Getting Started

The main historic records of the criminal justice system can be found in the National Archives and local record offices. The National Archives (TNA) holds the records of the Home Office (HO), Metropolitan Police (MEPO), Assize (ASSI – although local assize records are held at regional record offices) and Prison Commission records (PCOM). Records relating to convict transportation can also be found amongst the Colonial Office (CO) and Admiralty (ADM) records. The National Archives holds a huge range of records available, many of which are also now digitised and available from

The best way to explore what is available at TNA is by using their excellent online guides. For example: Criminals and Convicts, Criminal Trials in the Assize Courts, 1559-1971 and Police. Local Record Offices also hold some criminal justice and policing records. For example, these include local and regional police and constabulary archives, records of the court (Assize, Quarter Sessions, Petty Sessions or Magistrates court), local prison archives and reformatory and industrial school archives.

Survival and access can vary from archive to archive. Many record offices have excellent online information online (for example, the West Yorkshire Archives Service and the East Riding Archives Service). Before you visit an archive make sure you read the guidance on the website. Many allow you to register and even order in advance, so it is worth doing some initial preparation before you go. Archive staff are usually happy to answer questions although you are advised to contact them in advance of your visit, especially for more complicated queries (see the Researching Here section for getting started at TNA).

HMP Holloway: History and Sources

Holloway prison was originally built as the New City of London Prison…

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Street Scene

Source Guide for Hull and East Riding: Sources for researching your criminal past

Download our Source guide for researching your criminal past: An introduction to…

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Some suggested sources for tracing your police ancestors

Dr David J. Cox, University of Wolverhampton Local archives/record offices Policing agents…

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Industrial and Reformatory School Registers

Registers kept by Industrial and Reformatory Schools contain a great deal of…

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Quarter Sessions

Quarter-sessions were local courts usually held four times a year, which generally…

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Street Scene

Where to find criminal justice system records?

The main historic records of the criminal justice system can be found…

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Latest Updates on Twitter

Whilst I am on holiday, taking a break from writing about courtroom and prison museums for my thesis, I still made sure to visit the Memorium Nuremberg Trials. A very different kind of courtroom museum compared to the ones I’m used to seeing. #darktourism


Fantastic talk today at the @WMPolice #Lockup by Kay Hunter on capital punishment after another busy open day with #AFairCop book display. One step closer to fully fledged police museum πŸ˜ƒ


4 days until Echoes of Holloway Prison Exhibition opens! Counting down our 5 Questions that are part of the Exhibition so here is πŸ‘‡πŸΎπŸ‘‡πŸΌπŸ‘‡πŸ½
Q2. "Does prison work for women?"

Fascinated with historical clothing? The get down to #StoneLibrary on 17th July to hear artist Ruth Singer talk about criminal clothing @CriminalQuilts Free to attend #DontMissOut

Read articles on historical criminology in the summer @BritSocCrim Newsletter from the brilliant @dchurchill01 @blalygamal @iainchanning and @yeomans_henry

COME AND JOIN THE HISTORY LAB COMMITTEE! Elections July 12th at 5pm. Interested? email:

This is a great opportunity for PhDs at whatever stage of research. As the academic job market becomes ever more competitive, involvement in an organisation such as History Lab represents a valuable addition to your CV.

Call for Papers for the upcoming symposium on how immersive experience of #heritage shapes our understanding of the modern world.