Crowd in West Street, Dunstable, early 20th century [Z1306/36/12/2]
Wednesday 12th January 1916: Four boys have been birched by order the Dunstable Borough magistrates after being found guilty of theft. Frederick and Percy Herbert, aged 12 and 9, and John Alfred and Harold Beard, aged 12, 13 and 8, were charged with stealing four electric torches, two cases and two batteries from the cycle shop of Mr. S. Priest in West Street sometime between the 2nd and the 5th of January. When he missed the torches Mr. Priest told the police. The boys were spotted with torches by Police Sergeant Tingey who questioned them. The boys admitted the theft; one said that Fred Herbert had given him a penny to take into the shop so he could buy something if Mr. Priest or his wife came in. Alfred Beard was discharged and John Beard was excused a birching as he is in a weak state of health – as he was given a bad character his father was fined five shillings. The other three boys were sentenced to the birch along with another who had been convicted of stealing a bicycle.
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer 18th January 1916