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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Laite, Julia 2014. Justifiable Sensationalism. Media History, Vol. 20, Issue. 2, p. 126.

    Wood, John Carter 2014. The Constables and the ‘Garage Girl’. Media History, Vol. 20, Issue. 4, p. 384.


Lady Astor and the Ladies of the Night: The Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Politics of the Street Offences Committee, 1927–28


Section 54 (11) of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 criminalized the act of a common prostitute causing annoyance by soliciting in public.2 For the police to implement this legislation was no simple matter, as no definition of “prostitute,” or indeed “annoyance,” was scribed in statute law. Although common law aided the interpretation of this offense—the case of Rex v. de Munck (1918): “We are of the opinion that prostitution is proved if it is shown that a woman offers her body commonly for lewdness of payment in return”3—in practice, identifying a “common prostitute” and defining “annoyance” was left to the discretion of the individual police officer. Although specific squads were deployed to target streetwalkers in West End police divisions, where the presence of prostitutes was more likely to cause public offense, a “blind eye” was often turned to women soliciting in the less salubrious streets of the metropolis. Local knowledge gained on the beat and the informal advice of colleagues shaped an unofficial police policy of containment and toleration.4

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Julia A. Laite , “The Association for Moral and Social Hygiene: Abolitionism and Prostitution Law in Britain (1915–1959),” Women's History Review 17 (2008): 207–3l

Julia Laite , “Taking Nellie Johnson's Fingerprints: Prostitutes and Legal Identity in Early Twentieth-Century London,” History Workshop Journal 65 (2008): 96116

Bridget Pym , “The Making of a Successful Pressure Group,” British Journal of Sociology 24 (1973): 448–61

Max Beloff , “The Whitehall Factor: The Role of the Higher Civil Service, 1919–39,” in The Politics of Reappraisal, 1918–39, ed. Gillian Peele and Chris Cook [London: Macmillan, 1975]

Anne Logan , ‘“A Suitable Person for Suitable Cases’: The Gendering of Juvenile Courts in England, c. 1910–39,” Twentieth Century British History 16 (2005): 129–45

Anne Logan , “In Search of Equal Citizenship: The Campaign for Women Magistrates in England and Wales, 1910–39,” Women's History Review 16 (2007): 502–18

Pamela Donavan and Paul Lawrence , “Road Traffic Offending and an Inner London Magistrates' Court (1913–1963),” Crime, Histoire & Société 12 (2008): 119–40

Louise A. Jackson , “‘Lady Cops’ and ‘Decoy Doras’: Gender, Surveillance and the Construction of Urban Knowledge, 1919–59,” London Journal 27 (2002): 6383

Stuart Ball , “Parliament and Politics in Britain, 1900–1951,” Parliamentary History 10 (1991): 243–76

David Sugarman , “Writing ‘Law and Society’ Histories,” Modern Law Review 55 (1992): 292308

Hilda Kean , “Searching for the Past in Present Defeat: The Construction of Historical and Political Identity in British Feminism in the 1920s and 1930s,” Women's History Review 3 (1994): 5780

Lucy Bland , “‘Purifying’ the Public World: Feminist Vigilantes in Victorian England,” Women's History Review 1 (1993): 397412

Goffrey K. Fry , Statesmen in Disguise: The Changing Role of the Administrative Class of the British Home Civil Service, 1853–1966 (London: Macmillan, 1969), 57

Keith Thomas , “The Double Standard,” Journal of the History of Ideas 20 (1959): 195216

Stefan Slater , “Prostitutes and Popular History: Notes on the Underworld,” Crime, Histoire & Société 13 (2009): 2548

Stefan Slater , “Pimps, Police and Filles de Joie: Foreign Prostitution in Interwar London,” London Journal 32 (2007): 5374

John Carter Wood , “‘The Third Degree’: Press Reporting, Crime Fiction and Police Powers in 1920s Britain,” Twentieth Century British History 21 (2010):464–85)

Howard Taylor , “Forging the Job: A Crisis of ‘Modernization’ or Redundancy for the Police in England and Wales, 1900–39,” British Journal of Criminology 39 (1999): 113–35

Robert M. Morris , “‘Lies, Damned Lies and Criminal Statistics’: Reinterpreting the Criminal Statistics in England and Wales,” Crime, Histoire & Société 5 (2001): 111–27

Andrew Thorpe , A History of the British Labour Party (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), 69

Johanna Alberti , “The Turn of the Tide: Sexuality and Politics, 1928–31,” Women's History Review 3 (1994): 169–90

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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