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Old November 1st, 2011, 03:23 PM   #1
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Exclamation Was victorian Britain a lawless society?


My homework question is was victorian britain a lawless society?

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At first the Police Force was not very popular. People were very concerned that the new police should not be like the military and therefore great care was taken to ensure that police constables did not look like soldiers. This is why peelers wore top hats instead of helmets and carried truncheons instead of rifles, although cutlasses were available for emergencies!Peel wanted to put the emphasis upon preventing crime, rather than punishing criminals.

Hanging, transportation, burning alive.

I have to have a balanced argument why it was and why it wasnt, i dont no how 2 put it toogethherrrrr?
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:24 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by vachoo View Post
My homework question is was victorian britain a lawless society?

Reasearch so far:
At first the Police Force was not very popular. People were very concerned that the new police should not be like the military and therefore great care was taken to ensure that police constables did not look like soldiers. This is why peelers wore top hats instead of helmets and carried truncheons instead of rifles, although cutlasses were available for emergencies!Peel wanted to put the emphasis upon preventing crime, rather than punishing criminals.

Hanging, transportation, burning alive.

I have to have a balanced argument why it was and why it wasnt, i dont no how 2 put it toogethherrrrr?
The Victorian period is a long period of time (over 60 years) and the answer changes over the period.

Yes the police had a distinctly non military look and its officers have non military ranks (unlike the US for instance).

The police were always unpopular and known for being corrupt and thuggish ( a popular song 'if you want to know the time ask a policeman lampoons the habit of policemen stealing watches from drunks)

Transportation was part of the early Victorian period and was completely stopped by 1868 and effectively in the 1850s

No one was burned alive during the Victorian period. The last person burned alive was 1720 and that was because of a mishandling by the executioner. The last intended burning was 1685.

If you want to discuss this further PM me.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:29 AM   #3
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Plenty of laws, but many a hopeless person, in the absence of "trickle-down" from the Empire's riches, resorted to crime out of desperation.

Am I right?
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:34 AM   #4

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You might want to point out to your teacher that 'ladies of the night' comprised the largest black market economy in Victorian London. I'd say it was fairly lawless in the poorer parts, check out a brief overview of 'Oliver Twist' by Dickens and 'Jack the Ripper' for a vague idea too.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:40 AM   #5

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Originally Posted by corrocamino View Post
Plenty of laws, but many a hopeless person, in the absence of "trickle-down" from the Empire's riches, resorted to crime out of desperation.

Am I right?
Yep,the low price of gin didn't help matters as it made the desperation even more necessary.
The East End of London was probably the worst place to be ,especially in the 1870's-1890's.
People were just left to rot,the workhouses were full,and even if they werent you could only stay 1 night and then they would kick you out to find somewhere else,to give the long queue of people wanting to come in a chance.

Also the landlords were almost criminal in the power they had over their 'tenants' and were making a massive profit.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:49 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl_of_Rochester View Post
You might want to point out to your teacher that 'ladies of the night' comprised the largest black market economy in Victorian London. I'd say it was fairly lawless in the poorer parts, check out a brief overview of 'Oliver Twist' by Dickens and 'Jack the Ripper' for a vague idea too.
Lawlessnes in London and other parts of the UK can be traced back further than the victorian era. From Covent Garden eastwards, poverty and squalor was rife and just the right climate for criminal activity. The Victorians inherited it to some degree, made worse by the Industrial polution and unsanitary living conditions.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:53 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by halomanuk View Post
Yep,the low price of gin didn't help matters as it made the desperation even more necessary.
The East End of London was probably the worst place to be ,especially in the 1870's-1890's.
People were just left to rot,the workhouses were full,and even if they werent you could only stay 1 night and then they would kick you out to find somewhere else,to give the long queue of people wanting to come in a chance.

Also the landlords were almost criminal in the power they had over their 'tenants' and were making a massive profit.
I have a copy of an old book entitled 'Mayhews Characters'. Each Chapter describes ordinary people and how they earned their living. In each example, these people were one step away from turning to crime in order to make their lives a little better.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:59 AM   #8

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I have a copy of an old book entitled 'Mayhews Characters'. Each Chapter describes ordinary people and how they earned their living. In each example, these people were one step away from turning to crime in order to make their lives a little better.
that was the norm i'm afraid SPERRO.
You might want to read (if you havent already ) The People of the Abyss by Jack London,which is a very very good read,as he actually went through the workhouse situation etc in disguise personally.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 08:09 AM   #9
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OK

for an essay I think you would do well to develop a theme where

1) Punishment develops away from flogging and transportation towards imprisonment (read about the panopticon) the number of crimes that one can be executed for falls dramatically and execution becomes humaner with the advent of the 'long drop'

2) Gradual social improvement as 'rookeries' are demolished and new housing built (read about st Giles rookery and Guinness trust housing.

3) religious movements such as the Oxford movement and the salvation army tackle drunkenness

4) improvements in detection make prosecution for crime more likley. Deceased sentences make guilty verdicts more likely.

5) UK becomes a wealthier society and the average working man is vastly better housed and paid by the end of the century

Victorian society becomes progressively less lawless over its 60+ years and explain why.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 08:12 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by halomanuk View Post
that was the norm i'm afraid SPERRO.
You might want to read (if you havent already ) The People of the Abyss by Jack London,which is a very very good read,as he actually went through the workhouse situation etc in disguise personally.
Thanks halo. The alternative to water was Gin, mostly out of fear of Cholera but with the advantage of getting inebriated. Depression and worry fueled this desire, much as it can do nowdays. A booming population without birth control also added to the problems. Machines replacing manual Labour is also a factor which must be taken into consideration.
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