The Monster Evil: Policing and Violence in Victorian Liverpool

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9781846316838: The Monster Evil: Policing and Violence in Victorian Liverpool

Book by Archer John E

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Victorian Liverpool had an unenviable reputation for violence. This book sets out to assess both the scale and variety of Liverpool's violence, and the means by which it was policed. It has been exhaustively researched and is persuasively argued. It adds significantly to the wider knowledge of, and to the debates about the history of criminal violence and of policing. Finally, it might also be read usefully by contemporary politicians and media pundits. -- Professor Clive Emsley, Open University Police history is becoming a subject of interest to cultural as well as social historians. Integrating this history into broader frameworks such as modernisation, bureaucratisation, professionalisation and state building can lead to fascinating new insights into general history. Despite the outstanding studies in police history in the context of German historiography - for example the works of Alf Ludtke, Wolfram Siemann, Peter Nitschke and Ralph Jessen[1] - a lot remains to be researched in the field of German police history. The United States and Britain share a richer tradition of innovative and inspiring police histories, a topic frequently researched at least since the 1970s. Police history, in these studies, serves as a means to arrive at a better understanding of processes like industrialisation and urbanisation, the formation of the working class, but also in answering questions regarding the implementation of civic values and the reaffirmation of gender relations. The variety of approaches to and perspectives on police history in Britain is obvious from a look at the recent works on the topic that are portrayed in this review. Each book to be discussed below is tackling its own distinguished set of questions, discussing different periods, using different evidence and building up different, but often complementary arguments. John Archer's study "The Monster Evil" is not so much a police history in a narrow sense but rather a history of violence. Archer reconstructs Liverpool's reputation as the criminal capital of Britain during the nineteenth century. Of course, this includes the history of the Liverpool constabulary force that was established along the lines of the (London) Metropolitan Police in 1836. Archer examines the process of administrative integration that merged the privately organised dock police and the separate day and night police into a unified police body. But the most impressive chapters of his book and, clearly, its main concern deliver an in-depth analysis and typology of violence and violent behaviour. Archer discusses not only police and anti-police violence, but also fenian activities, sectarian tensions and riots resulting from the presence of a strong Irish migrant community in Liverpool. Beyond these highly politicised conflicts, one can learn a lot about the characteristics and performance of male-on-male violence in urban everyday life. Archer provides an outstanding analysis of the public debates on fighting styles, the use of weapons and the distinction between an acceptable "fair fight" and inacceptable "brutality". The chapter dealing with these aspects can be considered a masterpiece in the study of national and ethnic, social and gender stereotyping. Furthermore, drawing inspiration from the labelling approach in sociology, Archer analyses the social construction of the so called "Liverpool roughs" as "folk devils" and necessary evil to legitimize a certain style of policing and to reassure moral standards. Archer completes his study with thoughtful chapters on racist violence faced by Liverpool's early black community, on violent women, domestic and sexual violence and juvenile criminals. Belegex. H-Soz-u-Kult 2012 John Archer's study "The Monster Evil" is not so much a police history in a narrow sense but rather a history of violence. Archer reconstructs Liverpool's reputation as the criminal capital of Britain during the nineteenth century. Belegex. H-Soz-u-Kult 2012 Since John Tobias published his pioneering work on urban crime and policing almost forty-five years ago, historians have opened up the field considerably. In recent years, regional studies drawing on police and trial records, national and local archives, and newspaper accounts have proliferated. John Archer has presented a well-documented study of violent crime in Liverpool in the second half of the nineteenth century, making his account the most complete for any English city. He discusses male-on-male violence, gangs, women as victims and perpetrators, domestic violence, sexual violence, and violence by and against children. He is careful to put these in the context of time and place, with due regard for class, gender, religion, and even racial considerations. His concentration is on Liverpool's slum areas that were notorious for poverty, chronic underemployment, and poor housing conditions. Archer questions whether Liverpool's violent reputation, fed by the contemporary press, was deserved, and the answer is yes, but only in some poor parts that defied the general decline of violence in the latter part of the century. It would have been surprising if Liverpool had not been a violent place, given its status as Britain's main port, with a huge casual labor market and roughly 30,000 sailors ashore at any time looking for entertainment. As Britain's second largest city, its population doubled between 1841 and 1891, with 22 percent being Irish, the highest percentage in any English city. Anti-Catholic and anti-Irish sentiments (even in the police) were evident, and Orange marches in the city only exacerbated sectarian tensions. The murder figures reached their peak in the late 1860s with a rate of 5.65 (per 100,000), only slightly below that of New York City with 5.8. The rate for London was 0.41 in 1868. Thereafter, the rates in Liverpool and London declined. The high numbers had to do with the murder of infants and children who died by various means, as coroners' inquests show. In fact children under a year old were by far the largest group of homicide victims in Britain. Such crimes, often involving neglect or "accident," were hard to prosecute. Much of the book is given over to personal violence, which was usually fueled by heavy drinking. Male culture involved drinking and buying drinks for others. Dockworkers were often paid in pubs or beer houses, which were on practically every corner.When wages were high, the liquor flowed even more, resulting in an increase in drink-related violence and assaults on police. Wife and child beating were common, expressing the man's traditional right to chastise his family in the privacy of his own home. Police and neighbors were often reluctant to intervene into the "sanctity" of the Victorian family, a "mind your own business" ethic. Some of the most appalling domestic brutality that stopped just short of homicide drew surprisingly short prison sentences. Pedophilia did not occasion any moral panic, and a child molester might expect a year or two in prison at most. Rape was relatively infrequent, and there were ninety-nine cases reported between 1862 and 1892. Rape figures are always suspect, however, as a woman would have to establish her virtue and show proof of resistance to be a convincing rape victim. Still, the conviction rate of 29 percent is reasonable by our current standards. The "fair fight" with fists or feet was part of the male notion of manliness and honor, although sailors from other nations played by different rules, using knives, for example. The man-on-man violence increasingly clashed with the middle-class notions of self-restraint, nonviolence, keeping the Sabbath, and even temperance. Women too got drunk, were violent, and got into fights like men, but drunken and violent women were an affront to prevailing notions of femininity, traitors to their sex. The Liverpool police are a major part of the book. They were formed in 1836 as a consolidation of day and night constables and the dock police. Liverpool was the most heavily policed city in Britain. In 1858, 60 percent of the police were English, 24 percent Irish, 10 percent Scottish, and 6 percent Welsh. Many of the English constables were Protestant and Orange in their affiliations and were scarcely neutral when they policed Irish areas. Constables faced rough and dangerous working conditions and low pay with virtually no training, and so turnover was very high. Many in working-class areas saw the police as overbearing and an unwelcome presence. Assaults on police were common. Walking a drunken and violent prisoner back to a police station was dangerous business, only made easier with the introduction of police wagons in the 1890s. As recruitment standards were increased, and police behavior was more closely controlled, there was a greater public acceptance of the police. The civilizing process worked to some extent, and Liverpool started to lose its lawless image by the end of the century. Violent crimes and drunkenness declined as drinking moved out of the pub into the home. Male violence and juvenile gangs came under greater public disapproval, and statistics show a marked drop in reported crime, consistent with other cities. Some areas, however, remained as violent as they had been a half century before. Children too were increasingly protected, and Liverpool was one of the first cities to make this official with the Liverpool Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, formed in 1883. Children who broke the laws were thought to be redeemable, and sentences were often lenient. Archer ends his book with a fascinating account by the journalist Hugh Shimmon, who accompanied police on a night shift in the Rosehill area in 1857. The author draws on Shimmon's perceptive observations throughout the book. Overall, the book is well written and perceptive. The accounts are often grim, but nonetheless fascinating, and the book should appeal to a wide audience. -- Phillip Smith Journal of British Studies, Vol. 51, No. 2 201204 ... the book is well written and perceptive. The accounts are often grim, but nonetheless fascinating, and the book should appeal to a wide audience. Journal of British Studies, Vol. 51, No. 2 201204 The Monster E...

Reseña del editor:

Liverpool gained a unique and notorious reputation during the 19th century for being an abnormally violent and criminal place. 'The Monster Evil' intends to explore the historical foundations of this stigmatization: were the fears real or an invention of the Victorian newspapers? In answering such questions the book examines Liverpool's violent crime and how effectively it was policed by the newly established constabulary through the use of local and national press reports, contemporary accounts and police records. In doing so issues relating to public acceptance and tolerance of violence and the police will be explored. All forms of criminal interpersonal violence are described and analysed in the context of the city; including notorious murders such as the Tithebarn-street kicking of 1874, the 'wholesale poisonings' by two sisters in 1883 and the killing of young children by other young children in 1855 and 1891. Everyday acts of violence in the home between family members, or in the street, whether as acts of robbery or as drunken unprovoked attacks on strangers or against the police, are also given prominence. An extract on police night shift duty by Liverpool's foremost 19th-century journalist, Hugh Shimmin, is included. The book, which covers much of the Victorian period, is based on original and extensive research. Through an examination of a wide range of 'typical' case studies and news stories, which exemplify the various kinds of violent crime found in Liverpool, readers will find the book accessible, authoritative and surprising in its resonance with present day crime and its news coverage by the media.

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