• Nipping Crime in the Bud by Muriel Whitten - book cover

Nipping Crime in the Bud

How the Philanthropic Quest Was Put Into Law

by Muriel Whitten, Foreword by Rob Allen


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At a time when problems of crime and antisocial behaviour stimulate debate on big society solu­tions, this book provides an exceptional means of tracing a line of response which began at the end of the 18th century. Nipping Crime in the Bud explores the origins and development of the Philanthropic Society (and its influence on contemporary institutions) amid growing alarm about crime levels, Draconian sentences under England’s Bloody Code and a paucity of effective crime prevention measures. Driven by Enlightenment zeal and ideals, this was the first voluntary sector charity devoted to ‘nipping crime in the bud’. It did so through education, training, accom­modation, mentoring and support for young people.

Uniquely, the book traces the first hard won policy networks and partnerships between government and the voluntary sector. It reveals how—sometimes against the odds, with funding on a knife edge but constantly striving for effective answers—influential philan­thropists rose to the challenge and changed approaches to young people involved in crime and delinquency, traces of which endure today within the great crime prevention charities which still rally to this cause. Muriel Whitten’s book draws on previously neglected archival sources and other first-hand research to create a formidable and illuminating account about what, for many people, will be a missing chapter in English social and legal history.


‘Nipping Crime in the Bud is a fascinating read. It combines history, criminology, politics, the law and philosophy and yet tells an absorbing tale that one could find in any of the main stream non-academic book charts’: Euro Vista

‘Describes in colourful detail the background to the founding of the Society and how its founders and their successors worked. It explains how their plans were put into practice, how they governed and how they acquired support. It skilfully deals with questions that are still asked today such as to what extent are children to be held responsible for wrongdoing?… Dr Whitten is admirably suited to write such a book… and her knowledge and experience are distilled in this comprehensive and well-written book’: John Hostettler, legal historian.


Dr. Muriel Whitten has been a youth and fam­ily court magistrate and a member of West Sussex Probation Committee. She has lectured widely on criminal justice matters at Gold­smith’s and Birkbeck (University of London), the University of Ulster and has presented for CENTREX (now the National Policing Improvement Agency). She has also contributed a weekly column to the Belfast News Letter.


Rob Allen is the Director of the International Institute for Prison Studies.

Additional information

Weight434 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 17 mm

Foreword author

Rob Allen


Waterside Press






Publication date




Place of origin

United Kingdom

Ebook (PDF)


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