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

Over on our Research Exchange blog, @janetlweston has been reflecting on the limits of thinking about HIV/AIDs as a matter of human rights in the 1990s, and the place of this within the dynamic history of prisons.

https://t.co/Oe0qHWm1dy

I’m (Heather) off to the @BritishAcademy_ to talk to @thehistoryguy and 300 young people from schools and colleges about Victorian youth/street crime.

We are delighted to confirm that @lizzieevens won the SHS Poster Prize at #SHS2019. You can find a copy of the winning poster in our official announcement #twitterstorians #phdchat

https://t.co/AP0A2Ar8XQ

In 1909 @leicspolice Boro PC John Mason was presented with a silver tipped walking cane by Leicester Boro Police Band. In 1960 his family loaned the cane to Leicester City Police as part of an exhibition, and was never seen again.

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Just in case you missed it earlier we have launched our 1893 Special Edition #Saltaire map today. Prices start at just Β£10. Further details can be found at our website: https://t.co/Z8axm687wX Please ReTweet πŸ˜ƒ
#localhistory #familyhistory #genealogy #ancestry #maps #Yorkshire

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A little obsessed with prison plans at the moment...here’s a sketch by George Dance of the new Newgate (c.1770s) held at @LdnMetArchives that I wish I could use in my thesis but probably won’t as I need the more detailed, final version (sob)

Late to the party but, in Ep.2 #GentlemanJackHBO Ann Lister asks a magistrate 'is it not the constable's job to gather evidence?' It wasn't actually in 1832. They undoubtedly did, but no legal requirement. Otherwise v. good. #pedant #pettyconstables

Help transcribe prison record of Mary Portus, occupation listed as home duties #crime #history #FamilyHistory https://t.co/R0vuIYWOhK