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Describe Law and order in London in the late 19th Century.

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Introduction

Q1: Describe Law and order in London in the late 19th Century. The East End of London was well known for its high crime levels. There was a very dense population which resulted in high levels of poverty, unemployment and of course crime. People in the East End would often turn to crimes such as thieving, prostitution and drunkenness. People were frequently driven to perpetrate criminal acts by desperation, despondency and the idea that perhaps it was an easier way to live. Immoral crimes such as rape, sexual abuse towards children and women, abortion and incest were not atypical in the East End of London. Amazingly, incest was not illegal until 1908 and until the 1880's a father could legally have sex with his thirteen year old daughter. Domestic violence was not a rarity either. Husbands often violently or sexually abused their wives. Adults were often cruel to children also, subjecting them to beating and starvation. There were substantial inconsistencies in crime and punishment, not just in the East End, but also all over London. There were three focal things which influenced the way in which a criminal would be punished - age, gender and wealth. The most relevant to the East End was age and gender as there were no middle class people living in the East End. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that judges and juries were both entirely male in this period of time also played a major role in the inconsistent convictions. Prostitution was a poor woman's only alternative to domestic service or the workhouse and many women chose this path. Living in the East End was dangerous anyway and becoming a prostitute further exposed a woman to the immoral crimes consistent in the area, such as rape murder and violence. Having sex with strangers also exposed the women of the East End to diseases and pregnancies which could further lead to illegal and potentially dangerous backstreet abortions, and even death. Unwanted pregnancies caused women to drink alcohol excessively in an attempt to terminate the unborn child by intoxication. This could have further led to petty crimes they perhaps wouldn't have committed if they were sober. Organising and committing crime was easy in the area as the East End had extensive dimly lit or completely dark backstreets and alleyways. This also meant that gangs and mob could easily dodge the Police. The whole of the East End was looked down upon by the posh Victorians resident in the West End of London because the majority were strict Orthodox Christians, although, Victorians were notoriously uptight anyway. ...read more.

Conclusion

This meant that there was little local control over the Police which led to the Police committing crimes themselves, or using their position of power to commit illegal acts on people. There were many instances when Police officers raped women. The Police were more concerned with crime in the West End rather than in the East End. This led to East - Enders to believe that the Police were more concerned with protecting the rich and prestigious people of the West End rather than then poor people in the East End of London. The Police were not treating the people of London equally regardless of how rich or poor they were. Working class people felt that the Police were enforcing middle class standards of respectability. The East End needed Police attention more than the West End of London because there were higher levels of crime and potential crime. The Police seemed to be wining the war against crime in the rest of London. However, the East End of London was becoming uncontrollable. The Police were overwhelmed by the amount of crime in the East End. The Police was still a relatively new idea and some people still resented the invasion of their privacy. They were not used to having uniformed officers telling them what to do. The relationship between the Police and the general public was not a good one, not many people trusted the Police. ...read more.

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