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Convict System Closes
Sunday 28th March 1886:
Convict System Closes
    The convict system in W.A. has been disbanded due to the substantial drop in crime rate in Great Britain and particularly in Ireland (where committals to trial dropped by 75 per cent in the early 1850s). It has become impossible to provide more than 300 convicts a year to WA, although they have been prepared to accept over 1,000. Most of those sentenced to the colony have served their sentences and are now free. Those remaining convicts will now be transferred into the normal prison system.
end of an era...
    It marks the end of an era for a country originally established as a penal colony. There have been around 157,000 convicts transported to the Australian colonies between 1788 and 1868. The last 279 transportees were brought on the Hougomont in 1868. WA has received 9721 convicts since 1850. NSW took 80,000 convicts from 1788-1840. A total of 67,500 convicts were shipped to Van Diemen's Land between 1841 and 1852.
    The disbandment of transportation also marks the end of the imperial grant for police, chaplains and magistrates for the convicts. This contribution has been a significant amount since it began in 1853.
    Although the British Government had originally agreed to pay no more than £6000 per year, being £1000 towards the magistracy and two-thirds of the expense of maintaining a police force, by the 1860s they were paying in excess of £15,000 per annum.
Paying too much
   Nine years ago the British Treasury informed the WA Government that the amount would drop by £1000 per year, beginning in 1877 until 1883-84 when it would drop by £2000. The payment will cease altogether next year.
   The payment was conditional on the colony of WA not being granted its own parliamentary system. In the 1877 communication regarding the continuance of payments until 1887-88, treasury officials said: 'My Lords have only to add, in regard to both these grants-in-aid for magistrates, police, and chaplains, that payment of them will depend absolutely upon the colony not being given...responsible government. If such form if government is insisted upon, all payments will cease'.
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