Counting crimes or counting people: some implications of mid-nineteenth century British police returns

Williams, Chris (2000). Counting crimes or counting people: some implications of mid-nineteenth century British police returns. Crime, History and Societies, 4(2) pp. 77–93.

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Abstract

Police returns for the city of Sheffield, 1844-1862, underpin the case that the arrest is a better base for analysis than the ‘crime’. The number of convictions for indictable offences is less than 5% of the total of arrests, which are dominated by offences related to disorder rather than to property, violence, or regulation. Age profiles of those convicted on indictment are different from those arrested. Treatment through the criminal justice process - itself capable of constructing some measurements by retrospective labelling - differed markedly by gender, which was also differentially affected by the extension of summary jurisdiction in the 1840s and 1850s. Modelling the cumulative impact of arrests leads to the conclusion that by the 1860s, a surprisingly large number of men would have had experience of arrest.

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