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SURREY TO WIT.-At the General Quarter Session of the Peace
of our Sovereign Lord the King, holden at Saint Mary, Newington, in and for the County of Surrey, on Tuesday, the 15th day of January, in the year 1828 :
IT IS RESOLVED, That this Court regards with great concern the alarming increase of crime within its jurisdiction, particularly the crimes of burglary, housebreaking, and street-robbery, which in many instances have been committed with confederated strength, and in a manner so open, violent, and atrocious, as to have placed the persons and property of the inhabitants of this county in a state of insecurity, demanding the immediate attention of the magistracy, and of all persons in authority,
It is ordered by this Court, that a committee be formed, consisting of the chairman of the session, the representatives in parliament for this county, and Sir Richard Frederick, Sir Thomas Turton, Barts., George Holme Sumner, James Trotter, Thomas Page, Samuel Thornton, Randle Jackson, Francis Wightwick, Henry Drummond, Benjamin Barnard, Robert Hudson, William Crawford, William Speer, John Spicer, Edgell Wyatt Edgell, John Ivatt Briscoe, Thomas Lett, Charles Hampden Turner, Launcelot Baugh Allen, Robert Joseph Chambers, Thomas Gaitskell, John Woolley, Robert Hedger, Maurice Swabey, Joseph Terry Hone, Esquires, and George Walton Ouston and John Courtney, clerks, to take into their consideration, from time to time, as occasion may require, the state of the police of the county, and such matters as they shall think connected therewith, and to report their opinion to the session.
It is further ordered, That it be an instruction to the said Committee to take into their early consideration the expediency of establishing a local preventive police, in such parishes of this county as may be willing to adopt that mode of protection.
It is resolved, That this Court will at all times be ready to attend to communications from government, and will, to the best of its power, contribute its aid to the protection of his Majesty's subjects, both as to their persons and property; and
It is ordered by this Court, That William Joseph Denison and Charles Nicholas Palmer, Esquires, the representatives in parliament for this county, be, and they are hereby requested to present a copy of the foregoing resolutions and orders to his Majesty's secretary of state for the home department, and to give their support to any bill which may be brought into parliament for the remedy of these evils.
Lastly, it is ordered, That the chairman of this session be, and he is hereby requested to send a copy of the foregoing resolutions and orders to the lord mayor of the city of London, and to the chairman of the quarter-sessions for the counties of Middlesex, Kent, Essex, and Sussex.
By the Court,
Your Committee, in considering the matter referred to them, namely, the alarming increase of crime within this county, propose to direct their attention to the following propositions ; namely
1. The fact of the alleged increase of crime, and the degree of its extent.
2. The causes of such increase.
3. The most likely means to prevent or mitigate this growing calamity.
Under the latter head, your Committee will consider a measure which, in their opinion, exceeds in importance all others connected with this subject, and respecting which they feel bound to declare their firm conviction, that without its adoption they utterly despair of any material qualification of the evil so generally deplored ; they mean, the permanent removal of the persons of the offenders from the United Kingdom.
With regard to the fact of an increase of crime, your Committee apprehend it to be too notorious to call on them to enter into much proof. Scarcely an individual of your Committee but has had cause, on account of himself or friends, to lament the want of that security for person and property, which is the legitimate end of all government, and to obtain which the subjects of this country contribute so large a proportion of their respective means. Your Committee will, however, refer to a few public statements, in order to afford some idea of the extent of such increase.
The convictions in England and Wales, according to a statement of Sir Eardley Wilmot, a magistrate of the county of Warwick, were as follows ; viz. In 1810.
11,095 making an increase in sixteen years of nearly 300 per cent.
According to an account lately published in the daily papers, the commitments to Newgate were, In 1824.
2951 1827 .
• 3020 showing an increase of nearly 50 per cent in four years !
It appears from the Report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, presented so recently as last June, that the commitments for trial in England and Wales, from 1806 to 1826, were, In 1806
16,147 being an increase in twenty years of above 300 per cent.
This cannot be accounted for by any proportionate increase of population, as is sometimes supposed, the same report giving the following account of the increase of population for twenty years ; viz. In 1801
. 10,150,615 1821 .
. 11,977,663 thus showing an increase in the population of about 35 per cent, in the same term of years that crime increased in the proportion of above 275 per cent!! This frightful disparity seems to be confirmed by the evidence taken before that Committee; one of whom, the Rev. Dr. Hunt, presents a calculation, founded on the return of commitments to the county jail of Bedford, showing that “the population of the county of Bedford had increased to the amount of 40 per cent, while, during the same period, crime had increased tenfold, or 900 per cent." Thus it will be seen, that whether convictions or commitments are considered, nearly the same afflicting ratio seems to prevail.
The return of the county of Surrey, it is true, exhibits an infinitely less proportion in the increase of commitments for crime, than any other document which has come before your Committee. From this account it appears that the number of such commitments were, In 1821.
2482 making only an increase of 169 in six years! Your Committee cannot, however, conceal the prevalence of an opinion, that, owing to certain circumstances, more impunity for “crime exists, and fewer apprehensions take place, in proportion to the number of offenders, in Southwark and its neighborhood, than in any
district of the metropolis. This, indeed, will become self-evident, when your Committee state, from the information of one of the magistrates of Union Hall, that “they have but twelve constables, six of whom are necessarily occupied in the usual business of the office, leaving but six disposable officers under their control for the prevention of felony and robbery, over a district of twentyseven miles in circumference, and containing a population of 300,000 persons !"
Your Committee need not observe, that six officers, however vigilant, must be wholly unequal to the care of such a district; but they doubt the possibility even of one office being able to discharge the various and complicated duties arising from so considerable a neighborhood, and so crowded a population. Whether this great district be committed to one or more offices, it seems to your Committee to be of great importance, that a uniformity of adjudication, and an intimate knowlege of each other's proceedings, in order to a conjunctive employment of their strength, should prevail throughout all the offices charged with the care of the metropolis and its environs. Be this as it may, the Surrey return presents a proportion of juvenile criminals which is perfectly appalling. It appears that, out of the aggregate of 16,427 commitments within the last seven years, 7292 were under twenty years of age ; of whom 370 were under twelve, and several of those, as must be known to the visiting magistrates, were not more than eight or ten years of age !
Causes of the Increase of Crime. Your Committee proceed, in the second place, to offer their opinion as to the prominent causes of the increase of crime. Those causes will be found to differ much in degree; and although several of them will point out their own remedies, your Committee will defer the consideration of those remedies until they shall come to their third or remedial proposition.
Among such causes your Committee rank the following; namely
The almost unchecked parading of the streets by the notoriously dissolute and abandoned of both sexes.
The multitude of gin-shops.
The existence of unlicensed wine-rooms, flash-houses, and other receptacles for known thieves and loose women.
Public fairs in London and its immediate neighborhood.
hardened criminals, who are in a state of continual return front short transportations from the Hulks, the Penitentiary, and from jails and houses of correction,
Your Committee will trouble the Court with a few observations on each of these heads, taking them in order.
Without inquiring at this moment into the different laws respecting vagrancy, or into those rules of construction, which constitute the reputed thief, it is enough for your Committee to observe, that, in point of fact, the streets are greatly infested by the dissolute of both sexes, and of all ages, but more particularly by very young persons, whose apprehension would not perhaps be strictly legal, were even any material degree of vigilance exercised with regard to the streets. Of these, the female part are constantly on the alert for the enticement of the unwary: while the males are as earnestly watchful for the means of pilfering and robbery. Your Committee have been informed, that a great number of boys and girls are sent out every day to get money, no matter by what means, so they bring home a certain amount at night, on which depends the reward or displeasure they meet with on their return. Until such practices can be put down, and the streets be comparatively cleared of the disorderly and the criminal, each day must add to the already overwhelming stock of offenders, and increase danger to the public. The
next great cause and source of crime is, in the opinion of your Committee, the institution of gin-shops. There are few evils against which society has more loudly exclaimed, than against these means of encouraging the excessive use of gin and other spirituous liquors ; though it is now many years since any attempt has been made by the constituted authorities to decrease their number or to check the consumption of the article. Your Com mittee annex two reports, which were presented to the quarters! sessions on the 9th January, 1816, and on the 14th June, 1817, to which they beg leave to call the attention of the Court. It will be found that the Committee to whom the subject was referred performed their duty with no ordinary degree of zeal and labor. After travelling through all the mutations of law and fact regarding this moral pestilence, as it was then denominated, from the acts of Charles II. to those of George III., and tracing the various provisions for its cure, of high duties and low duties, of high-priced licenses and low-priced licenses, varying from 501, to twenty shillings; of penal denunciations, from the pecuniary mulct, to whipping, imprisonment, and transportation; and after perusing the strong but vain memorials presented from time to time to government and the legislature, by different public bodies, among whom were the College of Physicians and the grand juries