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Houses 38 mothers with 76 illegitimate children. 5. In Aberdeen, on same date, there were in the Poors House 9 mothers with 18 illegitimate children, and seven mothers with 20 children receiving out-door relief. As a general rule Poor Law Boards order the mothers and children to the Poor House, and refuse out-door relief, consequently many children
thrown public charity by begging. As costs uniformly awarded on both sides, the successful defenders would have a heavy claim against the unfortunate mothers, but which is seldom possibleto make good, though occasionally she is unpursued for payment of costs. On the other hand, in the 229 cases where the mothers were successful, the expenses awarded them would be very heavy in addition to these incurred to the agents for the defence. This in most cases renders the decree quite inoperative, and hence the children are placed as burdens on the public funds. By these statistics it will be noticed that the mothers have more than one child. The cost of a mother and one child in the Poor House is estimated at £10.
It is matter of consideration whether some form of process similar to the ancient semi plena of Scotland, with the mother's oath in supplement, might not be found a better mode of obtaining justice in this increasing class of cases. It has been suggested that a mode, not unknown in continental countries, might be still more efficacious in reaching the truth. First of all the parties should be separately interrogated by the judge in presence of the agents, but not on oath, and then if necessary confronted with each other. Such sifting of facts might in most of these delicate cases render farther evidence unnecessary, or where such is necessary would greatly limit its extent by confirming it to ascertaining which party has spoken the truth, and is in the right.
V.- FINAL REPORT ON PUBLIC PROSECUTORS.
THE liberty of the subject is the illogical proposition with
which every statesman is met by those to whom a proposed innovation may promise to prove distasteful. It is, therefore, not surprising that the same argument is with equal inconsistency urged against him who would abolish the alleged right of the private prosecutor, a right founded on principles peculiarly unconstitutional. The true character of crime is one altogether of a public nature, the offence being not so much against the individual as against the State. When, therefore, the individual has done his duty in giving information, he has at least satisfied that which is required of him by society. His further proceedings are seldom actuated by merely a laudable desire for the well being of the State, but by a thirst for vengeance, and for the punishment of the accused as his wrong-doer, rather than the bringing to justice of one who has committed a breach of the laws of his country. It is consequently requisite to be reminded, when discussing the subject of a proposed system of public prosecution, that in all cases the Queen, as the representative of the State, is the only prosecutor.
In 1855, nearly twenty years since, we find Mr. Phillimore introducing his first Bill, dealing with a scheme of public prosecution, while the public sentiment as regarded it was as careless as now. The subject had then been permitted to rest quietly since 1845, when the Criminal Law Commissioners presented their Eighth Report, which, concluding with a very strong expression of opinion in favour of the appoint. ment of a public prosecutor, attracted no small degree of attention at the time, both in the House and in the news. papers of the day.
Lord Denman, writing then in answer to a circular issued by the Commissioners, said, “our procedure for the purpose
of preliminary inquiry is open to great objection. The injured party may be helpless, ignorant, interested, corrupt. He is altogether irresponsible; yet his dealing with the criminal may effectually defeat justice. On general principles, it would evidently be desirable to appoint a public prosecutor, and I have little doubt such an officer might be invested with the necessary powers in such a manner as would be free from all reasonable objection ; while it promoted the public interest by insuring the discovery of truth."
We have now before us, thirty years after the Criminal Law Commissioners issued their Report with the above recommendation, the fifth and final Report of the Judicature Commissioners on Public Prosecutors. All the Commissioners agree in their Report (with the exception of the Lord Chief Justice Cockburn), so far as it does not refer to the redistribution of Circuits, a collateral enquiry they seem to have entertained. It is a matter of observation, in no little degree instructive, that the Lord Chief Justice's remarks are not dissimilar to those with which he, when Attorney-General, received Mr. Phillimore's Bill, 1856, and promised that, if the Bill was then withdrawn, the Government would take the matter into their immediate consideration.
In 1874, Sir Alexander Cockburn, as Lord Chief Justice, writes in his memorandum to the Report of the Judicature Commissioners :-"I have a high opinion of the police in general, but my experience satisfies me that their zeal sometimes leads them too far, and that the getting up of prosecutions should not be left to them after the first stage of the proceedings-certainly not without proper control.” In another place he goes on to say :-"At present where a crime has been committed, the detection of the offender is for the most part left to the police, who generally take the matter into their own hands. The result is by no means always satisfactory. Sometimes, led on by an indiscreet zeal, they arrest or cause to be kept in imprisonment, persons against whom there is no proof, and who are afterwards discharged, or against whom on their being brought to trial the proof breaks down. On the other hand, it sometimes happens—more especially in rural districts——that the police, from want of skill or intelligence, prove inefficient in tracing and apprehending persons who have committed crime. To make the system of public prosecutions complete, every case should at the earliest moment be brought to the knowledge, and be subject to the direction and control, of the public officer of the district, and it should be competent to him to intervene at any stage, though in the great majority of instances he might deem it unnecessary to do so earlier than for the purposes of the trial.”
That the present system of detection is inadequate, owing to the want of intelligent men able to sift the value and weight of evidence, so as to direct the police as to the trustworthy clue, and reliable track, was roughly demononstrated in the case of Dr. Hessel, in the spring of last year. It cannot be doubted that were such an officer as a public prosecutor present at inquests to examine witnesses, with a view of directing the efforts of the police, much fruitless search might be avoided, and a zealous body of public servants, such as our Metropolitan Police, be saved from the stigma which frequent failures of detection cannot fail to bring upon it. It may, perhaps, not be altogether forgotten that the learned stipendiary magistrate of Wolverhampton, Mr. Davis, was, after the scandal caused by Dr. Hessel's case, appointed as legal adviser to the metropolitan police, at Scotland Yard, an appointment previously advocated in the columns of this magazine. The present holder, however, has been hitherto conspicuous by his absence from any interference in the police prosecutions, a modest reticence we neither anticipated nor appreciate. We are somewhat ignorant of what his duties can consist, equally uninformed are we of what he has done, is doing, or is about to do. We do not forget that Scotland Yard took to itself considerable kvôos at the time, for the experiment, and the public were led to understand that such powers would be entrusted to the legal adviser as to obviate
the necessity of a public prosecutor for the metropolitan district, where alone, it was said. such an institution was either desirable or practicable. We have, therefore, watched with some anxiety for an indication of less misdirected zeal on behalf of that body. The public knows too well how our hopes have been answered. Had the powers of a public prosecutor, such as ought to form an essential part of those of the legal advisers, the right to investigate the merits of a case and the value of the testimony before its being brought before the magistrate, been entrusted to him, the administration of public justice and the character of the metropolitan police force would not have been blemished by so painful an investigation as that terminating in the conviction for perjury of police-serjeant Brennan. Blinded, as no doubt many a constable is, by the preconceived idea that the accused mnst be the offender, and by the conception inseparable from the cloth, that their duty is to convict, it is more than possible that, had he been guided at the outset by an intelligent mind capable of valuing the testimony in support of his theory, and free from the bias which a man obtains by intercourse with the witnesses, Brennan would never have had the opportunity or the inclination to commit such a crime. The heinousness of the crime of perjury, especially when the offence is aggravated by the fact that it is committed by a person on whose word the public and the magistrates are bound to place reliance, can find no excuse or palliation. At the same time we have little sympathy with an abused military discipline which proves generative, and fruitful of such opportunities. It cannot be too well known that the discipline of Scotland Yard does not admit of a mistake. If, on the one hand, a constable, from a knowledge of the magistrate's peculiarity, so frames his answer as to give it a colouring to fall in with the magistrate's mind, or, on the other hand, from want of experience, is confused by the magistrate's vehement cross-examination, he dare not retract. If he has mistaken the meaning of a question, he must not recall his words. If his conclusion of the prisoner's guilt has