|www.corpun.com : Archive : Up to 1975 : UK Judicial Nov 1952|
News Chronicle, London, 15 November 1952
'Flog for all violence'
By the Political Correspondent
PARLIAMENT will consider shortly after Christmas a Bill to
impose corporal punishment for any offence involving violence.
News Chronicle, London, 18 November 1952
Meeting votes for flogging
News Chronicle Reporter
MORE than 500 people decided last night to petition the Home Secretary to restore to the courts power to impose corporal punishment for crimes of violence.
Fewer than 50 voted against the petition.
Although opponents to corporal punishment were in a minority their voices were heard.
Their case was put by Mrs. Pauline Fairbrother, of Queen's
Wave of fear
Councillor W.J. Gibson said that before bringing it back every
other way of stepping violence should first be explored.
Time, New York, 24 November 1952
The Cat & the Birch
Beneath the impartial face of British Justice lies a streak of legal ruthlessness: through the centuries, Britons have found reasons for flogging people. Last week they were again debating the merits of the "cat" and the "birch."
In the 18th and early 18th centuries, flogging was prescribed 1) for anyone dunning an ambassador, 2) for a person slaughtering a horse without a license, 3) for any "incorrigible rogue," such as a man twice guilty of fortune telling or indecent exposure, 4) for pulling a gun in the presence of a sovereign. In the British army and in prisons, men were frequently sent to the "triangles" (the upright frame upon which the offender was spread-eagled for flogging) for insubordination. Flogging was the punishment decreed 1) in 1863 for garroters and robbery with violence, 2) in 1898 for homosexuality, 3) in 1912 for white-slave trafficking, 4) in 1916 for armed robbery.
Bicycle Chain & Razors. The traditional instrument of punishment was the cat-o'-nine-tails, nine lashes of whipcord, each about ⅛in. thick and 35 in. long, attached to a 20-in. handle. The cat was applied across the bare back -- in recent times, in the presence of a doctor -- after neck and kidneys had been protected against permanent injury. Maximum number of strokes for civilian offenders: 50. A milder alternative ordered by judges was the birch, a yard-long bundle of twigs, soaked in water and whacked across bare buttocks.
Four years ago the British Labor government abolished flogging. The curve of crime increase immediately flattened out, rose slightly in 1950, leveled off again in 1951. Now it is about to hit a new high. What disturbs Britons today is not crime incidence so much as crime violence. Said Earl Howe, in the House of Lords: "You can hardly pick up a newspaper without seeing some report of a case where . . . gangsters have [attacked] some inoffensive, defenseless person [with] a revolver, a cosh,* a bicycle chain, or a razor."
Added Lord Chief Justice Goddard: "The facility with which a razor blade can be hidden in the hand and used with the most horrible effect has to be seen to be believed. When someone lets a cosh fall on a bench in court ... it makes one shudder to think of the effect of it on a human head." A longtime believer in corporal punishment, Judge Goddard asked for the return of the birch, which, when "laid on by a chief warder who knew his business, not only gave them a taste of something unpleasant, but led to considerable ridicule." Tory Lord Chancellor Simonds protested that Judge Goddard's proposal "would put the clock back 100 years." A newspaper poll of M.P.s showed opinion dividing on party lines: Conservatives for the birch; Labor against.
Socialism & Standards. Last week the discussion moved to the House of Commons, where Sir Waldron Smithers, Toriest of back-bench Tories, suddenly flourished a nail-spiked cosh. "It is not in order to bring an offensive weapon into the House," boomed the Speaker. "Take it out! Take it out!" shouted Labor members. But Smithers' cosh proved to be a child's toy made of hollow rubber. Said Smithers: "It is a sham, but by filling it with sand it can be made into a lethal weapon." Smithers asked for a ban on coshes. "The increase in violence," he said, "is the direct result of six years of Socialist and materialist philosophy in action. All moral standards are cracking."
At week's end Tory M.P. Eric Bullus announced that he would draft a bill for the restoration of the birch and possibly the cat, and 41 Tories formally requested a full debate on corporal punishment.
*Nineteenth century thieves' cant: a blackjack.
Copyright © 2005 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
THE ARCHIVE index
About this website
Country fileswww.corpun.com Main menu page
Copyright © C. Farrell 2006, 2012
Page updated January 2012