John Halewood-Dodd column

John Halewood Dodd.
John Halewood Dodd.

This year sees the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and there are to be various events held throughout the year to commemorate this significant milestone in world history.

With the assistance of Roger Frankland of Lancaster Civic Society, I would like to look at the effects of the austerity measures that war brought and highlight the comparisons with today’s society.

Recently I have seen a significant increase in the number of people who have mitigated their crimes by highlighting their financial plight and suggesting they felt compelled to commit offences to supplement their income.

The reasons behind why they find themselves in such dire straights are many, and perhaps too complex to explore in any great detail in this column, but I have been shocked by the number of people, especially young women, in Lancaster and Morecambe, of previous good character, who have become involved in shoplifting and even prostitution.

In September 1914 this very paper reported the sad story of two young women convicted of keeping a brothel on James Street (now Marketgate car park), where they had ‘entertained’ soldiers stationed at the Wagon Works barracks (now Standfast).

Hannah Morland 24, and Annie Hall 26, pleaded guilty and both were sentenced to terms of hard labour in Lancaster Castle. Mayor Briggs, who had presided over the case, said that it had been been a demoralising and shocking state of affairs but the authorities were determined to “stop this sort of thing going on in Lancaster”.

How demoralised and shocked would the honourable Mayor have been if he’d been transported 100 years into the future to find that the very type of offences he was determined to eradicate are still taking place?