Law breakers and law enforcers in the late Victorian city : Birmingham 1867-1877
This study, based on a sample of offenders coming before the summary court in Birmingham, 1867-77, looks at the processes of ostracism, exclusion, deprivation and punishment accorded to the lowest strata of society in the late Victorian city. It is argued that the identification and labelling of a criminal class was part of the effort to deny the relevance of class conflict by insisting on the relevance of moral distinctions. The first chapter seeks to plot the social ecology of crime through a comparison of a number of contrasting 'social areas' ranging from a high crime to a no-crime area. Differences in the social characteristics of the population living in these areas form the basis for explanations about differences in levels of reported crime, and of police attention. The second chapter deals with the law enforcement agencies of magistrates, Watch Committee and police - describing their personnel and their different priorities and strategies. In Part II we turn for the first time to the offenders. Chapter 3 concentrates on juvenile offenders, their of fences and social characteristics, and on the policy and provision made for them, as well as on sentencing practice, as carried out in Birmingham in the period. • Chapter 4 looks at the legislation for, and the definition of, the Habitual Criminal. In this section the main categories of offence under the Habitual Criminals Act are described as they occurred in Birmingham, as well as the trends in sentencing practice for these offences. The last chapter discuøses assault and other violent crimes, with particular attention to the rise in Street disorders and assaults on the police. The conclusion points out that a Strategy of exclusion was implemented by the urban elite for their 'criminal class' since this class presented no real political threat, while it came to serve a diminishing economic function.