- Project Runeberg -  A practical guide for Russian consular officers and all persons having relations with Russia /
248

(1916) Author: Alfons Heyking - Tema: Russia
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248

DESERTERS.

P. vi., Сн. xi.

§ 277.
Arrest of
deserters.

§ 278.
Crimps.

§ 279.
Merchant
Shipping
Act., 1894,
Great
Britain.

277, 278,

279.

districts in Russia to which the deserters profess to belong must be
communicated with. In Consular practice, however, this is very
rarely done, as destitute men who apply for assistance to the Consulate
are not in a position to wait until an answer is received from Russia.

If the Consular Officer is unable to establish the Russian nationality
of a deserter, or to find a captain who is willing to take the man to
Russia, he can do nothing for him as, in principle, Consular Officers
must avoid doing anything that might serve to encourage desertion
from Russian ships. For this reason they should not send such
deserters from one port to another, as the assistance of the Government
is only given with a view to enabling the men to return home. It
is not in the interests of Russian shipping to encourage vagrancy by
enabling deserters to travel from place to place, obtaining pecuniary
assistance at one Consulate after another.

In cases of desertion from Russian men-of-war or merchant vessels,
either in a port where a Consular Officer resides or in any other foreign
port, the Consul must, on the information of the commander or
captain, immediately give notice to the proper local authorities requesting
their assistance in searching for and arresting the deserter.1 The
speediest way of proceeding in such cases is to give the captain a
letter to the local Chief Constable or Police Magistrate, which can
be taken to the addressee by the captain himself or by a special
messenger. The letter should be worded as follows : "I have the honour
to request that the assistance of the police may be afforded to Mr.

.................., captain of the Russian vessel.................

lying at................, to recover and send on board his vessel

the undermentioned sailor(s) of his crew, who deserted on the

...................The expenses for recovering the man and

conveying him on board of the ship must be borne by the captain
and deducted from the man’s wages.

One of the circumstances which serve to encourage the desertion
of Russian sailors in the ports of Great Britain and her colonies, and
of the United States of North America, is the activity of a certain
class of men commonly called crimps, who instigate the sailors to
desert, conceal, lodge and board them, lend them money at usurious
interest, and procure them berths on board of other ships in
consideration of the payment of fixed sums of money as commission, which
are paid out of the advance money received by the sailors on joining
the ship. In Great Britain this obnoxious profession has given rise
to a series of repressive measures. Thus under the Merchant Shipping
Act, 1894, the promissory advance notes which the sailors used to
give to crimps as receipts for money, were restricted to the amount
of one month’s wages. A heavy fine of not exceeding £20 was imposed
upon any stranger visiting a ship without the permission of the captain.
Finally, lodgings for sailors were only allowed to holders of special
licences. However, these restrictive measures concerning crimps
could only be applied to the defence of the interests of foreign shipping
on the strength of a special Order in Council, which was obtained in
diplomatic course by States the legislation of which offers the same
guarantees against the misdoings of crimps as the existing laws in

1 Cons. Reg., Art. 34.

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