Paul Lawrence’s article in The British Journal of Criminology

Paul Lawrence, Asa Briggs Professor of History, has recently published an article entitled “The Vagrancy Act (1824) and the Persistence of Pre-emptive Policing in England since 1750” in The British Journal of Criminology (May 2017). This article argues that research into preventive and pre-emptive crime control in the United Kingdom has marginalized the historical persistence of the power to arrest and convict on justified suspicion of intent. It traces the genesis of this power in statute law (particularly the Vagrancy Act of 1824) and demonstrates its consistent use in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Overall, the article argues that ‘pre-emptive’ arrest and conviction on suspicion of intent have been a significant component of UK police powers since the later eighteenth century, and seeks to demonstrate the value of historical criminology in problematizing contemporary debates.


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