• Alyson Brown


This examination of the Dartmoor Convict Prison Riot of 24 January 1932 demonstrates the complexity involved in attempting to construct a diagnosis of the causes, process and impact of such a disturbance. It is true that while such major incidents are rare in English prisons, the unusual amount of evidence they generate can serve to reveal the operation of regimes normally hidden from view. This was especially so at Dartmoor which attracted public attention and notoriety but little understanding. At the same time it must be recognised that Dartmoor was an institution unusual in its remoteness and with a specific history, culture and inmate population. Yet an in-depth exploration of this prison, even at a time of unusual stress, offers to test the reformative rhetoric of the period and illustrates the varied and fragmented nature of its implementation as well as the continuing diversity of prison experience. This examination has intimated the importance of external as well as internal pressures on prisons, questioning therefore the extent to which they operated as closed institutions. Even in the case of a prison like Dartmoor, which confined offenders sentenced to longer prison terms and so didn’t have the same level of social bustle of inmate in-and-outflow experienced in say a large local prison


Prison System Inmate Population Sunday Morning Prison Staff Penal Policy 
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  1. 2.
    C.M. Craven (1932) ‘The Report of the Departmental Committee on Persistent Offenders’, Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 3 (3): 69–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 5.
    N. Jameson and E. Allison (1995) Strangeways 1990: A Serious Disturbance ( London: Larking Publications ), p. 11.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See J.E. Thomas and R. Pooley (1980) Exploding Prison: Prison Riots and the Case of Hull ( London: Junction Books).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    R. Adams (1994) Prison Riots in Britain and the USA, 2nd ed. ( Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan ), p. 165.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    H. Woolf and S. Tumin (1991) Prison Disturbances April 1990 (London: HMSO), Cm1456.1, 17 (1.148) [hereafter the Woolf Report].Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Ibid (1.149). Also see, S.L. Resodihardjo (December 2006) ‘Wielding a Double-Edged Sword: The Use of Inquiries at Times of Crisis’, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 14 (4): 202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Alyson Brown 2013

Authors and Affiliations

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

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