A futile attempt to curtail alcoholism?

In June 1899 at Marylebone Police Court two ‘inebriates’ were sent before the magistrate to be admonished. Mary Ann O’Rourke (26) and Charlotte Phillips (33) ‘were proved by the Police to be inebriates and were remanded with a view to their bring removed to an Inebriates Home’.

An act passed the year before allowed the court to deal with habitual drunkenness.

The act stipulated that a habitual drinker (an ‘inebriate’) who appeared on 3 or more occasions for drunkenness: ‘shall be liable upon conviction on indictment, or if he consents to be dealt with summarily on summary conviction, to be detained for a term not exceeding three years in any certified inebriate reformatory the managers of which are willing to receive him’.

This was the third occasion in which these two had been in court and the justice (Mr. Curtis Bennet) noted that he had received confirmation that a place in a home was available to them but at a price. Who was to pay, he asked. He seemed that he (‘his Worship’) was expected to stump up the 1s a day the home demanded for taking them.

Since he had no intention of forking out his own money he declared the act a ‘dead letter’ and bound them over ‘in £10 to be of good behaviour for twelve months’. Which seems unlikely in the circumstances.

As with many such initiatives (past and present) a lack of funds rendered the ‘noble’ intention obsolete.

[from The Standard , Friday, June 02, 1899]

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