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Letter XLIV: Monday, March 25, 1850

In my last Letter I proved by tables, made up from the Government reports, that the number of offenders under 20 years of age taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police, since 1839, has increased from 13,587 to 16,917perannum-or, in other words, from 1 in every 53, to 1 inevery47 of the juvenile population of London; and this, notwithstanding the great exertions that have been made, and the large sums of money that have been subscribed of late years, with a view to reforming the class. Let me, however, for the sake of greater perspicuity, place the increase of the Metropolitan Juvenile Offenders side with that of the London Ragged Schools, since the frrst establishment of their Union, in 1844, so that the reader may compare the one with the other:-

This stubborn array of facts and figures admits of scepticism. The increase of the Schools is calculated from the annual reports of the Union - that of the juvenile offenders from the reports of the Government. Either we must assert that the criminal returns are "cooked," or else, admitting

their credibility, we must confess that the Ragged Schools are not as efficient as their benevolent founders and patrons believe. As a further assurance of the fact, however - for it is a subject upon which I am most anxious not to err - I have calculated the ratio of the annual increase or decrease for a series of years before and after the establishment of the Ragged School Union. Subjoined is the result:- Subjoined is the result:- TABLE SHOWING THE INCREASE OR DECREASE PER CENT. OF THE

1839-40 ............................. 3.2 ............................. - 1840-41 ............................. 24.4 ............................. - 1841-42 ............................. - ............................. 2.5 1842-43 ............................. - ····························· 3.9 1843-44 ............................. - ............................. 16.6

1844-45 ............................. 11.2 ............................. - 1845-46 ............................. 2.8 ............................. - 1846-47 ............................. .9 ............................. - 1847-48 ............................. 7.7 ............................. -

Here it will be seen that for the three years immediately preceding the establishment of the Union there was a rapid and extensive decrease in the juvenile depravity of the metropolis; whereas, during the four years that succeeded the incorporation of the schools, the number of offenders under twenty years of age increased almost as rapidly and extensively as it had previously declined. The next step was to ascertain whether this increase of juvenile offenders had prevailed generally throughout the country, or whether it had been confmed principally to the metropolis. With the view of arriving at an accurate conclusion upon this point, I estimated the average of the centesimal proportion of the criminals of different ages during ten years in London and the country; and the result is given below:- TABLE SHOWING THE AVERAGE PER CENT AGE OF THE EXCESS AND

England Metropolis. Excess. Deficiency. and Wales.