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THE POLICE REPORT,
OF THE YEAR OF OUR LORD,
WITH A PLAN
EFFECTUALLY SUPPRESSING THE TRADE OF THIEVING.
A FEW WORDS) INDUCING TOWARDS THE DISCOVERY OF PERPETUAL MOTION, PERHAPS THE ACTUAL
JUVENILE THIEVES ADULT THIEVES PROSTITUTES BROTHELS
Note-the figures within parenthesis refer to the pages of the Police Report.
London, 1822. UPWARDS of five years have elapsed since the promulgation of evidence taken before a Committee of the House of Commons, on the state of the Police of the Metropolis, and nothing has yet been completed to counteract the many evils prevailing throughout the whole town, from its centre to each extremity.
The newspapers daily give fresh accounts of crimes and criminals; imprisonment, transportation, and death dance through their columns with all the gaiety of amusing intelligence, to the detestable disgrace of those whose duty binds them to produce a remedy, those who live on the industry of laborious members of society, favored with the means of life, without the pains of procuring
To frame laws to stem the torrent of an impending danger, to assure the free enjoyment of every social blessing, and charitably to aid the helpless, are the bounden duties of such favored beings; they are the price of their luxuries, the best reason for their existence. Having said this little to stimulate those who need the goad, I shall proceed to examine the evidence: and, First, With regard to Juvenile Depredators, children born and bred in iniquity, who never had a sense of virtue, or of shame ; taught to thieve, almost as soon as they can crawl, and beaten only when they least deserve the punishment; (see Clement's official edition of the Police Report, 220 and 342) where there is stated, "that children are sent out begging, and if they do not bring home money, they (their parents) flog them; and that some of the young thieves are quite children, and can scarcely crawl.” These are statements made on oath by credible witnesses, persons who frequently have had opportunities which enable them to vouch the truth of their assertions; it is also severally stated in 43, 84, 153, 196, and 256) 6 that they have increased to an alarming number," &c. &c. &c. The cause of the increase of juvenile delinquency (as stated in the Report, 49 and 61) is attributed to the leaving destitute orphans, infants of both sexes, the progeny of indigent and profligate parents;" and, to " a laxity of morals among those, whose duty it is to instruct and look after them.” Another cause assigned is, the syst tematical mode in which experienced thieves employ children to commit theft; and they go to work so cleverly, that they generally evade detection ; and, when they are caught, the child must be prosecuted to conviction, before the employer becomes amenable to the laws (84); and in (85) it is stated, “that prisons increase the depravity of children, rather than better their habits, which often induces magistrates to hint to the complainants to relinquish prosecution.” (197) It is stated, that there are brothels devoted solely to the use of children, where grown up people cannot gain admittance. (217) It is stated, that there are bawds who make it their business to go about the town in search of pretty girls, of whom they take possession, and they actually seduce the boys before they think of the perpetration of crime. At (345) four boys had been in custody at Newgate, together, upwards of 70 times: two of them, as the head of a gang of boys, had travelled to Portsmouth to attend the fair. In (346) it is stated, that they all keep their girls, whom they term flash girls--a. boy, only nine years old, had his flash girl. In (197) there is a proposal for sending 500 of these little depredators to America, the Cape of Good Hope, or the West Indies : a proposal to banish little children for crimes which, in many instances, they have been compelled to commit. Banish their fathers, their mothers, their instigators, who are more guilty than the actual perpetrators. Instigators are guilty of all the crimes committed by persons under their influence, whereas the perpetrator is guilty of such crimes only as he actually commits : upon this principle, all receivers of stolen goods are instigators, and should be visited with the utmost rigor of the law. If these destitute children were possessed of property they would immediately be. come wards in Chancery, their bodies taken care of, their minds enlightened, under the direction of masters specially appointed ; they would be subject to the usual restraints of a public school, discretionarily flogged when deserving punishment, to rear them in VOL. XXI.
the path of virtue; but because they are poor, forlorn,“ destitute,” and on that account alone, more fitly the objects to be protected by an equitable judge, they are left to rot in the dens of thieves, their hearts corrupted, their souls endangered, their sorry being breathing pestilence in society.
Oh, ye philanthropic! ye Bible associators ! ye vice destroyers ! if the seeds of pity can find nourishment in your breasts, let them spring forth to rescue from destruction, children that have done no wrong because they knew not rectitude; children to be punished for the crimes of others, acting as agents through fear of punish. ment more dreadful, and more certain, than that by law affixed to the crime imputed; when even, if they knew the law, obedience would be folly. An idiot has no will, and his instigator commits the crime of which he was the instrument. A wife, acting with her husband, in some cases, is considered as having no will; yet the child of them both, (acting under their influence) is said to use his free will and discretion, though every natural feeling belies the law. (63) It is stated, as calculated in the Report of the Committee of Mendicity, there are “ 6000 children mendicants in the metropolis." As begging and thieving are nearly synonymous, we may fairly imagine one-third of that amount to be thieves; and to know that 2000 children, in London, are daily on the watch to perpetrate crime, must stamp some portion of infamy.even on those who suffer by their depredations.
This class of offenders is the main-spring of the former, and should be visited with the strictest opposition, watched day and night, and molested in every haunt, until driven of necessity to pursue the honest course of life, but so long as there exists an interest in their guilt, independent of their own, and that interest vested almost wholly in persons whose duty it is to suppress such guilt ; it is absurd to suppose a total suppression on their part, having a vital interest in upholding a system of iniquity, depravity, debauchery, vice. (208) « For as I observed to Lord 'Loughborough, on a question by Sir William Garrow-Ah! Townsend, you have been very lucky, who gave you information ? and I laughed at the question—it would not do for us to answer those questions.” Certainly not; (264) the informer may sometimes be a poor half-starved thief, held in terror, whose neck is in jeopardy, and, on that account, as dangerous as the active thief, and perhaps more dangerous in some cases. The policy of encouraging a distinct class of informers, is rotten at the core, it is foreign to the spirit of England;
it tends to make every man look at his neighbour with suspicion; it abrogates from the heart that warmth of friendship, which is congenial to the well-being of every manly nation, and substitutes a civil formality, which is both cold and selfish. Without doubt there are many cases wherein the informer is so interested, that he would rather nurse the criminal than check the crime ; and though his employer will not degrade himself by malpractices, yet he knows nothing of the matter, but, through the medium of this informer, which informer may employ a being still more grovelling than himself, who perhaps would not hesitate to instigate his victim; and if this victim is taken, tried, condemned and executed, the country gains nothing by his death ; but it sustains a loss greater than the public example will commensurate. When a thief is sent out of the country or out of the world, there is always another ready to succeed him in his particular branch of the trade, and fresh recruits are brought in to fill up the rear. (334.) « The town is divided into walks amongst the pickpockets;" it is also stated (264) « that the thieves, of all the large towns, have a regular correspondence. with each other, which facts clearly prove, that they carry on their trade with as much regularity as the members of a creditable business. · In (51) it is stated, “ that there exist 8000 places in the metropolis, notoriously open for the reception of stolen goods. Now supposing, on an average, that each place makes 1007. in the year by nefarious traffic, the sum total is 800,0001. As there is no statement, in the Police Report, of the number of brothels, I place them also at 8000, that, at an average, they make 2001. in the year, their income will be 1,600,0001., which, added to the 800,0001., makes a total of 2,400,0001.: the tithe of which sum of money is not to be despised in the eyes of those who have it in their power to foster such seminaries of vice.
In (71) there is evidence of the existence of «.flash houses," licensed public-houses, where notorious thieves assemble, with whom officers of the police mingle, not expressly for the purpose of suppressing crime, but to enable them to catch criminals. If these places are not traps for the unwary, they are most certainly dens of iniquity which should not exist ; they must tend to the increase of criminals, as surely as brothels tend to the increase of prostitutes.
(Police Report, page 33.) « Has any plan ever struck you as feasible, by which that dis.