Nature of crimes

Nature of crimes

Medieval England (c500-c1500)

  • Most Common Crimes: Included theft, violent offences, and crimes against the church.
  • Punishments: Tended to be harsh and public, including humiliating punishments like ‘the stocks’.
  • Hersey: Considered a serious crime, due to the power and influence of the church.
  • Social Status and Crime: The types of crimes committed often depended on social status. Landless peasants, for instance, often resorted to theft.
  • Witchcraft: Started to be considered a crime by the end of this period.

Early Modern England (c1500-c1700)

  • Most Common Crimes: Remained largely the same - theft, violent offences and crimes against the church.
  • Punishment: Stayed harsh with the addition of more serious ones like burning at the stake and hanging.
  • Witchcraft: Increasingly seen as a serious crime, leading to hundreds of prosecutions.
  • Religion and Crime: With the Reformation, religious crimes shifted somewhat, with Catholics often being persecuted under Protestant rule.
  • Smuggling and Highway Robbery: These crimes started to increase, often due to economic hardship and taxes on goods.

18th and 19th Century England

  • Most Common Crimes: Theft remained a common crime, but new types of crime appeared, like forgery.
  • Punishment: Transportation to the colonies began to be used as a punishment.
  • Industrial Revolution: The rise of industry led to new crimes such as factory theft and public disorder offences.
  • Poverty and Crime: Increasing urban poverty led to an increase in crimes like pickpocketing and burglary.
  • Prison Reforms: The 19th century saw the birth of the modern penal system with the introduction of imprisonment as a standard punishment.

20th Century and Beyond

  • Most Common Crimes: Now include a much wider variety, from violent crimes to white-collar crimes like fraud.
  • Punishment: Capital punishment was abolished in 1965, leaving imprisonment as the harshest penalty.
  • War and Crime: During times of war, there are often changes in the types of crimes committed, such as black market activities during rationing.
  • Technology and Crime: The rise of new technology has brought new types of crime such as cybercrime.
  • Social Change and Crime: Changes in society, such as shifts in drug usage, has also affected the types of crimes committed.