Anorak News | Hard Labour

Hard Labour

by | 16th, November 2004

‘SOMETIMES it is a blessing to have a Home Secretary who is blind.

”Trust my luck to pick a talking rabbit”

For if David Blunkett could see the picture on the front page of this morning’s Times – of a 10-year-old boy sentenced to a month’s hard labour – he would surely be drafting a new crime bill even now.

It is not only the sight of the poor miscreant that will appeal to the Government’s ”Tough on crime, tough on anyone who might possibly commit a crime” approach to law enforcement, but the sign round his neck chimes with another of Labour’s obsessions – targets.

Chalked on a piece of wood is the number ‘4100’ – an indication one assumes of the courts’ progress towards their target for convictions of 10-year-olds that month.

Indeed, were it not for the fact that the picture is in black and white, one would hardly know that it was in fact taken more than 130 years ago.

The boy’s name was George Davey, his crime was the theft of two rabbits – and his photo is among a number that have recently been released online by the National Archives.

Also featured in this morning’s Times is 12-year-old William Towers, also sentenced to one month of hard labour for stealing two rabbits.

And James Hempson, aged 13, who was lucky enough to come before the judge on a good day and escape with just four days’ hard labour and ten strokes with the birch for nicking a box of figs.

These pictures, says the Times, ”form part of a collection of prison records bearing testimony to the harshness of the justice system in the Victorian era”.

True enough but, as Mr Blunkett doesn’t need us to point out, the punishment worked.

Thefts of rabbits are extremely rare these days and thefts of boxes of figs have been all but eradicated…’

Posted: 16th, November 2004 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink