In London, the dispensation of justice has been of great concern. Historically, there has been a lot of complaints on the treatment of petty offenders from the low social classes in this country. While it is a common knowledge that felony is a small offence which does not cause a hugely detrimental impact on a country’s economy, how felony convicts have been punished has been so unfair. However, in most cases, such sentences have been made under the influence of the wealthy class.
During the 19th century, the London Police Court was manipulated by the rich to oppress the poor felon convicts. Despite being unjustified, this was done to protect the interests of the vibrant community. For instance, employers who were faced with cases of industrial action in their premises would much rely on the help of magistrates to restore sanity in their businesses. Similarly, the judicial process was used in favour of employers to help them to get rid of the workers involved in petty thefts (Universities of Hertfordshire, 1983). This was prominently used in the Shipping companies in which the magistrates were relied upon to help the employers punish dock thieves. Instead of punishing workers by interdiction or sacking it was felt imposing harsh punishments would eradicate such offences.
The enforcement of the Criminal Justice Act worsened the situation because it allowed magistrates to impose harsher fines on petty offenders who would be unluckily convicted. In this case, it would be a win on the prosecutor team and the surest way of dealing with such offences which were very difficult to detect. At the same time, the punishments prevented the offenders from repeating the same acts and graduating into more dangerous offences like murder. By eradicating all the fruits and vegetable thieves, traders would get a more relaxed time carrying out their activities without any obstacle. This would also challenge the thieves to work harder to provide for themselves.
- Universities of Hertfordshire (1983) Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 8th September 1831, page 138. London: HRI Online Publications.