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One summer night in 1851, a London police officer beat a young man to death in Plumtree Court, a predominantly Irish neighbourhood in the heart of the city. The Court was a notorious slum, attracting the attention of missionaries, sanitary inspectors, poor law officials, architectural reformers, metropolitan railway enthusiasts, and many others besides the police. After the killing, it became the centre of an attempted coverup, a Chartist-led campaign for justice, a public inquiry, and finally a trial. This paper tells the story of a forgotten episode in the early history of British policing with clear connections to the present. At the same time, it argues for the importance of specific contexts of place, poverty, and politics in understanding the significance of police homicide.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking is required.