Fluctuations in crime levels during the war have yet to be investigated in any detail. On the one hand the removal of thousands of young men into the forces presumably also had the effect of reducing the criminal population. On the other hand crimes linked to the presence of large army camps such as prostitution and brothel keeping saw an increase and the Defence of the Realm Act and other wartime legislation created many new offences, such as displaying lights on houses and vehicles, absentee soldiers and evasion of the Military Service Act, possession of literature likely to prejudice recruitment and discipline, offences against food and fuel control orders and selling intoxicating liquor during prohibited hours. The registers of magistrates’ courts are full of information about the fight against crime, disorder and subversion.
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