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The Elephant and Castle Gang and Criminal Careers of Dartmoor Prison Inmates

  • Alyson Brown
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Abstract

The narrative of the Dartmoor riot was written in media reports and in investigatory and legal documents emerging in the period following the disturbance. However, it was reinforced in the public consciousness through personal accounts of the ‘mutiny’ published as late as 1961. These are important because they not only offer the experiences of some of those in the prison at that time but also tend to embed more fully a perspective on the riot as being caused by a defined range of factors. Perhaps most prominent among these factors was the supposed influence of a small group of ‘motor bandits’ and ‘gangsters’ before and during the disturbance. This chapter examines the evidence relating to these prisoners and their role in the riot. These men had been convicted of serious offences, some of them had been known to one another prior to their imprisonment at Dartmoor and indeed had committed crimes together. Their activities immediately before the riot may well have contributed to the destabilisation of the prison regime, but it is questionable whether they were responsible for the outbreak in the sense that they planned and directed the disturbance from the outset. Nevertheless, the assigning of culpability for the riot to them operated to shift scrutiny from the prison regime and contemporary penal policy to the dangerousness of the inmates. This constructed a relatively simple narrative which was also accessible and attractive to the media.

Keywords

Criminal Record Criminal Career Preventive Detention Prison Staff Escape Attempt 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Alyson Brown 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyson Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Edge Hill UniversityUK

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