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Britain, 1945–70

Policing Youth probes beneath the media sensationalism surrounding youth crime in order to evaluate the workings of juvenile justice and the relationship between young people and practitioners in a key era of social change (1945-70). The work of state representatives – the police, magistrates and probation officers - is mapped alongside models of discipline within families, neighbourhoods, schools and churches as well as the growing commercial sector of retail and leisure. Youth culture is considered alongside the social and moral regulation of everyday life.

The books uses a rich seam of sources – including criminal statistics, court registers, news coverage, contemporary surveys, autobiography, documentary and feature film – to reconstruct the relationship between national policy and local interventions. In so doing, it is offers an important comparison of England and Scotland, whose differences were formalised through separate legal and educational systems, whilst acknowledging the importance of region and municipality. It combines quantitative research methods with textual and spatial analysis, highlighting the significance of the material environment (including the post-war rebuilding of cities) in the management of young people’s behaviours. It shows that the period 1945-1970 saw a shift in modes of governance, as an increasing emphasis on young people’s capacity for self-determination was accompanied by more rigorous techniques of spatial restriction, exclusion and delimitation. Individual chapters focus on: police officers, the court system, violence, home and community, sexuality, commercial leisure, and reform.

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Welfare and justice
Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

1 Introduction: welfare and justice The 1944 documentary film Children of the City, which aimed to educate parents, teachers, and all those involved in social work, criminal justice or local government about the work of the Scottish juvenile courts, made stark connections between urban living and youth crime. Overcrowding and poverty meant that the street, with all its temptations, was the only playground outside of school hours: There are rides to be stolen on trams and lorries. There are the shopping centres, with miles of inviting windows. There are the big

in Policing youth
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Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

4 Violence Louise Jackson and Angela Bartie Across the postwar period crimes against the person remained a tiny minority of charges for which juveniles were brought before the British courts. They formed less than 0.5 per cent of proceedings against boys in the late 1940s, rising to little more than 3 per cent by the late 1960s; cases involving girls were even fewer.1 Yet, at the same time, there was a series of ‘moral panics’ linking male youth with criminal gangs, violence and offensive weapons, and depicting teenagers – particularly those who adopted sub

in Policing youth
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Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

Afterword This book has sought to chart continuity and change in the moral regulation of young people from 1945 to 1970, identifying mechanisms that were rhetorical, structural and spatial but which were ultimately contingent on the agency of the interpersonal, forged through everyday encounters, relationships and experiences. The Second World War did not rupture the seams of youth justice. Residential ‘reform’ institutions that dated back to the 1860s and a juvenile court system that was founded in 1908 provided the basis for official responses until around

in Policing youth
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Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

were cameo performances from other prominent figures in the youth justice/welfare field, including juvenile court magistrate Basil Henriques and Home Office Inspector, M.M. Simmons, author of Making Citizens.2 Authority figures were represented in terms of a benign paternalism, attempting to create reciprocity of trust and respect through the balancing of sympathetic care and measured discipline. ‘Delinquents’ were turned into citizens through participation in hard work, wholesome exercise and recreation, and acceptance of responsibility within the collective of the

in Policing youth
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Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

that the current phenomenon of ‘multi-agency’ cooperation around youth justice/welfare is not distinctly new. Across the twentieth century, but especially in the period 1940–60, police forces frequently worked in cooperation with religious organisations, the voluntary sector, education services, social work providers and parents. They were brought together through a shared belief in the need for social reconstruction during and after the war, expressed in terms of community and citizenship. Because of their role as law enforcers, police officers were often associated

in Policing youth
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Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

7 Commercial leisure If the institutions of home, school and workplace used techniques of temporal and spatial regulation to prevent ‘disorderly’ behaviour, what about young people’s ‘free’ time? As in the first half of the twentieth century ‘loafing’ on the streets continued to be discouraged, whilst membership of uniformed youth organisations and youth clubs was ubiquitously promoted as an antidote to increases in reported levels of youth offending. However, the postwar period also saw the demonisation – by police, media and some social workers – of new forms

in Policing youth
Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

resented these intrusions, there are examples across the postwar period of parents and guardians who reported their children to the police for stealing from the family home, leading to criminal charges. Although this phenomenon appears to contradict popular assumptions about a parental duty to defend and support family, explanation can be found in oral history research on the ‘moral economy’ of working-class communities; theft from ‘one’s own’, particularly relatives or neighbours, was viewed with opprobrium in the 1950s as previously.5 Liverpool youth club boys

in Policing youth
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Property, place and play
Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

admitted (as they were in almost all cases involving offences against property), adult intervention was a vital factor, and court appearance is a clear indicator that resolutions had not been reached through other means. Thus a study of case types can provide a clear indication of social and/or economic tensions relating to adults and young people in the postwar period. While fears of youth violence dominated popular press coverage of delinquency in the 1950s and 1960s, offences against the person constituted less than 4 per cent of cases heard in these two cities (see

in Policing youth
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Louise A. Jackson and Angela Bartie

need for self-discipline and self-restraint; even in 1970 around a half of Scottish secondary schools did not include it in the syllabus.21 ‘Moral hygiene’ pamphlets for adolescent males, which warned of the dangers of excessive masturbation as leading to psychological problems, were circulated through youth organisations such as the Boys’ Brigade.22 As in North America in the 1950s, marriage and the family were viewed as the ‘only legitimate site for sex’.23 As Judy Giles has argued, ‘good’ girls were expected to take responsibility for sexual restraint within

in Policing youth