Wednesday, 9 November 2011

UK Death Penalty

The Last Working Gallows in the UK
For those of you in the UK I'm going to ask you a simple question, most won't know the answer but some may think they know the answer.  

Question:  The last person to be sentenced to death and hanged was back in 1964, but what year was capital punishment abolished in the UK?

Answer:  Some of you may think it was 1969, which is correct as far as murder is concerned but surprisingly it wasn't until the 9th November 1998 that capital punishment was abolished for all crimes.

Following the abolition of the death penalty for murder, the House of Commons held a vote every year until 1997 to decide whether to restore the death penalty. The restoration vote was won, but the death penalty still remained for other crimes as follows:
  1. Causing a fire or explosion in a naval dockyard, ship, magazine or warehouse (until 1971);
  2. Espionage (until 1981);
  3. Piracy with violence (until 1998);
  4. Treason (until 1998); and
  5. Certain military offences under the jurisdiction of the armed forces. Until 1998 the death penalty was still enforceable for the following six offences:
    • serious misconduct in action;
    • assisting the enemy;
    • obstructing operations;
    • giving false air signals;
    • mutiny or incitement to mutiny; and
    • failure to suppress a mutiny with intent to assist the enemy.
No executions were carried out in the United Kingdom for any of the above offences after the abolition of the death penalty for murder but there still remained a working gallows at Wandsworth prison until 1994.  The gallows were tested every six months until 1992. This gallows is now housed in the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.

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