Concerns about crime

As long as there have been legal systems, there have been law breakers.

This section looks at some of the ways in which society has dealt with crime and criminals at different moments in history.

We have chosen a selection of sources showing facts, figures, attitudes and opinions about crime. These will allow you to address questions about the representation and treatment of crime in past centuries.

Questions to ask:

  • What part is played by stories about crime and punishment in popular culture?
  • Have young offenders always been treated differently to their older counterparts?
  • Has society always defined the same acts as 'criminal', or the same crimes as 'serious'?
  • Have particular crimes always warranted the same punishment?


Media and crime

Explore the relationship between crime and the media and look at sources such as the Newgate Calender to discover how crime and punishment was portrayed in the popular press.



Learn about sentencing and the variety of punishments doled out to offenders: from transportation to imprisonment.


Youth crime

Explore a variety of sources that focus on representations and explanations of youth crime and the treatment of young offenders in the past.