The Liverpool Underworld: Crime in the City 1750-1900 (Paperback) by Macilwee Dr Michael
In the nineteenth century Liverpool gained a notorious reputation as the most crime-ridden place in the country. Dock theft alcohol-related crime prostitution sectarian violence a high level of female offending and armies of juvenile thieves made Liverpool a distinct criminal landscape 'the black spot on the Mersey'. Using contemporary newspapers and journals (both local and national) autobiographies and first-hand accounts gleaned from parliamentary and prison reports the book explores the social background conditions and events that helped create and sustain the variety and high level of criminality. The book is a mixture of analysis statistics and accounts of criminal practices from poaching to pocket-picking to prostitution. Long buried away in newspaper archives and dusty library shelves the voices of the long-forgotten Liverpool poor and so-called 'criminal classes' are allowed to speak for themselves offering their own motivations fears boasts and aspirations. The book also looks at how the various institutions including the police courts prisons Churches and philanthropic organizations attempted to bring order to the streets and improve the behaviour of the Liverpool public. Finally the book suggests that we are still struggling with the legacy of Victorian social problems and solutions particularly in relation to debates about alcohol prostitution and the usefulness of prisons as punishment.