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JOURNAL OF JURISPRUDENCE.
JUDICIAL STATISTICS, 1875. We have been in the practice, since ever the system of Judicial Statistics has been adopted, to give a summary of the Reports in our Journal. The Reports are very lengthy, and most uninviting, and some such abstracts have been acknowledged to be useful. We regret to learn from the preface to the Report for 1875 that Dr. Burton has to complain that the chief exception to full returns “ has been in the returns by the Clerks of the Outer House of the Court of Session, and with whom the department has all along found difficulties.” The reporter regrets this “as occasioning a very serious blemish to the statistical tables, that their continuity is thus interrupted, as they are continued on the principle of balancing and carrying over at the end of each year, as in the practice of commercial bookkeeping.”
The first division of the Report is devoted to “Police," which takes up thirty-two folio pages of this blue book. The first table gives the number of persons charged and disposed by the police in Scotland for the five years ending in 1875. The number of persons on this table in counties and burghs was in the first year (1871) 121,571, increased in 1875 to 123,169. But as given for counties, the first-named year is set down at 23,133, and the last at 28,031 whilst in burghs the first year has 98,438, and the last at 95,138. These results show an increase in county offenders of 4898, with a decrease in same class in burghs of 3300. This is a matter for observation, whether it positively evidences an increase of crime or of vigilance and efficiency in the respective rural and urban systems. Under the subdivision of classes, it is noteworthy that offences against the person have increased from 7843 in 1871 to 9554 in 1875; against property, from 14,259 in 1871 to 15,691 in 1875 ; whilst the strange classification of “miscellaneous ” has fallen from 119,542 in VOL. XX. NO. CCXXXIX.— NOVEMBER 1876.
1871 to 117,728 in 1875. But here again the counties show the greater increase, and burghs especially show a great decrease in the miscellaneous category, where it might be thought such petty offences would be most numerous. One important and favourable feature in this table is in the proportion of persons convicted to those acquitted. There were convicted in 1875, 117,231 in counties and burghs, but only 6990 were acquitted on trial. This speaks much for the efficiency and regularity of police proceedings. It is also worthy of remark that the relative proportions appear nearly the same in counties and burghs. Less satisfactory, however, is the class of "proceedings dropped,” being in 1875 no less than 14,218; giving 5720 for counties, and 8498 in burghs.
This first table is exhaustive of the whole, but there are a number of additional tables of the most minute character, showing the number of offences and offenders applicable to every county and burgh. These must have cost great pains and care to gather and tabulate, and the worth of which for any practical purpose we greatly doubt. One table gives one important fact, that 24 were "detained” (committed ?) to Reformatory Schools in 1871, with the same number in 1875, or an average during the five years of 19. The benefit here is shown in the other facts, that with these Reformatory (but still more by Industrial) Schools juvenile criminals under 12 years of age have fallen from 52 in 1871 to 24 in 1875, and under 16 years of age from 149 in 1871 to 127 in 1875, whilst in more mature age there has been generally an increase. One very important omission, we venture to think, exists in these elaborate tables, namely, the cost of the police in each county and burgh,and especially the several rates of pay, seeing it is notorious that, the best men, so soon as fully trained, are removed to other counties and especially to England, where the remuneration is made such as to secure highly-qualified men for the very delicate duties of police. As accounts are annually published for each county and burgh, this could have been easily obtained, and by comparison would have afforded matter of importance far greater than the mass of minute and trifling particulars which will be entombed in this blue covering, undisturbed by any reader, however mad in the thorny path of statistics. The omission is all the more to be wondered and regretted, seeing that under the next division of “Prisons and Prisoners,” the matter of finance forms the most prominent place in that department.
The second department of the Report is devoted to “ Prisons and Prisoners." The first table is one of the daily average of criminal and civil prisoners in every year from 1840 to 1875 inclusive. In the first-named year there was a daily average of 1940 criminal and 108 civil prisoners in Scotland, whilst in the last cited year the criminal average had run up to 2969, that of the civil prisoners had fallen to 79. It will be noticed that the proportion of male and female criminals throughout the series of years bear almost the same ratio. The next table gives the number of criminal prisoners from 1861 to 1875. In the first-named year the number was 19,439, and in the last of the series it had increased to 44,144. One important fact brought out in this table is the wholly unavailing use of short periods of imprisonment for correction or improvement. In the year 1875 there had been in prison for twenty times and under fifty, 1560 criminals, and for fifty times and upwards, 504. Most of the lifetime of these criminals must have been spent within the walls of a prison at great public expense. They were occasionally let loose to prey upon society, to prowl and steal, and then resort to their lair in prison. It would be kindness to these habitual criminals, and a social advantage, were they kept continually in some degree of restraint. This is more especially the fact, as it is well known that, generally, these persons are confirmed drunkards, and who, so soon as they are at liberty, seek to gratify their craving for intoxicants, and take every dishonest means to obtain the supplies. The educational table is a matter of much interest. In 1875, 9700 "could not read,” 26,518 “read with difficulty,” and only 7175 could “read well.” Under the head of writing, it is reported that 18,235 “could not write," 472 “could only sign their names, 22,376 “write with difficulty," and 2310 “could write well,” whilst 636 “had learned more than mere reading and writing." We place no great reliance on these statistics, as the test must be of a very loose character, and the pupils not at the time in the best mood for an educational examination founded on results. The chief and most reliable statistics in this department is the expenditure of prisons, and the annual cost of each prisoner. The total expenditure for the year 1871 was £59,820, and in 1875, £70,063; for 1871 the annual cost of each prisoner was £22, 17s. 2d., and in 1875, £23, 11s. 11d., but deducting net profit on work in 1871, the net annual cost was £20, 10s., and in 1875, £20, 16s. 9d. The number of prisons in Scotland, independently of the general prison at Perth, is 56. We learn from a separate table that during the year there was only one escape, which speaks highly for the security and guardianship of Scotch prisons. There was also only one suicide.
The highest cost for each prisoner is set down against Campbeltown, in Argyleshire, giving £57,9s. 6d. of gross cost, and after deducting 15s. 7d. for profit from work, gives £56, 13s. 11d. as the net cost. The lowest cost is in the prison of Glasgow, which is set down at £17, 7s. 3d. as its gross cost, with 9s. 4d. as profit on work, and £16, 17s. 11d. as the net cost. The prison of Wigton is set down at £40,198. 2d. for the cost of each prisoner, with the addition of 16s. 8d. as “loss on prisoner's work”!
We venture to say that the number of tables under this department are fearfully numerous, and some of them not of the least interest. Great as must have been the trouble and cost in the collection, tabulation, and publication, we doubt if ever mortal eye will scan the forbidding aspect of these useless figures. Some of the statistics, however, especially on finance at the present time, are of interest. When it is proposed to withdraw the Scotch prisons from local authority and vest them under Government, it would be well to examine the question with a view not only to superintendence but of finance. There is no doubt but that the management and control of Scotch prisons are on a much better footing than those in England. In Scotland there are general rules for all prisons, and enforced in every minute detail. In England it would appear that every prison has its own regulations as to food and every other matter of detail. In this way those who have come in contact with prisoners in Scotch jails will often find those who have been prisoners in England give information of the best and the worst prisons in England, especially with reference to the supply and quality of food, and complain grievously that in whatever prison they are sent to in our country they are treated in the same uniform manner without variety.
The Report now enters on what more properly is termed “ Judicial Statistics," rather than the details of police and prisons. The Supreme Court, of course, leads the van. The first table is intended to give the business in the Outer House during the years 1871-1875," so far as returned by the Clerks of Court," and following up what was stated in the preface, one column is left wholly blank, with the significant note, "cannot be given, the returns for 1874, 1875 having been defective." In a footnote, the defaulting clerks are pilloried not by name, but by office marks. The inquiry comes, whether there is any obligation incumbent on those clerks, as well as the clerks of subordinate Courts, to furnish the necessary information. If there is, ought it not to be enforced; or if it cannot, is it right to give to the public certain statistics with the caution that they are defective, and so not reliable ? Subject to this observation there appears the following entry of causes brought into the Outer House within the years included in this table 1871, 947; 1872, 1254; 1873, 1321 ; 1874, 830; 1875, 1146.
We are at a loss to discover how the gross total of cases in dependence at the close of each year is either augmented or diminished by “causes transferred from one Lord Ordinary to another," any more than a man transferring his cash from one pocket to another by such transferrence is made either richer or poorer. The same table gives other minute details, some of little importance, such as whether a case comes into Court by summons, or petition, or by “writ other than summons or petition.” The result of final judgments are worth recording. We only take the year 1875. Of 825 judgments, 597 were for the pursuer, 202 for defender, and 26 of a mixed character. But a striking circumstance is brought out that the successful pursuers got costs in 484 cases, and were denied them in 111, whilst the defenders gaining their
causes got costs in 128 cases, and were refused in 72. Recourse to juries are returned as being small in the Outer House during the series of years. In 1873 these are set down at 24, in 1874 at 9, and only 6 appear in 1875, and of these 6 the defender had the verdict in 4, leaving only 2 for the pursuer. At a farther portion of the Report some very uninteresting tables are given applicable to the Outer House. The value of these may be tested by the curious fact that on page 74 there is a table applicable to the years 1860 to 1873 inclusive, and the columns of which present one entire blank! From one table we learn that one unfortunate lingerer has been in Court since 20th May 1830, nearly completing its jubilee of judicial life.
The next table in order (though seemingly misplaced) is devoted to the Inner House. Here the same remark requiring explanation was made on a similar point in the Outer House, as it is not obvious how the transferrence of causes from one division to the other can add or subtract from the “ total causes before the Court.” The result of appeals from the Outer House is so important, that we give the figures for the whole series of years :
1871. 1872. 1873. 1874. 1875. Adhered to
90 73 112 118 123 With alterations
33 39 Partially adhered and partially reversed 22 16
16 17 151 136 165
181 Trials by jury
13 It appears that within the year 825 judgments were given in the Outer House. The oldest thus disposed of was initiated in 1865, having the lifetime of ten years. Although it is favourable to observe the dispatch between closing a record and pronouncing judgment, yet some few extend beyond 100 weeks, and three even above 200 weeks. But this delay may admit of most satisfactory explanation
One crucial table is to be found on page 79, giving the results of judgments of Lord Ordinaries brought by appeal under review of the Inner House. The results are as follows:
Affirmed. Reversed. Partly both.
2 Lord Rutherfurd Clark
2 The Report would have been rendered still more complete had it given the cases appealed to the House of Lords and the results.
The Report on Sheriff Courts commences with a table of business in these Courts from 1871 to 1875 inclusive. In the first year of the series there were cases initiated within the year in the Ordinary