Assess the significance of individual cases in changing attitudes towards crime and punishment in the years 1830-1965

1721 Words Mar 24th, 2014 7 Pages
Since the 19th century, law enforcement and punishment has developed rapidly into the justice system we rely on today. Obscure laws that had become irrelevant in an industrial and post-industrial era were fast being replaced, and despite its lack of existence at the beginning of the 1800’s, policing standards are, today, high. The necessity for this drastic change in approach to crime has stemmed from the needs of industrial Britain, and the increased awareness of the public, and government, and their perception of crime and punishment. Rather than individual cases having a direct impact on these changes, in general they provide an insight as to the reactions of the public at the time, and along with the myriad of other cases, allow us …show more content…
The Tolpuddle Martyrs are a significant case in showing the increased involvement of the public in speaking against the justice system. In 1834, members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers were transported under an outdated law that prohibited the taking of oaths, when they protested for a better wage. Perhaps what brought the most sympathy for the case was the fact that their protest was peaceful, despite the history of violent protest among workers with riots and groups such as the Luddites. The authorities were equally unsympathetic to this case as they were to the other, more violent movements. Even after public interest attracted an 800,000 signature petition, protesters were oppressed at a demonstration in Oldham. The public was aware of the struggles of the poor worker, but the government still dismissed it; refusing to recognise the desperate circumstance of workers and citing greed as the motive of the Martyrs. Clearly the case had little impact on government opinions, with the treatment of the Chartists and the Rebecca Rioters later in the same decade being the same. But an important contribution of the Tolpuddle Martyrs case was the impact it had on public opinion, and the increased popularity of worker’s unions. This case might suggest that reform is unrelated to the attitudes of society at
Open Document