Perpetrators (pool of)

(Excuse the lack of spaces between sections – I don’t understand the latest edition of WordPress)


On the platform formerly known as Twitter, Mary Aspinall-Miles (followed by 27 people I follow) wrote:

May I ask a question about criminal justice language: When did the word “perpetrators/perp” start getting wide-scale use in the UK generally?
I understand the reply from FaithfulDefenceAdvocate:
After the pandemic when we all started watching too many US cop shows on Netflix?
But that may not be the context in which the term has been used so much.
Reply from Inspector Morose:
Has it though? I don’t hear this at work: it’s suspect / offender / nominal / defendant; and very occasionally accused / subject / target / person of interest. I think it may be more common in victim support services, maybe ?
In a court context, the defendant has not yet been convicted, and after conviction becomes the prisoner/prisoner at th
I gather it has become common to refer to “domestic abuse perpetrators”. Was this not always the case? It sounds a bit US but I suppose there are few alternatives. ‘”Domestic abuser” is a possibility.
As one commenter mentions, the term “pool of perpetrators” is used:
In the light of concerns about the Ben Butler case in June 2016, this post by Sarah Phillimore attempts to explain the law that will apply in the family courts when a child has been hurt and there are a number of adults who could have done it – the so called ‘pool of perpetrators’.
Here’s a 2022 case, Re A (Children) (Pool of Perpetrators) with more information on the term.
In Re B (Children: Uncertain Perpetrator) [2019] EWCA Civ 575, [2019] 2 FLR 211 (“Re B: 2019″), Peter Jackson LJ clarified the proper approach in respect of uncertain perpetrator cases and the concept of a pool of perpetrators.
I have traced the term “pool of perpetrators” to a case as early as 2003 and I think it is probably a term that was introduced and taken up in case law.
The Oxford English Dictionary was not likely to solve this one. But here is part of the entry:
A person who perpetrates something, esp. a crime or evil deed.
  1. 1570

    Estemed as menquellers and perpetratours of most wicked factes.

    J. Foxe, Actes & Monumentes (revised edition) vol. I. 110/2

The actor or absolute perpetrator of the crime.

W. Blackstone, Commentaries on Laws of England vol. IV. iii. 34

What is often said..of other crimes..if the perpetrator be sufficiently illustrious, it becomes a virtue.

J. H. Burton, Book-hunter (1863) 183

Harington was the Queen’s godson—clever,..naughty, a light~weight, perpetrator of puns and practical jokes.

A. L. Rowse, English Past 24

He wanted the perpetrators captured and executed.

T. Clancy, Op-center xx. 100