Getting Started

Royal Courts of Justice in London

Where to find criminal justice system records

The main historic records of the criminal justice system can be found in the National Archives and local record offices. Learn more about these records.

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The convict licensing system

Following the implementation of the 1853 Penal Servitude Act, a new licensing system for convicts was introduced in Britain, where well-behaved prisoners could be released early. Many of our criminal ancestors would have been part of this new system.

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Court gavel

Assizes

The Assizes was a regional court circuit held twice-yearly, often dealing with more serious offences such as murder, rape and highway robbery.

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Port Arthur penitentiary, Tasmania

Source guide for tracing your transported convict ancestor(s)

Find out how to trace your transported criminal ancestors with our detailed source guide.

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cover of the Hull and East Riding source guide

Source Guide for Hull and East Riding

Download our Hull and East Riding source guide to researching your criminal past.

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old photo of a police force

Tracing your police ancestors

Find out more about the sources available for tracing your police ancestors.

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inside a reformatory school

Industrial and Reformatory School Registers

Industrial and Reformatory Schools registers contain a great deal of information about the criminal and destitute children who were sent to these institutions from the mid-nineteenth century until 1933.

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Hull Quarter Sessions gates

Quarter Sessions

Find out more about the Quarter sessions, which were local courts usually held four times a year in the seat of the county or county borough.

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Holloway prison

HMP Holloway: History and Sources

A history of Holloway prison, which was originally built as the New City of London Prison in 1852 and later re-designated to became the first female-only local prison in England.

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Latest Updates on Twitter

We have 100+ images of lock-ups in our database. More than illustrations, these are critical primary sources which reveal much about the history of these buildings. Find out more in our latest feature comparing images from the past & present 👇#twitterstorians #historyteacher https://twitter.com/prisonhistoryuk/status/1192469272246833153

Anyone here not read the latest @PSJ_UK yet?? You really should, it's a goodie - prisons in historical context.

Read all about it: https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/publications/psj/prison-service-journal-246

#prisons #twitterstorians #history #criminaljustice

Absolutely riveting details given by @Elaineffarrell and @Leannemcck from their @ahrcpress project @BadBridget. Nuance, compassion, transnational ties, fathers pleading for their daughters and more. What an incredible research project

Actually this from 1947 is also pretty familiar then reflecting fears of ‘open’ prisons @YvonneJewkes @carceralgeog @drjamiebennett @crewebencrewe @drdommoran @tcguiney

On next page of scrapbook ‘prison staff complain of attacks’ and another story ‘hose turned on 100 boys: disturbance in approved school’ 1945 @YvonneJewkes @carceralgeog @drjamiebennett @crewebencrewe @drdommoran @tcguiney

Today I’m reading newspapers strikingly familiar tone ... ‘Blow up the Old Gaols’ Home Sec Morrison plans ‘revolution in the penal system, scrapping all the old prisons & the old methods’ Year? 1944 @YvonneJewkes @carceralgeog @drjamiebennett @crewebencrewe @drdommoran @tcguiney

This lovely picture shows a charwoman in 1855. A charwoman was a part-time cleaner, different to a maid in that they did not live in the house. Were any of your ancestors domestic servants?
Ref DE/Bi/4/54 #archives #servant #photography

Prison Service Journal: 246 ⁦@PSJ_UK⁩ great to see this new collection of historical perspectives on prison from ⁦@RhiannonPickin⁩ ⁦@allan_brodie54⁩ ⁦@tcguiney⁩ edited by ⁦@interwarcrime⁩ and Alana Barton https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/publications/psj/prison-service-journal-246

NEW policy paper - Historical content matters: a response to the critical thinking skills agenda by @KatieEBarclay http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/historical-content-matters-a-response-to-the-critical-thinking-skills-agenda

Martin Waters poignant poppy displays return to @HullMinster, as we remember those who gave so much. The installation is at the Minster until the end of November.