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

This is a glorious thread fro Swansea Workhouse Punishment Book but this one had to be my favourite @Prison_Voices @TheirWrite @upsetvictorians https://t.co/sWOI3zUwnH

'I'd get a room at three bob a week and then enjoy meself — go to the theay-ter and that.'
Two poor lads overheard in 1895 in #Shoreditch discussing what they'd do if they earned £400 a year (a very good wage).

Explore Australian prisons through time #maps #crime #history #DH https://t.co/3TcNXfsZVf

More photos from @ourcriminalpast's excellent talk on the institutional & cultural history of borstal at @LeedsTownHall @Centrcultureart

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Illustration from A Report on Sanitary Conditions in #Preston by Rev. John Clay 1842. Your old friend @Traceyhughes200

My colleague Heather Shore @ourcriminalpast talking about the creation of the borstal system @Centrcultureart @becketthistory #CulturalConversation

Love these remarkable cartoons of Preston Lockout 1853 though of course rights of English workers pitted against Irish 'knobsticks' like this poor shoeless lass. From Preston Digital Archive on Flickr https://t.co/YcZ6MMlCA5

@cccjhull Professor Helen Johnston shares her experiences in developing @ourcriminalpast funded by @ahrcpress at @UniOfHull Digital Humanities workshop

Want to know more about the new @BritSocCrim Historical Criminology Network? The 'About' page on #HCNet should help: https://t.co/epqfuP3vwR
Want to know more about Historical Criminology generally? Network Chair @dchurchill01 says "it's about time...": https://t.co/SXXKJ2K82F

Check out Our Criminal Ancestors, a UK-based project that supports those exploring the criminal past of their families @ourcriminalpast #crimehist https://t.co/8p9886nxy9