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 National Archives holds a huge range of records available, many of which are also now digitised and available from www.findmypast.co.uk.

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).

Latest Updates on Twitter

A riot caused by a clergyman’s violence http://thepolicemagistrate.blog/2019/11/29/a-riot-caused-by-a-clergymans-violence/

To find out more about this #Victorian poisoning case, pop into our library during opening hours and *lowers voice to a whisper* ask for London Collection Pamphlets, Box 76.
#MysteriousArchives #ExploreYourArchive

Today's #ExploreYourArchive theme is #ArchivesAtSea

We have a range of records relating to Newport Docks, including these photographs of the various goods being loaded and unloaded at the Docks.

(Ref: Pictorial/Newport67-68, 70 and 74)

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Are you struggling to find information on staff or prisoners at a particular prison? Do you want to know more about the links between prisons and local communities? Check out our new guide on using the Census for prison research https://tinyurl.com/tyyrbwh ✒️📖🗝️

For #MysteriousArchives we have an intelligence file on suspected Irish Republican Brotherhood suspects compiled by the Chief Secretary’s Office, 1892-1893. It’s a mystery how they were secretly photographed in public places, perhaps using an early spy camera? @explorearchives

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29 Nov 1686: John [Jack] Ketch public executioner who made a mess of many of his grim tasks is buried #otd at St. James Clerkenwell. Despite being paid for a speedy job, he took five blows to removed the head of the Duke of Monmouth.

@ourcriminalpast @channel5_tv @socialhistsoc @ResearchEssex #crime #historians may be interested in clips taken from the early 1900s film made about Charles Peace.

Look out for ‘Victorians in Colour’ in 2020 @channel5_tv. Just finished filming my contributions at the wonderful Whirled Cinema in Brixton. #twitterstorians @socialhistsoc @ResearchEssex

While we’re on the topic of Oliver Twist - Why don’t you take a look at Liverpool’s own workhouse, which stood on Brownlow Hill from 1834-1928.

The workhouse would be demolished in 1931, and replaced with, what is now, the Roman Catholic Church.