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Local records CRIME & PUNISHMENT 27/2/06 12:23 pm Page 36 Crime and punishment Thieves, drunks and prostitutes thrived as much in the past as they do today. Nigel Green lifts the lid on the hidden Victorian underworld of the North East J uvenile crime, joy-riding, binge drinking, race riots and a booming sex trade are all problems we associate with modern times. Yet despite what our grandparents may have told us, such crimes were just as common in the so-called good old days. After spending two years researching my book, Tough Times and Grisly Crimes; A History of Crime in Northumberland and County Durham, I now know that even during the Victorian era the region was plagued by delinquents, drunken yobs, prostitutes and paedophiles. The evidence is all there in court records, police photographs of criminals, newspaper reports and official papers. The only difference from today, perhaps, is that it could be argued that grinding poverty meant these people had more of an excuse to do what they did. Yet even that does not apply to crimes such as paedophilia which, despite the hysterical headlines of today, are not a modern invention. A pamphlet, produced in 1883 by the Temperance Society, a Christian group opposed to alcohol, exposed the trafficking of children for sex. Entitled The Devil’s Mudbath: The Unholy Slave 36 • ANCESTORS APRIL 2006 Traffic In Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, it told how brothel-keepers selected teenage girls – and even children – to boost their income. “There are painful cases of abduction of servant girls and the seduction of mere children, lured by the traffickers in human flesh. A respectable citizen of Newcastle was recently

Crime And Punishment

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