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NCJ Number: 222058 Find in a Library
Title: Changing Prosecution Practices and Their Impact on Crime Figures, 1857-1940
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:48  Issue:2  Dated:March 2008  Pages:171-189
Author(s): Barry Godfrey
Date Published: March 2008
Page Count: 19
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This paper examines the changes in prosecution practices and policies that shaped crime trends between the mid-19th and the mid-20th centuries.
Abstract: Between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries, two processes took place: the disappearance of the victim as an active participant in the prosecution process and the increasing dominance of both public and privatized agencies over the prosecution process. Until the end of the 19th century, victims were active participants in the prosecution process. If it were not for the persistence of complainants in securing the offender and pressing their cases in court, rates of recorded crime would be much lower. By 1880, however, the police had in many cases assumed the role of prosecutor. This paper begins by questioning how this change affected recorded rates of violent crime. The paper than continues with exploring the rise of private prosecutors of regulatory style offenses, constituting over half the business of local magistrates courts from 1880 to 1940. The paper concludes that from 1880, crime rates were increasingly subject to the policies and practices of the police and other appointed officials, and that the role of the victim as active prosecutor had become almost redundant by the First World War. The numbers of prosecutions involving offenses against individuals were now swamped by prosecutions by regulators and traffic policemen for the common good, or on behalf of a ‘notional community’ of the law-biding. Tables, figures, references
Main Term(s): Prosecution
Index Term(s): Crime patterns; History of criminal justice; Policy analysis; Prosecution by police
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