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Policing Drunkenness in Victorian Cumbria


Drunkenness assumed increasing importance as a ‘problem’ in the discourses of the nineteenth century. This is a bottom-up study to examine the extent to which the policing of drunkenness was informed by local cultures, rather than directed by policies imposed from above. Drink related offences formed the largest category of charges coming before the courts, and constituted a significant part of the offending dealt with by police. This paper examines how the police in Cumbria managed drunkenness from 1874 to 1900. It uses the primary sources of the police and the courts, looking particularly at Kirkby Stephen and Kirkby Lonsdale, to show how local cultures shaped the praxis of policing. After 1860, temperance was the norm for Methodists and non-conformists, who increasingly defined pub culture as incompatible with respectability. It has been possible to assess the impact of temperance and Methodism upon the policing of drunkenness by comparing the data on arrests and summonses. The analysis of this data shows that differences of rates of arrest in the these locations are best explained by the influence of local cultures upon policing, rather than different patterns of drinking or policies imposed from above.


(2014, September). Policing Drunkenness in Victorian Cumbria. Presented at British Crime Historians Symposium 4, Liverpool

Conference Name British Crime Historians Symposium 4
Conference Location Liverpool
Start Date Sep 26, 2014
End Date Sep 27, 2014
Acceptance Date Sep 26, 2014
Publication Date Sep 26, 2014
Series Title British Crime Historians Symposium 4


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