The Open UniversitySkip to content

Road traffic offending and an inner-London magistrates’ court (1913-1963)

Donovan, Pamela and Lawrence, Paul (2008). Road traffic offending and an inner-London magistrates’ court (1913-1963). Crime, History and Societies, 12(2) pp. 119–140.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (218kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


This article examines the impact of the growing number of prosecutions for road traffic offences at Clerkenwell Court in central London. The average number of cases heard in each courtroom remained stationary and additional traffic prosecutions were accommodated by reductions in prosecutions for drunkenness or disorderly behaviour and for regulatory offences. This change in police prosecution policy impacted on the court’s proceedings and increased the court’s workload because motorists were more likely than drunks to argue their cases and to employ legal representatives. Sentencing patterns, the memoirs of magistrates and court clerks and other published documents indicate that the court staff viewed traffic offending as essentially ‘regulatory’ and distinguished it from ‘serious crime’ except when somebody was killed or a court order was ignored. The court prioritised its own resources to deal with ‘serious crime’ at the expense of traffic prosecutions. The results of this study support Howard Taylor’s thesis that resource constraints had an important influence on police prosecution policies, but show that not only police resources but also court resources and the discretionary powers of individual magistrates were important factors in prosecution patterns.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2008 Droz
ISSN: 1422-0857
Keywords: road traffic; car; magistrate; court; crime; police; judiciary
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR)
Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC)
Item ID: 18497
Depositing User: Paul Lawrence
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2009 13:46
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2016 12:44
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU