How five coins and prayer changed millions

Emily Andrews  |  Features
Date posted:  1 Apr 2024
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How five coins and prayer changed millions

photo: iStock

The National Probation Service for England and Wales is one of the least known and understood wheels of the criminal justice system, sadly only making it into the news when mistakes are made.

Even less is known of the wonderful origins of this core organisation. In order to learn more about the history, we have to travel back in time to 1878 and Victorian England. This was a time of great poverty, especially for those in some of the most deprived London districts.

Frederic Rainer was a Christian living in Holborn and a member of the Church of England Temperance Society (CETS). He wrote to the Society stressing he was concerned for the lack of help for those who came before the courts; he also enclosed five shillings for the Society to use to fund practical ‘rescue’ work. The CETS responded by appointing two missionaries to Southwark Court with the aim of ‘reclaiming drunkards’. The missionaries developed a system, with the magistrates’ approval, that allowed the release of offenders on the condition that they kept in touch with the missionaries and accepted guidance.

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