How to look for records of… Crime and punishment
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to help you with your research into records of crime and punishment. The National Archives holds extensive records relating to criminal courts and trials, but searching for specific documents or subjects can be difficult as these are not usually searchable in Discovery, our catalogue. This guide is for people interested in the historical subject of crime and punishment as opposed to those interested in finding a specific person.
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
The Assizes were held twice each year from the 13th century to 1971 (sometimes more often from the 19th century onwards) in each county, grouped into a number of circuits. In 1971 they were abolished (in 1956 for Liverpool and Manchester) and replaced by the Crown Courts.
Crown Courts hear serious indictable offences such as robbery, rape and murder. They also hear referrals for sentencing and appeals from lower courts.
Only the records of the Metropolitan Police, the Royal Irish Constabulary and a few relating to the Transport Police are held at The National Archives. Surviving records of other police forces are held either by local archives or the relevant force. Not all police staff records have survived.