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

Emily & Mabel Seed, arrested for shoplifting in Scarborough in 1920, feature in a criminal record book in @RiponMuseums collections. I've pieced together as much of their story as I can: https://riponmuseums.co.uk/blog/stories_from_the_archives_emily_and_mabel_seed #SpotlightOnCollections #MuseumFromHome

We're pleased to say that the run of #PrisonersOnPrisoners has now been extended to December to give everyone a chance to see it #YorkshireTogether https://twitter.com/fayeclaridge/status/1244934801079099393

Calling for proposals on a brand-new series: "Emerald Advances in Historical Criminology" Series editors: @dchurchill01 and @profviolence For more information: https://bit.ly/2wxujIc #historicalcriminiology #HCNet

For our first #TranscriptionTuesday Weekly Challenge, we're teaming up with @AncestryUK to transcribe early 19th century prison records. Click here to find out more and sign up to put records online on 31 March!

http://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/blog/transcription-tuesday-weekly-challenge-ancestry-prison-records

Her archive is described here http://www.ellenterryarchive.essex.ac.uk This is the AHRC Ellen Terry and Edith Craig database with follow-on AHRC Searching for Theatrical Ancestors @ahrcpress @FederationFHS @britishlibrary https://twitter.com/SmallhytheNT/status/1243584832061542402

By no means the first time in history - here's #policeorders for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, which saw retired officers drafted into temporary O and Z Divisions. #DYK #DidYouKnow #MuseumFromHome #ExploreYourArchive #FridayThoughts #FridayFeeling https://twitter.com/BBCLondonNews/status/1243444819843780608

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We would also like to encourage any local businesses and organisations, to document and keep copies of their response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and consider depositing the material with us for future generations. #CoronaLockdown Please get in touch!

Convict prison lives in Victorian London - Our Criminal Ancestors https://ourcriminalancestors.org/2018/04/convict-prison-lives-in-victorian-london/

Petitioning for mercy in mid-nineteenth century Yorkshire - Our Criminal Ancestors https://ourcriminalancestors.org/2019/05/petitioning-for-mercy-in-mid-nineteenth-century-yorkshire/