A Year's Crime at Devonport: Drunkenness on the Increase. The Problems of Policing Devonport 1870-1914
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May 11, 2017

Devonport Guildhall, Ker Street, Plymouth

As part of Plymouth History Month,  Professor Kim Stevenson and Dr Judith Rowbotham from the School of Law, Criminology and Government delivered a  public lecture exploring the problems associated with policing Devonport from 1870 to 1914 at the iconic Devonport Guildhall in association with RIO Real Ideas Organization based there, on 11 May 2017 6.30-8.00pm. The talk focussed on the crime heritage of Devonport as physically represented in the Devonport Guildhall and the kinds of everyday offending and low level criminal cases that the magistrates dealt with in the past. The problems associated with drunkenness and immorality and how these were tackled were highlighted in light of the concentration of some 40 public houses within a 5 to 10 minute walk of the Guildhall and the behaviour and conduct of visiting sailors and soldiers as well local inhabitants. The rivalry between Devonport, Plymouth and East Stonehouse within the Three Towns and its renaming from Plymouth Dock to Devonport in 1824 was also explored within this context.  The event was well attended and generated a lively question and answer session and Kim and Judith were delighted to receive some very positive feedback and an invitation to return next year.

We are currently working on a study to reveal the heritage of the Three Towns from the late 19th century onwards to recover forgotten tales and discover those never previously highlighted with a view to mapping continuity and change in how everyday offending was dealt with, and the impact it had on local communities, between two time periods 1880-1920 and more recently 1980-2020. 

In due course we want to engage the current community in discussing our findings to build a more comprehensive picture of the causes and effects of such offending.