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CAPITAL PUNISHMENT The Historic and Contemporary use of Capital Punishment in the UK.

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Presentation on theme: "CAPITAL PUNISHMENT The Historic and Contemporary use of Capital Punishment in the UK."— Presentation transcript:

1 CAPITAL PUNISHMENT The Historic and Contemporary use of Capital Punishment in the UK

2 CP in the pre-Christian UK We can only suppose about the use of CP in Pagan Scotland and the UK. Very few law codes exist from the Anglo-Saxon, or as far as we were concerned, Pictan period to provide an insight into legal culture beyond the influence of Roman law and how this legal culture developed over the course of time.

3 What to look for and take notes on: Important landmarks in the use of Capital Punishment in the UK. Important landmarks in the abolishment of Capital Punishment in the UK.


5 Roman Law Roman law in a broader sense refers not only to the legal system of ancient Rome, but also to the law that was applied throughout most of Western Europe until the end of the 18th century.

6 As the Romans had adopted Christianity in the early part of the 4 th Century CE with the rule of Constantine I (left), many of the moral principles we find today derive from Christian sources.

7 An aside The political decision made by Constantine I to adopt Christianity as state religion had a great deal to do with its current status as most popular world religion (and makes for interesting reading). As well as ethical codes, many Pagan beliefs, celebrations and ceremonies were appropriated by early Roman Christians.

8 Mithras

9 An aside: Mithras Based on research of Pagan beliefs carried out in 1903, here are some of the key beliefs about this pre-Christian Roman Sun God. Sent to earth to live as a mortal through which sinners could be reborn into immortal life. Died for our sins but came back to life the following Sunday. Born of a virgin on 25 th December attended by shepherds and later became known as light of the world.

10 An aside: Mithras He had 12 disciples with whom he shared a last meal with before dying. Following this his followers symbolically consumed his flesh and blood and gave each other gifts on 25 th December. Worshipped on Sundays. Often painted with a halo around his head.

11 Back to Capital Punishment in our History Partly due to the male-dominated society of the time as well as the fear of a Pagan return to threaten Christian society, the Witch Trials were a dark time in the UKs relationship with Capital Punishment. Male Christian Priests set about burning, hanging and drowning men and women.

12 Remember At this time crime was not qualified so much by the state and instead seen as sin as concluded by the Church. Most ethical affairs were dealt with at a local level.

13 The Witch Trials The early trials began in the 15th and early 16th centuries, before peaking in the 17th century.

14 The Scottish Witch Trials During 1661 to 1662 Scotland held one of the largest witch hunts in European history, in which an estimated 600 people were accused of witchcraft or ritually summoning the devil. How many were executed in the 16 month period is unknown. With the exception of the witch-hunt of 1597, there had never previously been so many people convicted of witchcraft.

15 Gender Almost everywhere women were accused and executed more than men, with 80% of those accused and 85% of those executed in Europe being women. The sentence was generally death as Exodus 22:19 states, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". There were other sentences, the most common to be chained for years to the oars of a ship, or excommunicated then imprisoned.

16 The most common death sentence was to be burnt at the stake.

17 The frequent use of 'swimming' to test innocence/guilt means that an unknown number also drowned more or less accidentally prior to conviction.

18 Capital Punishment in the UK and our more recent History 1808: Samuel Romilly introduced reforms to abolish CP for crimes : CP is abolished for shop lifting. 1861: CP as a punishment is reduced to only a few crimes.

19 The 1957 Homicide Act This restricted CP as a sentence for murder in these 5 conditions only: In the course of theft. By shooting or causing an explosion. While resisting arrest or when trying to escape. Of a police/prison officer. On a repeated basis (2 murders on different occasions).

20 CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ABOLISHED The last executions in Britain were of two men on August 13 th 1964 (1963 in Scotland). Both Peter Anthony Allen (21) and Gwynne Owen Evans (24) were hung in Manchester. They were convicted with the murder of John Alan West while robbing his house on April 7 th 1964.

21 CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ABOLISHED Another vote in 1969 finally made the abolition of the death penalty for murder permanent in the UK (a further vote in 1973 abolished it permanently in Northern Ireland). Parliament then voted to abolish the death penalty for murder for a five- year experiment in 1965.

22 Bring it back? In February 1994, a majority of 197 votes defeated a proposal to reintroduce the death penalty for the murder of a police officer on duty. There have been at least 13 attempts to bring back hanging for various categories of murder since All have failed.

23 Since the abolishing of capital punishment for murder, the death sentence had remained in force for treason and piracy with violence. The use of capital punishment in these two instances was abolished in 1998 under the Crime and Disorder Act.

24 On 27 January 1999, the UK Home Secretary (The Labour MP Jack Straw) signed the 6th protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This move formally abolished the death penalty in the UK.

25 Types of exam question Describe the important events leading up to the abolition of Capital Punishment in the United Kingdom. (5)KU

26 Questions Capital Punishment is still legal in the united states of America Describe in detail two methods of execution used in America. (4) KU Describe the important events leading up to the abolition of Capital Punishment in the United kingdom. (4)KU Capital punishment is no longer carried out in the UK. It is, however, still used in other countries. Name three countries that still use capital punishment and describe the methods used in each of the chosen countries (4) KU

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