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David J. Cox, Steve Farrall and Barry Godfrey, 'Persistent Offenders in the North West of England, 1880-1940: Some Critical Research Questions', 69-89

Article

Published onApr 01, 2007
David J. Cox, Steve Farrall and Barry Godfrey, 'Persistent Offenders in the North West of England, 1880-1940: Some Critical Research Questions', 69-89

Abstract
This article examines the concept of the persistent offender as a group within society, and the presumed impact of that discrete group upon society via a case study of offending in Crewe between 1880 and 1940. The findings of persistent offending in Crewe challenge the assumptions and prejudices of the period, about the links between unemployment and crime and the extent to which crime was an enduring ‘career’. There were no ‘hardened’ persistent offenders in the sample of the type envisaged by contemporary comment, though the role of drink in offending was sustained; and there was no clear ‘type’ of offender either. Examination of the life histories of a selection of offenders is shown to raise a number of interdisciplinary questions, challenging the assumptions of criminologists and legal scholars in relation to the role of legislation in the management of criminality, including the concept (of interest also to historians) that reformation of the criminal was more achievable in the past than it is in the overregulated present.

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