a sense of social respectability among some youths and clubs such as the Boys’ Brigades and the Scouts helped to quell some of the older generations anxieties regarding youth delinquency. However these groups often contained more middle class than lower class children, and when lower class youths were recruited, they were often found to be unreliable. A sizeable minority, mostly poor, resented the interference of officials in their children’s lives, especially if they were just about to leave school or start work.

    Just as there is today, there was a distinction between the proper, rule abiding ‘good boys’ and the more unruly children, each with their own culture and rules. The youth clubs often had strict rules, and expulsion resulted not only in a ban from the club, but an end of association with the ‘good boys’. The spread of these clubs helped to establish moral distinctions between the rough and respectable youths, and in the short term, actually increased tensions between the older and younger generations. Often, the greater the pressure there was from these organised activities, the more the youths clung to old, childlike habits, like swimming naked, as a form of defiance from authority.

    23 Feb 2017, 16:55

  10. Becoming Delinquent: British and European Youth, 1650-1950 – Pamela Cox and Heather Shore

    This edited book attempts three main tasks: to redress reconsider the idea that a ‘delinquent youth’ first emerged in the nineteenth century, to understand the ways in which this group was treated, and to explore a comprehensive study of it across Europe, as opposed to a single country.

    The text poses that most criminology studies into a delinquent youth assume that due to various legislative changes in the nineteenth century, it was as this point that an adolescent stage of life was first envisioned, and that the delinquent youth need be treated in a different manner from adults who break the law. However, Cox and Shore suggest that trends of this sort can be ‘identified in the two centuries prior to the nineteenth.’ A core argument for the acknowledgement of a delinquent youth is that during the period the ‘innocent’ child became a well-established feeling, and one which the youth who didn’t fit this category were used as an exception to prove the rule. Simply, they suggest the idea that children and adults were different was already established, but certainly extended in the nineteenth century, as visible in the legislative changes.

    As with most of the other studies we’ve looked at across the course show, there are two main understanding of the penal system: punitive and reformative, a distinction no different in the juvenile system according to Shore and Cox. Depending on the period and location, the penal systems would represent one more than the other, although the nineteenth was largely more punitive than reformative in all areas. Punitive being punishment and incarceration for the figure who had transgressed the rules, whereas reformative, especially in relation to the youth, suggested a character who could be saved with the correct education and guidance they had not received before the crime.

    Largely, the more geographically comprehensive study of Europe in Cox and Shore’s work is beneficial to be able to draw parallels between Seville, France, and Belgium in the 18th & 19th centuries, or across time from nineteenth-century France to Vichy France.

    23 Feb 2017, 17:38

  11. M. May, Innocence and Experience: The Evolution of the Concept of Juvenile Delinquency in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

    This piece looks at the beginnings of the conception of juvenile delinquency, exploring it through social, economic and cultural lenses. May frames the work around the various arguments that were put forward throughout the period and the effects these had on the conception of delinquency. Indeed, at the beginning of the century, children were treated the same as adults under the law. Precedent was built up through doli capax: the strength of a delinquent’s understanding and judgment over their measure in years and days. At the age of 7 children could not be held responsible. 7 – 14 presumed innocent unless prosecution proved they were able to distinguish between good and evil. Generally observed, otherwise same retributive punishments as adults graded by statute and judicial precedent per the magnitude of the offence. Age by itself gave no special treatment and they were instead tried with the full publicity and formality of the judge and jury or magistrate.

    The State of Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act 1854 and 1857 marked a radical change in penal policy. Juvenile delinquents were recognised as a ‘distinct social phenomenon’ and the state now accepted responsibility for children who required care and attention. They were regarded as beings within their own right. This was the assertion of new state powers within the parent-child relationship in Victorian society. Herbert Samuel’s Children Act 1908 argued that a child’s offence was in fact different from an adult crime. It boiled down to questions of responsibility. May argues historians have neglected the subject despite these innovations. The Reformatory Schools movement has been viewed as a product of religious concern and humanitarian escapades. Whilst it was certainly widespread, the distinction between adult and child had more complex motives according to May.

    The swelling prison population eventually revealed young offender problem. 1823 brought the introduction of classification by character and offence but not age. As mass contamination reduced, the special problem of young offenders’ was highlighted. This was led by new techniques in prison management coupled with changing attitudes to imprisonment. Shifted from nature of offence to the criminal themselves. Soon, the growing child population became an embarrassment to reforms. Prisons were increasingly criticised for corruption of the young. This was rooted in contemporary theory. Associationist psychology maintained that children developed in response to external stimuli. Children ‘positively harmed’ by the experience of prison.

    A combination of judicial self-interest, the need to reduce costs, and a growing awareness of the special rights of children thus produced the first statutory distinction between children and adults. There was a new awareness of nature and extent of juvenile delinquency. The rapid rise in crime was supposedly down to juveniles, confirmed by the systematisation and rationalisation of prison records. Yet, the absence of accurate records before led to assertion of rapid rise in crime anyways. Redgrave revealed a 500% rise in crime 1805 – 1842. This highlighted the difference between lower class parentage and middle-class parentage, which became a significant proportion of the debate. This prompted an educational element as the picture of delinquency built up around geographical tendencies and portraits of slum children. Mary Carpenter used overly romantic conceptions of childhood to galvanise public opinion. This brought about a reevaluation of doli capax, with discipline in line with a child’s nature. The sharp division in opinions led to legislative compromise. Carpenters proposals for Reformatory schools were accepted and the legal age of delinquency set at 16. However old traditions were still strong and many ignored the reforms.

    23 Feb 2017, 22:20

  12. Ella Rees

    • 19th century saw outburst of concern over rise of juvenile criminal class – symbolic of social breakdown and domestic instability.
    • Contemporary social reports on the problem from philanthropic institutions, newspapers and Parliament were widely disseminated and increased anxiety. These reports were vital in shaping the reform of the penal system. Usually based on a series of interviews of young criminals, the reports would describe the children’s background, the offence committed, their journey into the justice system and their treatment in jail. Criticized harsh treatment of children in prison and high rates of reoffending, arguing that reform not punishment was the way forward.
    • Reformers like Mary Carpenter got involved in the process of designing a new and separate juvenile justice system. For the first time criminal law would distinguish between young and adult offenders and legislation ruling specifically over the treatment, trial and punishment of juvenile delinquents was adopted.
    • Background: children over the age of seven were treated and sentenced like adults. This was heavily criticised because in failing to segregate children from adults, prisons brought juvenile offenders in contact with hardened criminals. It was feared that such association would result in the ‘contamination’ or ‘corruption’ of children.
    • Carpenter wanted to create institutions which would reform young offenders instead of punishing them. Recognised that most young offenders were victims of their circumstances and should be offered a way out of the destructive environment; no one was beyond redemption. Believed that current prison system was terrible for children’s mental and physical well-being.
    • Carpenter and other likeminded reformers wanted to set up Reformatory Schools, which would serve as a half-way point between prison and educational schools. Focus on moral education and learning a useful trade.
    • Heavily influenced by Christian beliefs – God loves everyone, even young offenders, and they would reform if they were treated with love and respect. Forceful and corporeal punishment was counter-productive – instead, teachers and guardians should set a high example of moral behaviour and encourage the children to emulate them. Only in relationships based on respect and mutual trust could reformation be achieved.
    • Needed Parliament’s help in order to: 1. Secure enough funding for these reformatory schools and 2. Get the legal authority to keep the children under the school’s influence (otherwise they could just leave and resume their life of crime.)
    • After sustained pressure and guidance from Carpenter and other experts/philanthropists, in 1854 Parliament passed the Youthful Offenders Act. The new legislation established that young offenders under the age of 16 would be, upon conviction, sent to reformatory schools to be detained. Parliament seems to have been largely convinced by the costs saved by reducing conviction rates.
    • Carpenter put her theories into practice by opening the Red Lodge in Bristol, a reformatory school for girls. Designed for girls under 14 who were described by Carpenter as ‘entirely devoid of any good principles of actions; particularly addicted to deceit both in words and actions [... ] and of violent passions.’
    • Girls given moral, religious and intellectual education, along with training as domestic servants. Also given charge of money, allowed to run errands etc as long as they behaved themselves. Based on principles of giving girls confidence by treating them with love and respect – girls would reciprocate by obeying rules and working hard. The Red Lodge was judged very successful by contemporaries – it produced lots of girls trained for a useful/suitable job, and stopped them reoffending/committing crimes.

    23 Feb 2017, 22:41

  13. Noisy and Dangerous Boys
    • The article investigates Birmingham’s sloggers and tracks their changes over the period from 1870 to 1900. Slogging was distinct from the rest of such disorder in Victorian streets in that it was to do with one group of boys and young men taking on another.
    • Slogging, itself, is a term only recently resurrected, as it has been overshadowed by the better-known term for turbulent Birmingham youth — peaky blinders. In the 1890s, a generic term for turbulent youth, peaky blinders, became current and — unlike sloggers — remained a part of Birmingham vocabulary well into the twentieth century.
    • Slogging in gangs must be seen as only one element in the vibrant and often criminal street-life of Victorian Birmingham.
    • In Birmingham the slogging gangs grabbed press attention in the early 1870s. These young, mainly male, sloggers or street-fighters were seen by the police in the streets in groups varying from a dozen to two hundred.
    • Birmingham was under-policed. Even when the police did happen upon a slog, working often in pairs in the worst parts of the town, and singly elsewhere — they rarely caught more than one or two sloggers. Occasionally, there was a tactic adopted to surround a group of sloggers. Even then the numbers arrested were seldom more than half a dozen. In view of both the under-reporting by the press and the over-stretched nature of policing, slogging was arguably a very understated phenomenon.
    • Different names for different local groups. Nottingham had its ‘lambs’, Manchester had its ‘scuttlers’; Liverpool had its ‘cornermen’ — a name that was used generically in other towns — then its ‘High Rippers’. London would become famous for its ‘pistol gangs’ — with many characteristics similar to Manchester’s scuttlers, and Birmingham’s sloggers. By about 1900, distinct gangs would become harder to identify and new generic terms would come to dominate — ‘hooligans’ in London, and ‘peaky blinders’ or ‘peakies’ in Birmingham. Such names would carry no more specific meaning than modern terms like ‘chavs’ or ‘hoodies’.
    • These slogging gangs were concerned to demonstrate toughness and ownership of street space. Control over girls has also been cited as a preoccupation.
    • Taking money from their victims appears to have been a subsidiary activity, rather than their raison d’être.
    • Most reports of gang activity concern boys, and Birmingham is no exception. Very few of those arrested for slogging were girls.
    • In terms of age-range, the sloggers include a higher age than might be expected. From the sample of those arrested, we can tell that sloggers were aged, principally, between thirteen and twenty-five. Nevertheless, the typical age of sloggers was seventeen in the early 1870s. By the late 1880s and 1890s, that had risen to eighteen or nineteen.
    • The declared occupations of these juvenile street-fighters read like a roll-call of Birmingham’s manual skills: brass caster, iron caster, fender maker, striker, hinge maker, filer, stamper, chandelier maker, gun polisher, coach builder, spectacle maker, glass blower.
    • Territoriality is universally regarded as a key concern of youth gangs,
    • Ethnicity is often a powerful stimulant to gang formation and warfare. Anti- Irish feeling.
    • Some places became slogging grounds, where boys from a number of areas met.
    • Real gangs would be expected to have headquarters. The lack of detailed evidence of such underlines the weakness of slogging organisation. Pubs and beer houses were obvious meeting-places, for trade clubs, gangs of thieves and even juvenile gamblers. Refreshment houses of all kinds attracted a young clientele.
    • There were clashes in the theatres and music halls, as well as in the street.
    • Accounting for the decline of slogging was that for the young it perhaps, was no longer fashionable and to the city’s rulers, such autonomous antics as slogging were no longer tolerable

    23 Feb 2017, 23:10

  14. Heather Shore, ‘Cross Coves, Buzzers and General Sorts of Prigs: Crime and the Criminal “Underworld” in the Early Nineteenth Century’, British Journal of Criminology, 39 (1999), 10-24

    Looking at Charles Dicken’s Fictional writing, we see him clearly alluding to the Criminal Underworld and, especially in Oliver Twist, we see how Juveniles were used by Fences as cheap labour (Fagan’s den). Heather Shore in this article covers both areas by examining the nature of the criminal underworld in the early nineteenth century, considering specifically the activities of young offenders within the criminal networks operating in the 1830s. Initially, Shore spends time understanding the problematic concept of the ‘criminal underworld’ or the networks and focuses of criminal exchange and communication that have been traditionally associated with urban life. She highlights how the criminal underworld historically belonged to a literary tradition which was constructed through journalism. These representations of the underworld were found in fiction with Charles Dicken’s writings, for example, being absorbed into the imaginations of many contemporaries. This leads to Shore questioning whether such an underworld existed and instead concluding that if a criminal community existed, it is unlikely that it took a physical and spatial form but rather was a network of lodging houses, pawnbrokers’ shops and public houses.

    This article ultimately considers two central issues: Firstly, the extent to which accounts of criminal lives were reliable which is done by explaining the origins of the sources. The primary sources Shore employs were drawn extensively upon interviews with juvenile offenders at two Metropolitan prisons and from interviews with boys of the prison hulk, Euryalus. Secondly, how the underworld functioned for both the criminals and police is examined though a focus on the locations from which young offenders operated, their response to the activities of receivers of stolen goods and fences, and on the allegations which they made about the operation and corruption of the Police.

    Overall, Shore offers a glimpse into the lives of juvenile criminals in the early nineteenth century. What the testimony of children who gave evidence in the 1830s shows us is that they had little control over their lives due to a range of factors including poverty, unemployment and underemployment. Their entrance into a lifestyle therefore left them completely at the mercy of adults including Fences and the police. The underworld did not disappear in the mid-nineteenth century but the streets were being regulated more effectively and children were being drawn into formal structures such as industrial schools.

    23 Feb 2017, 23:29


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