Our Criminal Past

‘Our Criminal Past’ is an interdisciplinary research network of UK-based stakeholders who are working academically and/or professionally in the field of the criminal, legal and penal history of Britain.

The creation of the network was in recognition of the growing importance of ‘our criminal past’, not only to academics but also to archivists, heritage professionals, educationalists and others in the wider community who have an investment in how our criminal past is to be preserved, presented and transmitted. Three inter-related themes have been identified as important areas of cross and multidisciplinary interest in terms of previous, current and future research that have contemporary and cultural significance beyond the academia. These are: Digitisation: Social Media and Crime History; Educating Historians of Crime: Classroom, Archive, Community; and Representing Penal Histories: Displaying and Narrating our Criminal Past.

Our series of network events brought together experts from a range of disciplines, including history, criminology, education, tourism and cultural studies, with archivists and those engaged in an educational and heritage capacity in museums and prisons. The events were a forum for discussion and debate about future strategic research planning and collaborations, the sustainability of research in relation to new technology and funding streams, and the role of individuals, communities and institutions in shaping and preserving our criminal past. Through the sharing of expertise and good practice, we explored ideas that would lead to new projects in the history of crime, thus ‘Caring for the Future’ of the history of crime.


Key Contacts

Dr Helen Johnston, University of Hull:

Professor Heather Shore, Leeds Beckett University:



Event 1: Our Criminal Past: Digitisation, Social Media and Crime History, London Metropolitan Archives, 17 May 2013

Event 2: Our Criminal Past: Educating Historians of Crime: Classroom, Archive, Community, Broadcasting Place, Leeds Beckett University, 6 September 2013

Event 3: Our Criminal Past: Representing Penal Histories: Displaying and Narrating the Criminal Past, Galleries of Justice, Nottingham, 31 January 2014

Latest Updates on Twitter

Face of Suffrage: Hilda Burkitt selfie mosaic unveiled

So exciting yesterday to see the first ever list of proposed Scotland Yard detectives for real @UkNatArchives - such a trove of police history treasure! #policehistory #detectives #PhD

The #CFP for the Social History Society conference 2019 is now open! The conference will be at the University of Lincoln from 10-12 June and we're very excited to welcome @OlivetteOtele as this year's keynote. Deadline 4th Jan 2019.

More details below:

JOB! I'm hiring a postdoctoral research associate to work on 'The Power of Petitioning in 17th-Century England'. 12-months, full-time from January 2019.

Deadline Nov 29th. Apply here:

QUB is soon to lose its only female Professor of History. They are seeking a scholar working in the "field of women’s/gender history in particular" Deadline 1 Feb 2019 @womnknowhistory @socialhistsoc @Diversehistory2 @WHNWestSWales @auswhn @WarwickFeminist

Check out "Revisiting Borstal: Youth, Crime and Penality, c. 1902-1982 " @EventbriteUK

Two weeks away from presenting a paper, 'Spectacles of Punishment: Narrative Reconstruction and the Ethics of Interpretation in British Prison Museums'. Come listen and have a chat if you are in London and have time! @IPUPYORK #publichistory #crimehistory

Check out The Twist is an animated short that brings to life some of Australia’s most intriguing true crime stories #ABCtruecrime

Please retweet this widely to save these archives @akalamusic @afuahirsch @theculturecraft @Diversehistory2 @malorieblackman @ConversationUK @stefdoebler @ESiheraESC @sickandpoor @helenrogers19c @SophiaCannon @socialhistsoc @HistoryatNmpton @UkNatArchives

@Dan_Johnson19 @YvonneJewkes @ourcriminalpast I haven’t studied it but I came across a great example of a newspaper in 1841 which these days would certainly been contemp of court. Josiah Mister and the attempted murder at Ludlow - read his initial description