The Romans passed many laws to try and cover every aspect of people’s lives. For example… If you deliberately burned down a building you were either bound, whipped, or burnt at the stake, but if it was an accident you had to repair the damage. Another law was that householders had to keep their door fronts clean otherwise they would be prosecuted by the City officials. You had to sell goods at a suitable weight and if you took someone to the Magistrates Court they would have to go and the only way they could refuse was if the person summoning them was of a lower standard to them.
The Romans mainly tried to stop crime by using harsh punishments as a deterrent. For example if you were in the legionaries and one man ran away in battle faced decimation (One in every ten legions were chosen randomly and executed). Another harsh and gruesome punishment was that if you had committed a very serious crime such as murder then you were sentenced to death to fight in the coliseum as Gladiators. Different types of harsh punishments include Crucifixion, being thrown off a cliff in a barrel of snakes and being burnt at the stake. Not all Romans were treated fairly for example if you were a nobleman and you were sentenced to death you could go into exile whereas you wouldn’t be allowed if you were a normal person. This shows that the Romans had a very complex system of laws and punishments and would have been quite hard to follow if it wasn’t written down and then simplified by Emperor Justinian in around 449 BC.
The Romans did not have a Police Force to investigate and solve crimes. Rome had a very complex system of laws and punishments but they did not have a police force but they did have Officials to patrol the streets and prevent crime.
The first types of officials were the Aediles: Who were City Officials and patrolled the streets and prevented crimes.
The second types of Officials were the Praetorian Guard: They were the Emperor’s House Guards and were only used in real emergencies.
The Third types of officials were the Urban Cohorts: Their main job was to keep order and to stop riots.
The fourth types of Officials were Called Vigiles: They were fire- fighters who helped patrol the city.
If you were a victim of Crime you either had to chase the criminal away or if you knew who had committed the crime you could take them to court. This was difficult for the victim because they had to look for evidence themselves and had to arrange for the court and lawyer etc.
The Main Causes of Crime in the Roman Empire were
Rome was a very crowded city this made pick-pocketing, fights, murders and other theft very easy. One major reason of why crime started and carried on through the years was because of the Government. The Government did not see that it was their problem to deal with minor crimes so these minor crimes carried on. Another cause of Crime was that there was an extreme amount of poor people in Rome so the only way they could survive was to steal of murder and there were extreme food shortages. We cannot tell exactly how much crime there was because there was no police force or prison to record the crimes and the sources that we have could be Bias for example…
Juvenal was a poet and an author in ancient Rome wrote about all the crime in Rome but we cannot trust him completely because he was against the Government and he was old and frail, causing him to get scared very easily and exaggerate his experiences and there are no facts to support Juvenal, Although, Juvenal was old enough to notice everything going on around him and Juvenal had lived his whole life in Rome so he had very good view on crime.
Overall I think that the main reason that the Romans did not conquer crime was the Government. The Government were too conscious about money and the consequences that they did not even try to conquer major crimes, but they did try and conquer minor crimes by building courts and introducing harsh punishments. The Senate were the Emperor’s advisers and one member said that “All it takes is one bad harvest to cause a catastrophe of crime” This shows that the senate was scared that either a riot would break out or there would be revolt just like the one that Spartacus had lead against the Roman Empire.
Some aspects of Roman Justice were useful such as the Magistrates courts and that you were innocent until proven guilty. On the other hand some aspects were not effective such as chasing down your offender by yourself and not having a police force because that means that Rome would one day corrupt with crime and no one will be able to stop it.
Roman Crime and Punishment is similar to Britain’s in very few ways for example in Rome they Take minor crimes very seriously and can be taken to court, Britain is the same. In Britain the Laws are written down and they are in Rome.
Roman Punishments are very different to Britain’s Punishments because Britain’s punishments are not as harsh and are thought over carefully.