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

Professor 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

War has had transformative effects on the medical responses to disability.
In #WWI, disabled soldiers were provided with physical rehabilitation using equipment like those depicted in this 1918 painting by Sarah Horton of Q block of the Bath War Hospital.
#DisHist #histmed

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them. #RemembranceSunday #LestWeForget

Healey’s brewery, Watford, was founded in 1851 but later overtaken by Benskin at the turn of the century. This photograph shows its staff in the late 19th century – some fantastic characters! #photography #pubs #beer

On Remembrance Sunday we remember Don McLeod, the former @CelticFC, @Boro and @ScotlandNT footballer, who lost his life after succumbing to horrific wounds in October 1917.
(H. Greenmon Collection).

During the Blitz 1000s of Londoners took refuge from the bombing on Underground stations across the capital. In this blog we take a look at how the London Underground was transformed into a mass public shelter during the Second World War #LondonUnderground

(1/13) A THREAD for #RemembranceSunday2019👇In preparation for my book on the history of plastic surgery, I’m immersing myself in diaries, letters, & literature from WWI to get a sense of what it was like to live and die in the blood-soaked trenches on the Western Front.

This WW2 soldier was created as part of a collaborative project between #HMPInverness, @fifecollege & us. He is made of papier-mâché & covered in photocopies of documents from our collections. Come along to HARC to read the story of his creation. #LestWeForget #explorearchives

The Lock Up: 13-year-old Bridget from Falcarragh, raped, starved, beaten

Mauberge 12th November, 1918. News of the Armistice abounds. We will remember them. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images #Ancestry #RemembranceDay #LestWeForget

95 years ago today, #Chicago gang leader and florist Dean O'Banion takes a break from cutting down chrysanthemums in his flower shop and gets cut down himself in a "handshake" murder.