Criminalisation of children in Scotland 1840-1910

Kelly, Christine (2012) Criminalisation of children in Scotland 1840-1910. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis draws on a wide range of primary sources in order to explore the criminalisation of children in nineteenth century Scotland. The analysis is set in the context of far-reaching changes in the administration of criminal justice including the expansion of urban policing, alterations in criminal procedure and legislative developments. Against this background the thesis examines the impact of pragmatic, religiously inspired philanthropy on reform of juvenile justice in Scotland and argues that Scottish reformers in the 1840s and 1850s achieved a remarkable degree of success in setting up a unique pre-statutory national experiment to deal with juvenile offenders. This innovative diversionary system was based upon the concept of the day industrial school, first set up by Sheriff William Watson in Aberdeen in the early 1840s. A genuine welfare initiative, the day industrial school was preventive in approach, aimed at rescuing vagrant, destitute children and juvenile offenders from a life of crime. Instead of being sent to prison children were sent by the courts to the schools where they received education, food and training in a trade. This system provided a model which was emulated in the reform of juvenile justice throughout the UK and was also of international influence. However, one of the key contentions of this thesis is that from 1854 onwards the pre-statutory Scottish system underwent a process of transformation as it adapted to changes associated with the advent of a statutory UK framework governing certified industrial and reformatory schools. Pressures for uniformity, in the shape of centralising influences and standardising UK wide legislation, combined to subvert the humane ethos of the Scottish pre-statutory system. To the dismay of the original advocates of reform in Scotland the statutory system evolved in a way that they had not anticipated: by the closing decades of the nineteenth century diversionary systems for young offenders had developed into a mechanism for channelling large numbers of children into prolonged detention in residential industrial and reformatory schools, establishments which were penal in character. This entailed criminalisation of children on an immense scale, impacting in a particularly dramatic way on Scottish children. However, despite the enormous gulf between the benign aspirations and high idealism of the early Scottish reformers and the eventual dismal outcome in practice, there was evidence of an abiding current of humanitarianism still flowing through the Scottish system. This left its mark on the Scottish approach which continued, in some respects, to reflect the humanitarian legacy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Criminalisation of Children
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Supervisor's Name: Farmer, Prof. Lindsay and Leverick, Dr. Fiona
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Mrs Christine M. Kelly
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3601
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:09

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