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Victorian Crime and Punishment
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Timeline


1777John Howard and prison reform
Writes a book 'The State of Prisons in England and Wales' where he says that Prisons are in need of reform
1787Transportation to Australia
First fleet sails to Australia, taking 736 convicts
1798River Police
River police set up to patrol the River Thames in London
1800Theft
75% of all crimes are 'petty theft'
1808Pickpocketing
Law passed which stops the death penalty being used as a punishment for pickpockets
1811The Luddites
Unemployed workers try to destroy new factories and machinery which are threatening their jobs
1815Elizabeth Fry and prison reform
She begins working in Newgate Prison to improve conditions for women prisoners
1815Gaolers paid
Gaolers are paid by the Government, and no longer have to rely on what money they can get from prisoners to earn a living
1818Treadmill introduced
Prisoners walk around a wheel, grinding corn, etc, as a means of doing useful work
1819Peterloo
Soldiers kill protesters at a big protest rally in Manchester
1819The Six Acts
Severe punishments introduced for protesters
1820Flogging of women
Law passed stopping flogging of women in prison
1820sThe 'Bloody Code'
Over 200 offences could be punished by hanging
1820Cato Street Conspiracy
Some people attempt to blow up the Government, are caught and executed - by beheading
1820Beheading
The last prisoner sentenced to death by beheading is executed
1823Gaol Act
Prisons must be healthy, and that men and women prisoners are to be kept separate
1823Gaol Act
Women prisoners must have women warders
1824Gaol Sessions Act
Justices of the Peace made responsible for managing county gaols
1828Huntingdon Gaol
Huntingdon Gaol opens
1829Metropolitan Police
Sir Robert Peel sets up a police force for London – policemen are nicknamed 'peelers'
1830-31Captain Swing Riots
Farm workers, put out of work by the new threshing machines, wreck them and burn haystacks across the country
1831Reform Act Riots
The House of Lords blocks a bill that would give the vote to many more men, leading to riots across much of the country
1832Reform Act
Middle class men get the right to vote
1833Prison Inspectors
First prison inspectors appointed by the Government
1834Tolpuddle Martyrs
Farm Labourers in Dorset - who try to form a trade union to get higher wages – are transported to Australia
1835Police Forces in towns
Towns are allowed to set up their own police forces
1836Defence lawyers
Prisoners on trial for felony first allowed to have a lawyer to defend them
1837Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria becomes queen
1837Pillory
Pillory will no longer be used as a punishment
1838Parkhurst Prison opens
This is a prison designed especially for young offenders, to keep them separate from hardened criminals
1839Prison Rules
The Government makes rules that all prisons must follow
1839Police Forces in Counties
Counties are allowed to set up their own police forces
1840The 'Bloody Code'
Only 5 crimes could now be punished by hanging
1842Detectives
First non-uniformed police, called detectives, are set up at Scotland Yard in London
1842Pentonville Prison opens
A 'model prison' using the new methods of punishment - opens
1842-43Rebecca Riots
1847Juvenile Offences Act
Young people under 16 are to be tried in a special court
1850sSeparate System
Criminals are punished by keeping them in solitary confinement all the time they are in prison
1850sSilent System
Prisoners are allowed to mix with other prisoners, but must remain silent at all times
1852Transportation
Transportation ended as a punishment for women prisoners
1853Brixton Prison
Brixton opens as a prison solely for women prisoners
1854Reformatory School
Reform Schools are set up for children to stop them from committing crime again, and to teach them a trade
1856Police Forces
Government passes a law saying that every town in the country must now have a police force
1857Hulks
Government stops using hulks – old sailing ships – as prisons
1864Penal Servitude Act
Because of the increasing crime rate, tougher sentences and punishments, including electric shocks for those not working hard enough in prison, are introduced
1865Prison Act
Male prisoners made to spend at least 3 months of their sentence on the Treadmill or Crank
1867Witnesses
Prisoners on trial for felony are allowed to call witnesses for the first time
1868Transportation
Transportation ends as a punishment for men
1868Hanging
The last execution takes place in public. From now on they will all be inside the prison walls
1869Habitual Criminals Act
Some prisoners were let out early ‘on a ticket of leave.’ People were concerned that they were re-offending. If ‘ticket’ prisoners could not prove they had a job they were to be sent back to prison. The Act also set up a system of centrally recording all crime.
1869Imprisonment for Debt Act
Many people in debt were sent to prison until they could pay off their debts. This Act stopped that for most people
1870Police Helmets
Police helmets are introduced for the first time
1871Prevention of Crime Act
Introduced compulsory photographing of all prisoners
1872Stocks
Use of the stocks as a punishment stopped
1877National Prison Service
The Government now controls all prisons. They become 'Her Majesty’s prisons', controlled by the Home Secretary
1878Government control of prisons
All prisons will now be run by the Government
1898Statements
Prisoners on trial for felony can give sworn evidence for the first time.
1899Borstals
Special prisons for young people are set up
1900The 'Bloody Code'
Only two crimes – murder and treason – can now be punished by hanging
1901Finger printing
First use of finger printing in a criminal case
1901Edward VII
Edward VII becomes king

Additional resources for this page


  • Timeline (255 KB, Microsoft Word Document)