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The Open University


(linked to the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research)


Director: Dr Paul Lawrence

Follow this link for contact information.

Formerly known as the European Centre for the Study of Policing (ECSP)


Congratulations are due to Alice Smalley, a History research student, who won the Arts category in the recent OU Postgraduate Poster Competition and goes forward to compete in the Midlands Hub final on 12 July. Her entry demonstrated the use of GIS to determine where crimes reported in the 19th-century illustrated Police News actually took place. Download Alice's poster (PDF, 2MB).

The ICHPCJ is hosting the Third British Crime Historians Symposium. For more information, including the provisional programme and registration forms, follow this link.


The International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice aims to promote and facilitate research into criminal justice history around the world and to generate the exchange of ideas between academics, criminal justice practitioners and serving policemen. This is achieved via seminars, conferences, publications and the provision of specialist archive facilities. The Centre has research specialisms in:

  • the history of crime, including the history of violence
  • juvenile delinquency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
  • the history of policing in Europe and in the colonies from c.1750
  • international (UK) policing, including a focus on contemporary policing
  • the history of the criminal justice system, including issues of access and representation
  • the rights of the poor; poverty and welfare; and the Rule of Law
  • the representation of crime and its punishment in cultural forms, including the media and genres of entertainment
  • the history of punishment, from public bodily punishments to prisons.

The Centre is located with the Arts Faculty of The Open University. It has strong links with the Groupe Européen de Recherche sur les Normativités (GERN) and close connections with the Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Sécurité Intérieure (IHESI) and the Arbeitsgruppe zur Polizeigeschichte. Recent visiting research staff have come from as far afield America, New Zealand, Australia and Brazil, and the permanent staff at the Centre are always keen to hear of relevant research being conducted world-wide.

Please use the links on the left-hand side of the page for more information on the Centre's membership, current research projects, and forthcoming and past events.

Facilities and Resources

The Centre holds a substantial collection of international police-related journals, newsletters and articles, but mainly it contains documentation on the British police, for instance the Metropolitan Police Force, Commissioners Reports, Policing on Scottish Burghs, etc. It also keeps copies of Metropolitan Police Orders dating from 1865 to the 1950s and Justice of the Peace dating from 1863 to 1965. The private papers of Eric St. Johnston and Robert Bartlett are also kept in the Centre, which is open to visitors interested in the topic of policing and for research purposes. Work has started on cataloguing seven of these collections; more information and a catalogue is available here.

A series of grants from the National Lottery and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have made possible the development of a new resource: History from Police Archives: Study Courses and Resource Material for Students of Social History. This website provides study courses for students of social history working towards Key Stage 3 and higher. These include 'Police in Wartime and Citizenship' and the 'Metropolitan Police'. Each of the courses is broken down into short chapters illustrated with documents selected from archives. A set of questions accompanies each study course. All of this material can be printed either for reference or to provide handouts. The website also features a large collection of resource material. The first, MHPC, is hitherto unused material from the Metropolitan Police archives including scrap books investigating complaints kept by the first two commissioners, beat books, police station ledgers and district maps. The second, Bartlett, is a study of the Surrey Constabulary from 1851 to 1992 compiled by Robert Bartlett, former Chief Superintendent Operations Surrey Police. The resource material is presented as a number of collections of images: documents from the archives have been scanned in their entirety. Save for a brief introduction on each type of document, no narrative is provided with this material alloowing the reader a similar experience to that of reading the document in an archive.

Members of the centre are currently engaged in other projects generating further online resources which in time will be made available on this site.

NOTE: The Centre has recently been grateful to receive several memoirs and collections of policing documents donated by ex-officers. We are keen to house any policing-related archival papers and anyone who has such material available should contact Dr Paul Lawrence (, in the first instance.







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