One of the most striking changes in the penal culture of fin-de-siècle Europe was England's reform of adjudication and punishment. In this “de-moralization of criminality,” the system began to shed its punitive sentencing, which often saw minor offenders imprisoned with hard labor for weeks or months, to adopt a more moderate system of penalties. These concrete changes were intertwined with a broader shift in British criminological thinking from a “classical” view to a “positivist” one. The former held offending to be a rational, individual choice that required severe deterrents, whereas the latter saw criminality as a product of harsh economic and social conditions. This shift in dominant understandings of criminality prompted reformers, judicial officials, police, and policymakers to refocus on the causes of crime and its prevention, the offender as a subject, and the potential for treatment and rehabilitation through state intervention. A central practice of the resultant “penal-welfare complex” was supervised probation as a substitute for imprisonment. Scholars of penal reform have argued that the passage of the Probation of Offenders Act 1907, which initiated the professionalization of the probation service, was a key moment in this transition. With it, such arguments hold, England took a substantial step from having a discretionary, moralized criminal justice system toward having a standardized, bureaucratic one.
1. Wiener, Martin J., Reconstructing the Criminal : Culture, Law and Policy, in England, 1830–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 215–17.
2. Ibid., 226; Whitehead, Philip and Statham, Roger, The History of Probation: Politics, Power and Cultural Change 1876–2005 (Crayford: Shaw, 2006), 11–12.
3. Garland, David, Punishment and Welfare: a History of Penal Strategies (Aldershot: Gower, 1985), 65.
4. Although it should be noted that the new system also allowed for continued surveillance and regulation of the poor, absent the visible oppression of imprisonment. Vanstone, Maurice, “Mission Control: The Origins of a Humanitarian Service,” Probation Journal 51 (2004): 38; and Godfrey, Barry S. and Lawrence, Paul, Crime and Justice 1750–1950 (Cullompton, UK and Portland, OR: Willan, 2005), 85.
5. This rich source, the Rainer Foundation Archive, is now open for consultation at the Nottingham Galleries of Justice. Previous accounts of probation and penal reform in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century have offered some excellent insights into the early years of probation, but, adhering to the sources available at the time, they have focused either on the years following the Criminal Justice Act 1925, when the probation system was comprehensively overhauled, professionalized, and subsumed under centralized control from the Home Office, or on the postwar period. The limited analysis of the early years of probation has been based on Parliamentary records, papers issued by the Howard Association, memoirs, and a few published early accounts. King, Joan, The Probation Service, 2nd ed. (London: Butterworths, 1964); Bochel, Dorothy, Probation and After Care: Its Development in England and Wales (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1976); Haxby, David, Probation: a Changing Service (London: Constable, 1978); McWilliams, William, “The Mission to the English Police Courts 1876–1935,” The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 22 (1983): 129–47; Radzinowicz, Leon and Hood, Roger, A History of English Criminal Law and its Administration, Vol. 5: the Emergence of Penal Policy in Victorian and Edwardian England (Clarendon: Oxford, 1990), 633–48; May, Tim, Probation: Politics, Policy and Practice (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991); Page, Martin, Crimefighters of London: A History of the Origins and Development of the London Probation Service 1876–1965 (London: London Action Trust, 1992); and Briggs, John, Harrison, Christopher, McInnes, Angus, and Vincent, David, Crime and Punishment in England: An Introductory History (London: Routledge, 1996). Some records on the early years of the CETS are also available at Lambeth Palace. Although all of these works are useful in understanding the broader structure and intention of the probation system, with the exception of the first article in the McWilliams quartet, they shed little light on the cultural, social, and experiential dimensions of it.
6. From an analytical standpoint, the most significant assays of the early probation system are the works of McWilliams, Radzinowicz and Hood, Garland and May, op. cit.
7. William Forsythe has argued for the persistence classical liberalism in penal reform well into the interwar years. Forsythe, William James, Penal Discipline, Reformatory Projects and the English Prison Commission 1895–1939 (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1991). The continued relevance of classical criminological thinking in the move toward reform and rehabilitation has been similarly emphasized in Hudson, Barbara, Justice Through Punishment?: Critique of the Justice Model of Criminal Conventions (Basingstoke and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1987), 3; and Garland, Punishment and Welfare, 127.
8. The seminal text in the latter is Pearson, Geoffrey, Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears (London: Palgrave–Macmillan, 1983). Pearson's work jibed with the growing sociological interest in deviancy, violence, and youth culture in contemporary urban society. It also tied this scholarship with the historical study of “moral panics” introduced by Cohen, Stanley in Folk Devils and Moral Panics (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1972) and popularized by Hall, Stuart and his collaborators (Crichter, Charles, Jefferson, Tony, Clarke, John, and Roberts, Brian) in the groundbreaking anthology that emerged from the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (London: Macmillan, 1978).
9. There is an extensive literature on female criminality, and on women as victims of crime and as targets of the criminal justice system from the early modern period to the early twentieth century, but comparatively little has been written on how gender as a category or women's crime as a concern influenced the discussion and daily implementation of penal reform in this period. Littlewood, Barbara and Mahood, Linda, “Prostitutes, Magdalenes and Wayward Girls: Dangerous Sexualities of Working-Class Women in Victorian Scotland,” Gender & History 3 (1991): 160–75; D'Cruze, Shani, Crimes of Outrage: Sex, Violence and Victorian Working Women (Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1998); Davies, Andrew, “‘These Viragoes Are No Less Cruel Than the Lads’: Young Women, Gangs and Violence in Late Victorian Manchester and Salford,” British Journal of Criminology 39 (1999): 72–89; Jones, Karen, Gender and Petty Crime in Late Medieval England: The Local Courts in Kent, 1460–1560 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006); Durston, Gregory, Victims and Viragos: Metropolitan Women, Crime and the Eighteenth-Century Justice System (Suffolk: Arima, 2007); Palk, Deirdre, Gender, Crime and Judicial Discretion, 1780–1830 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006); and Symonds, Deborah A., Notorious Murders, Black Lanterns, and Moveable Goods: the Transformation of Edinburgh's Underworld in the Early Nineteenth Century (Akron, OH: University of Akron, 2006). One significant exception to this pattern is Wiener's, MartinMen of Blood: Violence, Manliness, and Criminal Justice in Victorian England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), but the focus there is on murder and serious violence against women as adjudicated in the higher courts, rather than on the treatment of female offenders or daily practice in the lower courts.
10. Garland, Punishment and Welfare, 175–85; May, Probation, 5–7; and Godfrey and Lawrence, Crime and Justice, 85–86.
11. “Philanthropy was a medium between Christian conscience and business and a young probation service, the buffer between laissez-faire individualism and state intervention in the penal sphere. The site for the expression of such beliefs became a legally responsible subject who, on occasion, lapses into irresponsibility which requires treatment. The individual becomes the object and the probation officer the means of intervention.” May, Probation, 7. The missionaries do represent an interesting example of the continued presence and influence of church on state, but to ask whether this is indicative of the persistence of Anglican religiosity in the court system or rather an example of the Anglican Church's adoption of a rationalized approach to social issues is to somewhat miss the point. In such philanthropy, the Anglican Church was following the example set by the Nonconformist churches in ministering to the more humble elements of English society. See Behlmer, George, Friends of the Family: The English Home and Its Guardians, 1850–1940 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998) and Lewis, Donald, Lighten their Darkness: The Evangelical Mission to Working-Class London, 1828–1860 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).
12. Troup wrote the introduction to the Judicial Statistics for England and Wales 1893 (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1895). His arguments about the conclusions that could be drawn from the trajectory of recorded crime since the passage of the Criminal Justice Act 1879 were important in subsequent reforms of summary justice, probation, and imprisonment. Radzinowicz and Hood, English Criminal Law, v. 5: Penal Policy, 106.
13. The eugenics movement was a key component of this. Godfrey and Lawrence, Crime and Justice, 85. For the connections between imperialism and the missionary movement, see Porter, Andrew, ed., The Imperial Horizons of British Protestant Missions, 1880–1914 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman's, 2003); and Thorne, Susan, Congregational Missions and the Making of an Imperial Culture in Nineteenth-Century England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).
14. CETS Annual Report 1903, 20.
15. Davis, Jennifer, “A Poor Man's System of Justice: The London Police Courts in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century,” The Historical Journal 27 (1984): 309.
16. The courts trace their cultural and functional origins to the work of John and Henry Fielding at the Bow Street Police Office in the mid-eighteenth century. The system of paid stipendiary magistrates was officially inaugurated with the Middlesex Justices Act 1792, but the formal parameters of their powers, and particularly their segregation from policing, was not fully established until John Peel's reforms of metropolitan policing and the judiciary in the 1820s and the 1830s.
17. Memorandum in Reference to the Training, Appointment, and Payment of Probation Officers from the Rev. Harry Pearson and Mr. Evan Griffiths, secretaries of the Police Court Mission (C.E.T.S) north and south of the Thames (1921), 1 (hereafter 1921 Memorandum). Unpublished biographic materials on Frederic Rainer from the Rainer Archive, 2 (Nottingham Galleries of Justice [hereafter GOJ]).
18. Holmes is universally acknowledged in the histories of probation as a seminal figure. In 1964, he was also the subject of a national radio broadcast that featured him in an imagined conversation with Majory Todd, a probation officer from the postwar period. Todd cited Holmes's memoirs as her inspiration to take up her profession (“Majory Todd and Thomas Holmes,” first aired January 14, 1964) (The National Archivies [hereafter TNA]).
19. C. M. Chapman, “Holmes, Thomas (1846–1918),” rev. George K. Behlmer, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33956 (March 3, 2014).
20. Holmes, Thomas, Pictures and Problems from London Police Courts, etc. (London: E. Arnold, 1900).
21. Ibid., 21.
22. Ibid., 173–74.
23. Founded in 1855, and named after John Howard (1726–1790), England's original prison reformer, the Howard Association, now the Howard League for Penal Reform, remains the oldest surviving organization of its kind in the world.
24. McWilliams, William, “The Mission to the English Police Courts,” The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 22 (1983): 134.
25. Unpublished biographical materials on Frederic Rainer from the Rainer Archive, 2.
26. Specifically, Gilbert and Rivington. Transcript of Talk at PMR School Dinner, November 6, 1987, 4 (Rainer Archive).
27. According to the story in the Windsor Express, Rainer's mother, Sarah, and another woman had gotten into a violent altercation in the marketplace, an altercation that had escalated into violence. Rainer's mother confessed her guilt, and was duly fined 10 s. 6 d., including costs. Windsor and Eton Express, Berks, Bucks and Middlesex Journal and West Surrey Gazette, April 26, 1862, excerpted in ibid.
28. Jarvis, F.V., Advise, Assist, and Befriend: A History of the Probation and After-Care Service (London: National Association of Probation Officers, 1972), 2.
29. Porter, J. Hasloch, Inasmuch: The Story of the Police Court Mission, 1876–1926 (London: Williams & Norgate, 1927), 7.
30. Home Office, Report of the Departmental Committee on the Social Services in Courts of Summary Jurisdiction (Cmnd. 5122, 1936) (hereafter Social Services, 1936), 37.
31. Reginald Lucas, ‘Vincent, Sir (Charles Edward) Howard (1849–1908)’, rev. Clive Emsley, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2010 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36660 (April 1,2014); and Radzinowicz and Hood, Penal Policy, 636.
32. Radzinowicz and Hood, Penal Policy, 636; May, Probation, 5. John Augustus, a Boston cobbler, is thought to have been the world's first probation officer (ibid.).
33. Radzinowicz and Hood, Penal Policy, 641.
34. Behlmer, Friends of the Family, 33–35.
35. Prior to the Education Act 1870, for example, the Church of England had been responsible for the majority of elementary education for working-class children, which had been conducted largely through Sunday schools.
36. These countervailing trends were apparent across late-Victorian and early-Edwardian penal reform, hence Tim May's description of the period as “a fusion between the charitable and legal spheres.” May, Probation, 7.
37. “Police-Court Work,” Church of England Temperance Chronicle (hereafter CET Chronicle), September 1, 1877, 147 (Lambeth Palace Archives).
42. CET Chronicle, February 2, 1878, 70.
43. “The facts just mentioned,” he wrote, “prove that short [prison] sentences are wholly inoperative to correct the moral tastes and physical inclination of the habitual drunkard.” Ibid.
44. CETS Annual Report 1881, 19 (Lambeth Palace Archives).
45. So essential were such home visits to their work that Nelson fully expected that the reduction of his assigned territory from three courts (Lambeth, Southwark, and Marylebone) to one (Marylebone) in December 1880 would alone be enough to substantially increase his success rate in holding pledgers to their word. Ibid.
48. Nelson reported that, of the many thousands who were brought up before the Lambeth, Southwark, and Marylebone magistrates on charges of or related to drunkenness, only 333 men and women took the pledge between March 31, 1880 and April 9, 1881. Ibid., 20.
49. Ibid., 21. The Police Court Mission had identified cabmen as a group worthy of special attention, in part because it was common practice for their customers to tip them in the form of a drink rather than coin. But Batchelor also reported that he had made 469 home visits, at least some of which must have been in relation to cases he encountered at the courts.
50. Ibid., 20.
51. CET Chronicle, January 26, 1878, 61.
52. CET Chronicle, June 1, 1878, 348.
53. CETS Annual Report 1881, 22.
56. In his annual report for the work done in 1883–1884, George Nelson recorded interviewing 6,312 prisoners, while visiting only 1,001 cab stands and shelters. He also recorded 206 visits to police stations, up from 54 in 1880–1881. CETS Annual Report 1881, 20; and CETS Annual Report 1884, 21.
57. CETS Annual Report 1884, 21.
58. Ibid., 22.
59. Batchelor's 1884 statistics are not available, but Nelson reported sending only twenty-seven girls to homes and institutions that year and restoring forty-one girls to their parents. Ibid., 21. Soon after, however, magistrates began emphasizing the significance of this program. As Sir James Taylor Ingham, Chief Magistrate of the London Police Courts, would write to the LPCM 5 years later, “in the rescue of young girls, who have come to London from the country, he [Batchelor] has, I believe, been most successful.” CETS Annual Report 1889, 28.
60. CET Chronicle, June 1, 1878, 348.
61. CET Chronicle, August 13, 1882, 531.
62. For a more detailed description of Police Court architecture and courtroom spaces, see Graham, Clare, Ordering Law : The Architectural and Social History of the English Law Court to 1914 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), 178–85.
63. CET Chronicle, August 13, 1882, 531.
64. In 1880, there were 3,140 charges brought against those who assaulted, resisted, or otherwise obstructed constables in London (Judicial Statistics for England and Wales 1880, 88). In 1885, there were 3,446 (Judicial Statistics for England and Wales 1885, 86).
66. Lay representatives of the church “visiting” the sick or needy was a practice that had originated with the Methodists in the late eighteenth century. The Anglican Church quickly followed suit, and many cities and large towns had urban missions by the mid-nineteenth century. The London City Mission (f. 1835) was one of the largest and most active. Behlmer, Friends of the Family, 33–34.
67. CETS Annual Report 1884, 22.
68. CETS Annual Report 1885, 37.
71. CETS Annual Report 1886, 41.
72. CETS Annual Report 1887, 71.
73. Ibid., 70.
74. CETS Annual Report 1889, 33. The author was most likely Rev. J. Dennis Hird, the London Diocesan secretary, although this claim may have been penned by one of the missionaries themselves.
76. Radzinowicz and Hood, Penal Policy, 634–35; and Jarvis, Advise, Assist, 10.
77. Jarvis, Advise, Assist, 15.
78. Radzinowicz and Hood, Penal Policy, 638.
80. By 1889, there were eleven missionaries operating out of the London courts and by 1892 there were fifty-one missionaries operating countrywide. The largest concentration of them after London was to be found in Liverpool. CETS Annual Report 1889, 28; and CETS Annual Report 1892, 24.
81. On the contrast between the two, see Julienne Hanson, “The Architecture of Justice: Iconography and Space Configuration in the English Law Court Building,” Architectural Research Quarterly 1 (1996): 55–56.
82. Moore, H.C., “Temperance ‘Spade Work’: in the South London Police Courts,” The Churchman 16 (1902): 386.
84. Wiener, Reconstructing the Criminal, 61.
85. CET Chronicle, August 13, 1881.
87. CETS Annual Report 1890, 37. The record did not specify which LPCM missionary was the protagonist, in this case. This elision only furthered the parable flavor of the anecdote.
92. See pp. 27–28.
93. Davis, “Poor Man's System,” 315.
94. Plowden, Alfred Chicele, Grain or Chaff: The Autobiography of a Police Court Magistrate (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1903), 321.
95. In 1832, police had taken into custody 32,636 people on charges of drunkenness. By 1850, this was down to a total of just under 24,000, divided between 12,477 for drunkenness and 11,420 for drunk and disorderly behavior (Inwood, Stephen, “Policing London's Morals: The Metropolitan Police and Popular Culture, 1829–1850,” London Journal 15 (1990), 136). See also Wiener, Recostructing the Criminal, 294–300.
96. Judicial Statistics for England and Wales 1885, 28.
97. Jennings, Paul, “Policing Drunkenness in England and Wales from the Late Eighteenth Century to the First World War,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 26 (2012): 72–73.
99. Ibid., 74.
100. Handler, Phil, “Intoxication and Criminal Responsibility in England, 1819–1920,” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 33 (2013): 255.
101. 2 Ed. 7, c. 28. Behlmer, Friends of the Family, 194. This qualification was open to definition, and the husband's prior conviction of the offense could stand as very damning evidence against him. The granting of financial maintenance, at least when the wife was the complainant, was common practice in such cases.
102. In 1860, the metropolitan courts had tried 80,477 offenses summarily (Judicial Statistics for England and Wales 1860, 28). By 1890, that number had risen to 111,810, with almost no increase in judicial personnel (Judicial Statistics for England and Wales 1890, 28).
103. A seminal statute in this trend was the Habitual Drunkards Act 1879. The prosecutions for drunkenness declined steadily beginning in the mid 1870s and continued to do so in succeeding decades. Wiener, Reconstructing the Criminal, 294–300.
104. CETS Annual Report 1890, 33.
105. Ibid., 34.
106. In 1889–90, the courts and magistrates collectively contributed roughly ₤90 to the LPCM. CETS Annual Reports 1890 and 1891.
107. CETS Annual Report 1884, 21.
108. CETS Annual Report 1892, 83.
109. Behlmer, Friends of the Family, 33–36; and Ellen Ross, Love and Toil : Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870–1918 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 15–16.
110. Porter, J. Hasloch, Inasmuch: the Story of the Police Court Mission, 1876–1926 (London: Williams & Norgate, 1927), 10.
111. CETS Annual Report 1895, 26.
112. CETS Annual Report 1899, 40.
113. Ibid., chart insert.
114. Ibid., 40.
115. It is also worth pointing out that male missionaries were allowed access to the female prisoners, but there is no indication that the reverse was true.
116. Judicial Statistics for England and Wales 1900, 72.
117. One such being the truancy monitoring conducted by the London School Board.
118. Holmes, Pictures and Problems, 41.
119. Ada Summers, the Mayor of Staleybridge, was sworn in on December 19, 1919. Her appointment was made possible by the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919.
120. Porter, Inasmuch, 9.
121. CETS Annual Report 1902, 20.
122. Ibid., 40.
123. CETS Annual Report 1901, 20.
124. CETS Annual Report 1902, 21.
125. CETS Annual Report 1904, 21.
126. Whitehead and Stratham, History of Probation, 15.
127. The secretary of the London Police Court Mission, at one point, emphasized the contributions of the pioneers of penal reform, Elizabeth Fry and John Howard, for setting the precedent for the LPCM, offering “all honour to the Howards, Frys, and others who broke up the fallow ground, thus preparing for the advent of a complete organization, would that Elizabeth Fry and John Howard could witness the triumph of their theories.” Ibid.
128. Porter, Inasmuch, 9.
129. Holmes, Pictures and Problems, 50.
130. Ibid., 50–51.
131. In addition to contributions made directly to the Mission, the “poor box” maintained in each police court, filled with contributions by private and collective donors, came increasingly under the purview of the missionaries. Porter, Inasmuch, 83.
132. CETS Annual Report 1906. “Materially helped” probably includes the paying of court-levied fines by missionaries in cases in which they deemed it appropriate.
133. CETS Annual Report 1905, 25.
134. Jones, Gareth Stedman, The Languages of Class: Studies in English Working Class History 1832–1982 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).
135. Whitehead and Statham, History of Probation, 14–15.
136. CETS Annual Report 1910, 27.
137. CETS Annual Report 1899, 32.
138. Ibid., chart insert.
139. CETS Annual Report 1911, 22. That year, the LPCM reported providing “clothing, blankets, food, rent, stock and tools, &c.” for 5,002 persons and families.
140. Holmes, Pictures and Problems, 23.
141. CETS Annual Report 1904, 25.
142. Auerbach, Sascha, Race, Law, and ‘the Chinese Puzzle’ in Imperial Britain (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 81.
143. CETS Annual Report 1931, 22.
146. CETS Annual Report 1932, 27.
147. CETS Annual Report 1932, 28.
149. Ibid., 29.
150. This duplicated the pattern found in magistrates’ discourse on topic of interracial relationships. Auerbach, Chinese Puzzle, 125–32.
151. The treatment of Chinese police court defendants during the wartime period certainly suggests that this was the case. Ibid., 97–102.
152. In 1899, the London missionaries dealt with sixty-one boys in this way. CETS Annual Report 1899, chart insert.
153. CETS Annual Report 1906, 23.
154. CETS Annual Report 1915, 21.
155. Saving the Lads (brochure for the Padcroft Boys’ Home), c. 1918 (Rainer Archive).
156. The Victoria Cross and Distinguished Conduct Medal, respectively.
157. CETS Annual Report 1915, 20.
158. CETS Annual Report 1916, 15.
160. “A Mission of Mercy,” CETS Annual Report 1904, 20. To the great disappointment of the LPCM, the authors of the 1936 report on social services in the court recommended that the entire system, including recruitment and training, be transferred to Home Office control (Report of the Departmental Committee on Social Services in Courts of Summary Jurisdiction, PP 1936, cmd. 5122). The LPCM, whose secretary was Edwin Troup, the former Undersecretary of State for the Home Office, penned a vociferous memorial to the Home Office in response, but the majority of the report's recommendations were implemented in subsequent years (CETS Annual Report 1936, 4–8).
He thanks Margot Finn, Tom Green, and Michael Lobban for their comments on earlier versions of this work. During its development, the members of the 2010 Law and Humanities Interdisciplinary Junior Scholar Workshop at Columbia University were most gracious in their hospitality and most helpful in their advice. Gratitude is also due to the editor and anonymous reviewers of the Law and History Review, whose guidance was invaluable. The research and writing of this piece were made possible by generous support from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, King's College London, and the Fulbright Commission, and by the kind assistance of Bev Baker and the other staff at the Nottingham Galleries of Justice and the Lambeth Palace Library.
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