Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror

Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror

Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror

Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror

Synopsis

'In a work of immense scholarship, Beattie makes his case well... Beattie is able to display great craft, knowledge, insight and application in establishing his thesis. This is a major work which will prove of enduring importance.' -English Historical Review'Valuable new analysis of the changing forms of policing and prosecution... This is an exemplary study of the formation of policing and penal policy, which admirably examines the influence of all levels of government, from parliament and ministers on the one hand to watchmen, constables and thief-takers on the other.' -Continuity and Change'A book of immense scholarship which opens up new and important windows into crime and law enforcement in London, and by extension England, in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.' -The Economic History Review'In Policing and Punishment in London Beattie succeeds triumphantly in pursuing the linked themes of the importance of the experience of law enforcement in London, and of how the century after 1650 witnessed significant new developments in attitudes to crime... richly documented, immensely intelligent, and supremely well written book.' -The Economic History Review'John Beattie is among the finest exponents of this more historically sensitive approach to crime and punishment... Crime and the Courts in England 1660-1800(1986) - a pioneering study of trends in crime and prosecution in Surrey - may now be seen as a prelude to a masterpiece. Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750 bears all the marks of protracted archival digging followed by mature reflection... [It] is a splendid achievement.' -London Review of Books'Meticulously presented and thoroughly convincing work by an acknowledged master of his subject. It illuminates many dimly lit areas both in the history of the criminal justice system and in the governance of early modern London, and is likely to remain a standard work on both subjects for many years to come.' -Adam Fox, Times Literary SupplementThis pioneering study examines the considerable changes that took place in the criminal justice system in the century after the Restoration. Against a background of social and cultural change in the metropolis the author reveals how and why an alternative means of dealing with crime emerged in the policing of London, in the practices and procedures of prosecution, and in the establishment of new forms of punishment.

Excerpt

In a previous book, Crime and the Courts in England, 1660–1800 (1986), I set out to investigate two principal subjects: the character of prosecuted crime in two English counties, Surrey and Sussex, in the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries; and the way in which men and women accused of committing offences against property and serious violence against the person were dealt with by the courts. the first part of that book was devoted to an analysis of the criminal law, the changing levels of prosecutions over time at the courts of quarter sessions and assizes, and, as far as the evidence allowed, the relationship between prosecutions for property offences and the factors that determined the well-being of the working population. the second, and more extensive, section of the book examined the process by which prosecutions were undertaken— from the preliminary hearings held by justices of the peace, to the nature of trial, the character of juries, the influences shaping their verdicts, and the punishments imposed by the courts. What emerged was an argument about the relationship between the experience of crime and changes in the criminal law and the institutions and procedures by which it was put into effect.

The most general conclusion of that earlier book was that the criminal law and its administration not only changed in significant ways over this period but that many of the most important changes had taken place in the first half of the eighteenth century—well before, that is, the so-called 'age of reform' that was thought to have emerged only after 1760. Although there was little evidence of public debate having taken place and no sense that there had been organized campaigning of the kind that was to mark the late eighteenth-century reform endeavours, a number of fundamental changes had none the less been introduced into the law and criminal procedure in the early years of the century by a variety of statutes and ad hoc experiments and innovations designed to increase the deterrent capacities of the law and the courts. These included, perhaps most importantly, the establishment of the first non-capital punishments that the courts could impose on convicted felons, in the form of imprisonment at hard labour and transportation to the American colonies. They included, too, measures designed to encourage victims of robbery and other crimes to go to the trouble and expense of bringing prosecutions, a matter of the greatest significance in a system of justice that put the burden of prosecution entirely on the victim of the crime. It was also in this period that a fundamental alteration emerged in trials for felony, for it was only in the 1720s and 1730s that lawyers . . .

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