Crime and punishment – as seen 100 years ago

DETAILS of burglars, bigamists and brothels are among more than 200 records released by Jersey Archive this week.

Read the story of William Edward Le Bas, Walter Gallichan and Clifford Charles Walker in today's JEP
Read the story of William Edward Le Bas, Walter Gallichan and Clifford Charles Walker in today's JEP

DETAILS of burglars, bigamists and brothels are among more than 200 records released by Jersey Archive this week.

Each year the archive - run by Jersey Heritage - opens hundreds of documents that have remained secret for 30, 75 or 100 years.

Police photographs from albums kept by the force in 1912 hold images of those convicted of theft, serious assault, dangerous driving, vagrancy, prostitution and running a brothel.

These include the case of three bumbling criminals who came unstuck after stealing alcohol from a shop owned by Ann Street Brewery in 1912.

• See today's JEP to read examples of cases that have been published

Comments for: "Crime and punishment – as seen 100 years ago"

Back in the days

Brothel ... They knew how to live back in the days ah ah

MR GALLICHAN

ahh bahr cri.... mr gallichan WE'LL HAVE NONE OF THAT!

Jerry Gosselin

I have previously criticised the Jersey Archive when they released to the media a photo of two women who were convicted of prostitution in Jersey a century ago. That was shameful as those women could have left relatives in Jersey and it seems nothing has changed- they do this tabloid-style PR exercise every year now.

I am a fairly regular user of the Jersey Archive and it annoys me immensely that a bureaucrat who probably didn't have ancestors living in Jersey 100 years ago sees nothing wrong in drawing attention to salacious records like these, which will embarrass some local descendants of the people highlighted. It also leads me to ask exactly what law regulates when and if personal and sensitive records can be released for public inspection- are the bureaucrats just deciding these things for themselves as they see fit?

In future, might we see such things as patient medical records (including case notes for St Saviour's Hospital residents) being released? Parish records identifying individual welfare claimants in the 20th century? Education records, including sensitive case notes for children brought up in institutions like Haut de la Garenne? Records of people being treated for drug or alcohol addiction? Psychology Department patients? Abortion patients? Brook Advisory visitor details? As you can see, there are plenty of examples of data that is so confidential it should never be considered for release even after 100 years, but if these types of records eventually end up in the care of the Jersey Archive, where is the statutory protection for the data subjects after they have died?

A good opportunity for me to also mention the cock-up that the Jersey Archive made last summer when it completely changed its web search facility. You now get loads of completely irrelevant search results when you type in a name. The changes also resulted in the breaking of all existing web hyperlinks pointing to old Jersey Archive search results. Is anyone going to be held accountable for that? Well what do you think!

runner

agree somewhat.. some stories are facinating for us locals, but agree what law is being broken to release the identity and photos etc. maybe they have a rule of x amount of years before becomes public knowledge perhaps.

Toby Young

Jerry, how is releasing the names of present day convicts different from convicts of 1912?

Jerry Gosselin

First of all, from what I can tell, the records that have been released now by the Jersey Archive relating to the criminals of 100 years ago could NOT have been information that was freely available when the crimes were committed a century ago. Judging by the images that were published in the paper edition of tonight's JEP, these must have been CONFIDENTIAL documents- not information made public during the court process that was then published in gory detail by the newspapers of the day. We can't stop researchers browsing the newspaper archives or court records for accounts of these crimes because this is information that is already in the public domain (even the names of the child victims of the Beast of Jersey in the 60's are freely available today in the public records of the Royal Court), but surely there is an argument for tight statutory controls on the release of additional CONFIDENTIAL administrative records that were never originally intended to be made available for general public inspection?

Regarding the criminals of today, we have a supposedly competent new Data Protection Law to protect all data subjects, yet this still somehow allows the Police to pass on to the Press high-definition colour mugshots taken in police custody of certain recently-convicted felons. These photos are clearly CONFIDENTIAL documents that have somehow been allowed to be released into the public domain. Typical of the closed system in Jersey, there has been no attempt either judicially or politically to examine the legality of these leaks and whether they satisfy the highest European standards of data protection. I can't recall the Data Protection Commissioner (a former States of Jersey Jersey Police employee!) ever having commented on the release of these mugshots either but then again I might have missed it.

Furthermore, would today's Data Protection Law prevent modern confidential records on islanders (police records or otherwise) being likewise released by the Jersey Archive in say, 50, 75 or 100 years time? That is why my original comments above raised the issue of certain highly-sensitive medical and educational records- are there any statutory controls to prevent whoever is in charge of these records in decades to come having the complete personal discretion to decide whether they should be made public or not?

Beaumont

Aren't you overreacting a bit Jerry?

I can't imagine anybody's lives will be blighted by revealing details of prostitution arrests 100 years ago!

Jerry Gosselin

Think of it this way, Beaumont. If you found out your own grandmother or great-grandmother had been prostituting herself courtesy of some pen-pusher at the Jersey Archive releasing her mugshot and full personal details to any media outlet that expressed an interest, how would you feel, particularly if you had very different memories of her when she was still alive and sat you on her knee and gave you treats? I think a lot of people cherish those memories of their elderly grandparents and would be more than a little angry and upset if some media corporation decided to violate their image for the purposes of little more than light entertainment and titillation. These people aren't around to explain their actions. In any case, Jersey's system of policing and criminal justice was known to be totally rotten in those days (as attested to by all those 19th century petitions to the Privy Council followed by Royal Commissions, parliamentary bills, Orders in Council, disputes between the Lt. Governor and the States etc.) so how many of these felons were actually innocent but had no chance to prove it?

One should remember that there was no state support as we know it a hundred years ago. If you couldn't put a meal on the table for your children then you just had to do what you had to do. For a lot of women that meant prostitution and for a lot of men (like those three in the photo above) it meant petty theft or robbery. Either that or there was the prospect of your family splitting up and some of them ending up as inmates in the workhouse at the General Hospital, or other notorious institutions. We have no right to be judging these people by the very different standards of today. The choices available to them were very limited indeed.

Knee-trembler gov?

You leave my late Granny out of this. She was a lovely lady who made very many men very happy. She spread happiness everywhere.

Renegade

Happiness and syphilis.

C Le Verdic

Why aren't there any brothels in Jersey (that I know about) nowadays?

There could be a top job lined up for a suitable outsider regulating them. In fact, even better, as a returning Jerseyman needing £100K a year and some essential insular insurance years, I'm your ideal candidate.

Uncle Albert

I don't recognise the one in the middle but the other two look remarkably like the forbears of Rodney and Del Boy.

JT

I suppose all these tea leaves, tarts and tramps were immigrants eh!!

honest gov

Oh definately, as the names suggest all convicts were just off the boat from the mainland.

Pierrepoint

For stealing 10 bottles of alcohol and 40 packets of fags from a shop the punishment for these three men was 12 months hard labour.

Today they would have got a stern telling off, unless it was their third offence when they would have a got a really,really stern telling off.