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Imprisonment Of A Child For Fishing—Question

Volume 203: debated on Thursday 14 July 1870

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said, he would bog to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he has caused inquiry to be made as to the truth of a statement which has appeared in the public papers to the effect that a child of twelve years old has been sent to prison for taking fish out of the River Avon of the estimated value of two pence by the magistrates sitting at petty sessions in the county of Warwick?

said, in reply, that he had made inquiries on the subject and found that the facts were not exactly as they had been stated. It appeared by the certificate which had been forwarded to him, that according to the statement of the father the boy was not a child of 12 years of age, but would be 17 next September. He was fined by the magistrate in what could not be called an exorbitant sum—namely, 1s., but the costs amounted to 13s. for fishing in private water. The magistrate, in the exercise of the discretion he possessed, might no doubt have reduced the latter, more especially as the clerk was paid by salary and not by fees, and so no injustice could have been done to that officer. Although it was a discretion on the part of the magistrates, he (Mr. Bruce) regretted that so severe a sentence as 10 days' imprisonment should have been imposed for so slight an offence.