1917 Police Court: Landlords neglect to register their guests

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At the Scarborough Police Court, seven lodging-house keepers were summoned for having failed to require visitors to fill in registration forms.

The defendants were: Emily Beal, 50, Raleigh Street; Robert Coates Harrison, 4, Princess Terrace; Miriam Pearson, 25, Prince of Wales Terrace; Hetty Mason, 19, Esplanade Gardens; and Amelia Rachel Livingstone, 16, Esplanade.

The Chief Constable, in regard to the offences, said he did not submit for a moment that the defendants had committed the offences wilfully, or with any attempt to evade the law. They had been committed somewhat carelessly.

The visitors had arrived at the houses for the Whit weekend. He did not know whether it was excitement caused in the minds of the lodging-house keepers at having visitors in these days, that made them forget to ask visitors to fill in the forms - he did not know what it was, but defendants had neglected to get them registered.

Whilst not submitting that there was any great carelessness about any of the offences, he did seriously submit that the regulations must be complied with.

He wanted lodging-house keepers to be careful to get visitors to fill up forms when they arrived, so that, as far as possible, by the forms, they knew who the people were.

He had requested lodging-house keepers, when they were in any doubt about visitors, to communicate with the police. It was difficult when visitors had gone to make any enquiries, which might be necessary, about the country.

In all these cases the visitors were known to the lodging-house keepers as previous visitors. There was no suggestion of suspicion. Lodging-house keepers seemed, generally, to think that if they got the people to register at any time before they left it would be sufficient, but that was not so, visitors had to register immediately upon arrival.

Mrs Beal said the visitors were really friends, and she had not thought of registering them. She had forms in the house. Rooms had been lit up on the Sunday, and the inspector had called.

In Harrison’s case there were four visitors and only two had registered. Defendant told the bench that the forms had been put out, but the people had gone out without signing them. They were out nearly all the next day. One party had had to go out to “meat” on the Monday, and there had seemed so little time.

Wilkinson urged that the same people had been registered last October, and he though that it was not necessary to register them each time.

The Chief pointed out that it was necessary; according to the last form the people had left the town.

The defendant Pearson had been fined 5s for a similar offence on July 12th, 1916.

Defendant: Yes, but that was an alien - not this case.

Mrs Inskip, an octogenarian, was represented by a relative.

The Chief Inspector said that if lodging-house keepers requested visitors to fill up the forms, and the visitors did not carry out that request, the responsibility was placed on the visitors, and the latter could be proceeded against. The lodging-house keepers, however must make a definite request to the visitors.

The Mayor, after the magistrates had retired, said that the bench found the cases proved. They must all realise the importance of those regulations in the defence of the realm, and they should see that they were carried out. Visitors must be registered directly they arrived.

The Bench were anxious to deal as leniently as possible with the cases.

Mrs Pearson, who had been previously before the Court, would be fined 5s, and the other defendants 2s, 6d each, but it must be borne in mind that if more persons went before the court they would be more severely dealt with.