Justice and injustice in the nineteenth-century and why its impact is still felt today

A spotlight will be shone on crime and punishment in the nineteenth-century and what it means for modern justice at a new talk.

Dr Rose Wallis, Associate Director of the Regional History Centre at the University of the West of England and Senior Lecturer in British Social History, will be bringing her talk, ‘Nineteenth-century Criminal Justice,’ to Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum in Dorchester on Sunday, February 24 at 1pm.

The nineteenth-century was one of the most significant periods in our social and judicial history. The talk aims to dig deeper and examine some of the questions that arise about justice and injustice which are still being debated today.

Dr Wallis said: “The nineteenth century saw the development of the adversarial trial, professional policing, new forms of punishment and changes in the way we treat young people within the criminal justice system. These developments reflect, and were shaped, by broader social and political changes, making the work of the courts a unique place to consider our society at this time.”

She added that Shire Hall was a ‘perfect’ setting for the talk, she said: “It embodies the history and promises to bring it to life. From its opening in 1797, to its closure in 1955, the lifetime of Shire Hall spans the critical changes in the uses and operation of the law. They are reflected in its changing architecture, in the people who administered justice here, and in the thousands of men and women who faced the bench as witnesses, prosecutors, and defendants.”

Dr Wallis added: “In the history of the courts at Shire Hall, we can see the development of what we’d recognise as our modern criminal justice system. What is perhaps striking, is when we dig deeper, we can see the continuities too, and reflect on some of the persistent questions about justice and injustice that we still wrestle with today.”

Tickets to Dr Wallis’ talk are £6.50 each and this includes a soup lunch. For more information visit shirehalldorset.org or call 01305 261849.