Since ancient times, people have made rules, or laws. When someone breaks a law they commit a crime and they can expect to be punished. Through the ages, different punishments have been devised, some of which are very gruesome and cruel.

Today, a person who is accused of a crime is able to defend themselves in court, as part of the justice system.

Teach your children about crime and punishment using our handy topic guide!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas



Crime and Punishment Facts

  • The Tower of London was used as a prison during Tudor and Stuart times; some of its most famous prisoners include Queen Elizabeth I (during the reign of her sister Mary), Sir Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes.
  • Ancient Roman children were taught to read and write using the laws. These were divided into twelve categories and known as the twelve tables. They were also displayed in public places, such as the forum.
  • In Elizabethan England begging was illegal and beggars were beaten until they reached the boundaries of the town.
  • In 1667, King Louis XIV set up a police force in Paris, which was the largest city in the world at the time.
  • Some medieval crimes were settled by combat; the accused and the defendant would fight to the death, with the survivor being declared in the right.


Dick Turpin

Learn all about Dick Turpin, the famous highwayman.

Running time: 2:21

The Thief-Taker General

A historic trial dramatised from the Old Bailey archives, showcasing life in Georgian London. Jonathan Wild is on trial for organising robberies, then benefiting from returning the stolen goods to the victims.

Running time: 15:13

Medieval Punishments

A short animation showing some gruesome medieval punishments!

Running time: 3:04

Introduction to Crime Scenes

This video from the University of Derby is a great introduction to forensics.

Running time: 4:04


Fantastic Mr Fox

Mr Fox is so clever that every evening he creeps down into the valley and helps himself to food from three farms – and the GHASTLY farmers can’t catch him! Now the farmers have hatched a plan to shoot Mr Fox dead! But, just when they think Mr Fox can’t possibly escape, he makes a FANTASTIC plan of his own…

Gangsta Granny

Our hero Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. She’s the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma…

The London Eye Mystery

When Salim disappears from a capsule on the London Eye, the police are baffled. So it’s up to his cousins Ted and Kat to solve this mystery and find Salim.

The Ruby in the Smoke

After Sally Lockhart’s father drowns at sea, she is plunged into a terrifying mystery in the dark heart of Victorian London, at the centre of which lies a deadly blood-soaked jewel.

Crime & Punishment through the Ages

Through history there have always been people who have committed crimes and been punished. Starting with Roman Britain, all the way to the 21st century, this book explores the changing ways in which criminals have been treated.

Crime and Punishment in Britain

An exploration of crime and punishment throughout history, aimed at KS2 students.

Detective Science

Become a super science sleuth with …Detective Science. Search for evidence, gather clues, and discover how science can help solve a mystery!

Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!

Free Preview Packs

Download our FREE Preview Packs!

Join our newsletter and we will send you free samples of our popular Teaching Packs by email!