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The criminal prosecution of inter-male sex 1850-1970: a Lancashire case study.

Evans, Jeffrey G.M (2016) The criminal prosecution of inter-male sex 1850-1970: a Lancashire case study. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The thesis addresses two related issues. Firstly, the lack of an accurate longitudinal reading of the incidence of indictable prosecutions predicated on the criminalisation of sexualised behaviours between males for the period 1850-1970; that is, consensual conducts (including ‘victimless’ behaviour discriminately criminalised) together with coercive behaviours. The results of the enumerative part of this investigation demonstrate significant variations in the frequency of prosecutions during what was a seminal period of criminalisation of such conduct. The rarity of cases of the later nineteenth century, followed by a slow, and sometimes erratic, increase during the inter-war years (1919-1939) preceded a more energetic period of prosecutions in the two decades about the publication of the government commissioned ‘Wolfenden’ Report (1957). The primary sources used to produce this accurate longitudinal count of the criminal prosecutions and, in particular, the Calendars also provided the evidential basis for the second task of this investigation. To date, there has been no in-depth longitudinal reading of the treatment of such cases by the four main constituent ‘players’ within the Criminal Justice System that were charged with the practical realisation of Parliament’s abstract criminalisation. This thesis provides both a quantitative and qualitative reading of the sometime consistent and divergent attitudinal relationship between these four ‘players’ in the prosecution of sexualised conduct between males: the prosecution, defence, adjudication and presiding judiciary. The practical criminalisation of inter-male sex 1850-1970: A Lancashire case study. These two complimentary readings are contextualised within a number of contingent realities of the period that suggest the criminalisation of sexualised behaviours was not a major policing priority for much of the period. Further, that when such cases did come to trial the success rate and, therein further prosecutions, was heavily reliant on the role of the defendant cooperating with their own conviction. Finally, the choice of these investigatory goals was in large part addressed by a reading of the specialised historiography within this relatively new field of study and thereby in part an attempt to light-up previously unexplored territory.

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