The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
Crime, law and order early Stanley, early Stanley photo, sailing ships


Crime in early Stanley

A Gaol, a small wooden building, which doubled as a hospital, was included the Government Dockyard complex which was started in 1843. Generally offences were dealt with by a sentence of hard labour which was of benefit to the new settlement and prisoners laboured to make roads, cut peat and dig ditches. Most problems originated from drink-related disturbances (eight public houses) and the floating population of sealers and whalers. Two men under the influence of drink had incited the crew of the 'Camoena' to mutiny and were sentenced to 14 days. The acting Chief Constable reported to Governor Moody that they were of 'riotous behaviour'. Another prisoner of the Detatchment, confined for a day for being drunk obtained more drink while in the jail. Two other prisoners from the Detatchment also obtained drink, refused to work, and were placed in irons.

There were also Spanish Indians imported from the River Plate, who, while occupied gainfully during the summer months hunting wild cattle, were discharged for the winter in a poor state to fend for themselves only to end up in the public houses of Stanley.

There were four murders one being committed by an English subject (manslaughter of wife 1858).
Repairs were completed to the gaol in 1889 and crime was little different. 31 persons were summarily convicted by the Police Magistrate during the year. Of these, eight were refractory seamen for offences under the Merchant Shipping Acts, one for assault, one for smuggling cigars, two for breaches of the licensing law, two for creating disturbance, two for abusive language, and 15 for drunkenness. These were all punished by fines except the refractory seamen, who were imprisoned for a short period. The gaol was only occupied for one week during the year.

Also in 1889 an Ordinance 'to make further Provision for the Protection of Women and Girls, the prevention of Outrages on Decency, and other purposes' was passed suggesting other breaches of the peace.

After the execution of Joseph Jenkins on September 17th 1900, for murdering Charlie McLeod in July 1900 there was an article in the September Falkland Islands Magazine: One lesson to be learned from the whole sad occurance is :- That conduct and language in the Islands needs much reformation; the standard of the sealers and whalers, who frequented the Colony in by-gone times, has too much influence on our day.


Sources include: Report on the Blue Book for 1889. The Falkland Islands Journal, The Falkland Islands- Ian J Strange.