Catching the Criminal
The Victorian period saw great changes in how people were caught, arrested and charged to appear in court. The police force, as we know it today, did not exist until 1856. Before then, most places had only an unpaid parish constable to keep order. ...
Witnesses, Lawyers and Juries
A person on trial today will have been arrested and charged by the police. Then the public prosecution service will have decided to bring the case to court. The accused will have access to a defence lawyer and legal advice. Life was very different...
During the 19th century, gaols' buildings and daily life changed dramatically to reflect the beliefs of the time. Prison regimes came to be based on the concepts of separation, silence, hard labour and moral guidance.
The Courts and Judiciary
Sentences and Punishments
In the early nineteenth century, court conditions and the treatment of both the victim and the accused was very different from today. Trials in court were often very quick. Prosecutors, judges and jurors had more power and choice than they do...
The Victorians were very worried about crime. Levels rose sharply towards the end of the 18th century and continued to rise through much of the 19th century. Offence
s went up from about 5,000 per year in 1800 to about 20,000 per year in 1840.
Transportation was an alternative punishment to hanging. Convicted criminals were transported to the colonies to serve their prison sentences. It had the advantages of removing the criminal from society and being quite cheap - the state only had to...
Crime, Poverty and Reforms
At the end of the 18th century it was not just crime that was increasing but also poverty. The industrial revolution made many people rich but for many poor families (both in rural and urban areas) life was the worst it had been for a long time.