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!
- Read Janet and Alan Ahlberg’s classic tale of Cops and Robbersand try some of our related teaching ideas.
- Use our interview form to gather information from a witness about a crime, and our evidence form to note down important clues.
- Learn more about the crime novelist Agatha Christie using our huge collection of ideas.
- Use this scheme of work to cover the topic of rules and laws.
- Older children will enjoy investigating the source materials in this activity from the National Archives. Looking at original documents from Victorian times, children are invited to consider a seres of questions about the punishment of children.
- Design a “wanted” poster for a ficticious, or real, criminal.
- Set up a “Scene of the Crime” activity.
- Challenge your class with this comprehension quiz from the British Council.
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.
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
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
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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.
Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!