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

Great to welcome @DrMichaelReeve back to Hull to present a public lecture at @Hull_Museums on the role of Special Constabulary during the First World War. This is the first of a series of public lectures showcasing the excellent research by Graduate scholars at the @UniOfHull

Researching Charlotte this evening. Here she is in 1898.She spent 55 years in institutions. The last one, Ely Hospital in Cardiff, forgot her birthday and the names of her parents. None of that mattered - she was just a body to feed, sleep, wake and repeat. She died in 1953.

#BadBridget Mary McDonagh ‘Left her husband five weeks ago because he would not give her any money. Said he was stingy and would not buy her clothes.’

Lesson number 2: Don't marry a stingy man.
#ValentinesDay #wmnhist #twitterstorians #Irishdiaspora

West Yorkshire History Centre: Our Criminal Ancestors workshop for public, Tue 16 Jun 2020 at 10:30 | Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/our-criminal-ancestors-workshop-tickets-92952263723

Not 1 but 2 #historicalcriminology blogs for your delectation!

@dr_vnagy & I reflect on recent work by @dchurchill01 @yeomans_henry & Paul Lawrence

I’m not one for interactive twitter but interested to hear the thoughts of crims / crime historians... https://www.historicalcriminology.com/?m=1 https://twitter.com/dralexaneale/status/1228002835494834176

Researching Prison Governor’s conference minutes today @UkNatArchives, Oxford 1948: ‘the whole of the crisis now “the chronic situation” was caused by a shortage of staff, and a shortage of accommodation as against a surplus of prisoners’. #prisongovernors #prisonhistory

Fancy a stroll through East #London in 1889? On the Travels Through Time free podcast we’ll be walking through street markets, experiencing the stillness on the #Thames during the Dock Strike, and watching a boxing match in a #Shoreditch church.
https://www.tttpodcast.com/season-02/london-blackest-streets-sarah-wise-1889

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The architect for the new #Ripon House of Correction, was Lord Grantham of Baldersby, an amateur architect willing to plan the building for free. Grantham’s original 1815 design was rejected. @BritPoliceHist @ourcriminalpast @RiponTogether @GenealogyBeech @prisonhistoryuk