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Appears in Collections:History and Politics eTheses
Title: Ex-Servicemen and Crime in Interwar Scotland
Author(s): McKay, Cameron
Supervisor(s): Smyth, Jim
Jenkinson, Jacqueline
Keywords: Ex-Servicemen
First World War
Issue Date: Jun-2019
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: A great deal has been written on Scotland and the First World War, yet there has been no study on criminality amongst ex-servicemen after the war. This thesis considers both the ‘societal’ effect the war had on crime, as well as the ‘individual’ criminality of ex-servicemen. The ‘societal’ effect is gauged via an analysis of national crime statistics before, after and during the war. From a statistical point of view, many crimes, such as bigamy, murder and procurement, increased after the war and remained above pre-war levels for some time, a pattern that can be attributed to the disruptive effects of the war. The discussion of the ‘individual’ effect begins with a sample analysis of 162 interviews given by imprisoned exservicemen to the prison commissioners. These interviews illustrate that war experience had an impact on offending, with many interviewees admitting to problem drinking, and committing violent offences, especially wife assault. This last point is explored in greater depth, with reference to the return of veterans to their families. Trials involving ex-servicemen charged with domestic violence, including three cases of murder, are compared so as to find any commonalties. It is revealed that outcome of these trials was dependent on the character of the victim; common justifications being that the she had been unfaithful during the war, was intemperate, or exhibited behaviour otherwise below that expected of a wife. Emsley’s work on the ‘shell shock defence’, wherein only former officers could use mental illness as a mitigating factor for criminality, will also be tested with respect to Scotland. Of the five murder trials involving ex-servicemen who claimed to be mentally ill during this period, the one defendant found not guilty, was an ex-officer. Finally the role played by ex-servicemen in illegal land occupations after the war is discussed. Land raiding was the only example of Scottish ex-servicemen breaking the law en masse, yet in contrast to other veterans who broke the law, the land raiders received a great deal of sympathy from both the general public and politicians.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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