England is the lower territory on the Isle of Great Britain, the founder of the United Kingdom (UK), which is made up of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. More than 83% of the UK's population live in England. The capital city of the United Kingdom is London.
Spanking in England
Spanking is a stereotypically English punishment. Erotic spanking was known as "le vice Anglais" ("the English vice") in Victorian era France as that is a belief prevalent across the world. Today, the phrase An English Spanker conjures up a very uniform mental image inside the spanking scene.
The term "smacking" is commonly used in the UK when referring to the spanking of children. In modern terminology, the word "spanking" refers almost exclusively to BDSM activities and the consensual and erotic punishment of adults, as parents in the UK do not usually refer to the punishment of children as "spanking".
Corporal punishment in schools has been illegal in England (and in the rest of the UK) for some years. English laws were recently tightened in an attempt by parent groups to ban smacking outright. However, unlike their Scottish neighbours, the governments of England, Northern Ireland and Wales chose to not to ban the smacking of children completely and adopted a new set of laws known as "reasonable chastisement". Parents may smack their child on the forearms or on the upper legs, but not the bottom. They cannot cause bruises or redness as that is against the law.
It is unclear what types of penalties are imposed for the corporal punishment of children in the UK, as no cases have ever been brought against parents for punishing their children. These laws prohibiting excessive corporal punishment is totally separate from the "Child Abuse Act".
School corporal punishment
The strap and the cane were the most widely used implements in English state schools. There was no universal convention across England on the type of implement to be used, and there were disparities even between schools in the same district. Some schools permitted any teacher to administer corporal punishment in the classroom, while others allowed only the headmaster or any senior staff to punish students. In certain schools, students who have committed less serious offences may be beaten with the slipper instead of the strap or the cane.
The tawse was a Scottish invention and was seldom seen in English schools.
Caning and birching were common punishments in English schools, especially in public (a misnomer, because the term 'public' meant that these schools were not run by the government) schools, which were actually boarding schools.
Public schools typically had higher levels of academic excellence in teaching and pupils in these schools were from the upper classes of British society. This consequently resulted in higher standards of discipline in such schools, as well as more severe punishments being administered. Public schools retained the practice of corporal punishment for many years even after the government outlawed it in state schools.
The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter universe is an example of an idealised public school as it appears in national conscience, although it may not be an accurate historical representation in terms of structure, but it is intended to emulate the perception of the 'golden age' of private education.
Judicial corporal punishment
The police and other law enforcement officers were known to have used corporal punishment on youths in the UK until the early 20th century. Although corporal punishment was often ordered by the courts, there were cases where the punishment of youths and minors, who were caught 'red handed' committing offences like shoplifting, were not authorised by either the judiciary or by their parents. However, the corporal punishment of youths, administered by persons in positions of authority, was so deeply ingrained into the national psyche, such that there were few complaints by parents about their children being punished by a policeman or law enforcement officer without their consent.
19th century English prisons adopted caning and birching as forms of punishment. Guards had access to a number of punitive manual punishments, such as the screw, where prisoners were made to turn a large crank handle (resembling the starter motor of a vintage car) set into a mechanical device for a set number of turns - often in the thousands - recorded on a dial and they would not be allowed to rest or given food until the exhausting punishment was completed. Prison guards in the UK are now traditionally nicknamed 'screws', a name which derives both from the device and for the guards' sadistic love of screwing the gear-wheel tighter during the punishment, which increased the resistance the prisoner had to overcome.
Judicial corporal punishment was abolished in England and in the rest of the UK in 1948, but some Commonwealth countries and former British overseas territories, such as Singapore and Malaysia, however, still retain the practice of judicial corporal punishment from their colonial days.