Skip to content

Toggle service links

Coronavirus: Please be aware it may take us slightly longer to respond than usual. Find out about our coronavirus response and current contact hours.

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Professor Paul Lawrence

Professor Paul Lawrence

Profile summary

Professional biography

Paul Lawrence is Asa Briggs Professor of History, Head of the History Department, and a member of the International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice,. He is currently Director of the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership and Editor of the bi-lingual journal Crime, History & Societies.


Prof. Paul Lawrence
Department of History
Faculty of Arts
The Open University
Walton Hall

Tel: + 44 (0)1908 652998
Fax: + 44 (0)1908 653750

Research interests

All aspects of criminal justice history, c.1750-present;  the historiography of nationalism; the social history of poverty and welfare; memoirs and autobiographies as historical sources.

Current research projects include a broad history of the Vagrancy Act (1824) and its manifold impacts on English society.

I am currently supervising two Ph.D. students, as below, but Ph.D. applications on any of the above topics are welcome. For informal advice, please contact me as detailed above..

Jack Taylor 'Sexual Violence against Men, c.1696-1861'

Sophie Michell 'The Dynamics of Death: Peterborough Coroner's Court, 1854-1905'

Teaching interests

I am currently seconded from my teaching duties. Recently, I prepared teaching materials on the 'History of Violence from 1500' for our new MA in History and served as production chair for A225 The British Isles and the Modern World, 1789-1914, which introduces students to the development of Britain and Ireland over the long nineteenth century, foregrounding interconnections with the wider world. 

External collaborations

The Open University is currently a member of the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. I am the current Director of the Consortium.  

I am the Editor of the  bi-lingual journal Crime, History and Societies/Crime, Histoire et Societes.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences
International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and JusticeCentreFaculty of Arts


Policing, ‘Science’ and the Curious Case of Photo-FIT (2020-09)
Lawrence, Paul
The Historical Journal, 63(4) (pp. 1007-1031)

Historical Criminology and the Explanatory Power of the Past (2019-09-01)
Lawrence, Paul
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 19(4) (pp. 493-511)

The Vagrancy Act (1824) and the Persistence of Pre-emptive Policing in England since 1750 (2017-05-01)
Lawrence, Paul
British Journal of Criminology, 57(3) (pp. 513-531)

History, Criminology and the 'Use' of the Past (2012)
Lawrence, Paul
Theoretical Criminology, 16(3) (p 313)

Road traffic offending and an inner-London magistrates’ court (1913-1963) (2008)
Donovan, Pamela and Lawrence, Paul
Crime, History and Societies, 12(2) (pp. 119-140)

The Paris police and the regulation of the poor in late-nineteenth-century Paris (2003)
Lawrence, Paul
Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, 29 (pp. 176-185)

'Degrees of foreignness' and the construction of identity in French border regions during the inter-war period (2001-03)
Lawrence, Paul; Baycroft, Timothy and Grohmann, Carolyn
Contemporary European History, 10(1) (pp. 51-71)

Naturalization, ethnicity and national identity in France between the wars (2001)
Lawrence, Paul
Immigrants and Minorities, 20(3) (pp. 1-24)

History and Crime (2008)
Lawrence, Paul; Williams, Chris and Godfrey, Barry
Key Approaches to Criminology
ISBN : 9781412920803 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London

History and Crime (2007)
Godfrey, Barry S.; Williams, Chris A. and Lawrence, Paul
Key approaches to criminology
ISBN : 978 1 4129 2079 7 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London, UK

Crime and justice 1750-1950 (2005-10)
Godfrey, Barry and Lawrence, Paul
ISBN : 1843921170 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton, Devon, UK

Nationalism: history and theory (2005)
Lawrence, Paul
ISBN : 582438012 | Publisher : Pearson Longman

The Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice (2016-05)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Knepper, Paul and Johansen, Anja eds. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice. The Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 17-37)
ISBN : 978-0199352333 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

General Introduction [to the series] (2014-02-01)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Dodsworth, Francis ed. The Making of the Modern Police, 1780-1914: volume 1 - "The 'Idea' of Policing (vii-xxiii)
ISBN : 978-1138761568 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

The British police (2014)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Bruinsma, Gerben and Weisburd, David eds. Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 203-213)
ISBN : 978-1-4614-5689-6 | Publisher : Springer-Verlag | Published : New York

Nationalism and historical writing (2013)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Breuilly, John ed. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism. Oxford Handbooks in History (pp. 713-730)
ISBN : 978-0-19-920919-4 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

« They have an admirable police at Paris, but they pay for it dear enough ». La police européenne vue d’Angleterre au XIXe siècle (2012-09)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Denys, Catherine ed. Circulations policières, 1750-1914 (pp. 103-118)
ISBN : 978-2-7574-0393-8 | Publisher : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion | Published : Lille

The Police and Vagrants in France and England during the Nineteenth Century (2011)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Antonielli, Livio ed. Polizia, ordine pubblico e crimine tra città e campagna: un confronto comparative. Stato, esercito controllo del territorio (pp. 49-60)
ISBN : 978-88-498-2924-2 | Publisher : Rubbettino | Published : Manelli

Fabian, Robert Honey (1901-1978) (2010-09-23)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Goldman, Lawrence ed. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

Cop Culture? Les Récits de Vie Oraux et Écrits Des Policiers Anglais (2010-07)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Berlière, Jean Marc and Lévy, René eds. Le témoin, le sociologue et l'historien: Quand les policiers se mettent à table (pp. 227-239)
ISBN : 978-2-84736-448-4 | Publisher : Nouveau Monde éditions | Published : Paris

Urbanization, poverty, and crime (2005-12)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Martel, Gordon ed. A Companion to Europe 1900-1945. Blackwell companions to European History (pp. 3-18)
ISBN : 1405106646 | Publisher : Blackwell | Published : Oxford, UK

Policing the poor in England and France, 1850-1900 (2004-08)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Emsley, Clive; Johnson, Eric and Spierenburg, Pieter eds. Social control in Europe Volume 2: 1800-2000 (pp. 210-225)
ISBN : 814209696 | Publisher : Ohio State University Press | Published : Ohio, USA

'Scoundrels and scallywags, and some honest men ...': Memoirs and the self-image of French and English policemen c.1870-1939 (2003-09)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Godfrey, Barry; Emsley, Clive and Dunstall, Graeme eds. Comparative Histories of Crime (pp. 125-144)
ISBN : 1843920379 | Publisher : Willan Publishing

Crime and Justice since 1750 (2nd ed) (2014-11-01)
Godfrey, Barry and Lawrence, Paul eds.
ISBN : 978-0-415-70855-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Policing the Poor (2014-02-28)
Lawrence, Paul ed.
The Making of the Modern Police
ISBN : 9781848933712 | Publisher : Pickering & Chatto | Published : London

The New Police in the Nineteenth Century (2011-03)
Lawrence, Paul ed.
The History of Police
ISBN : 978-0-7546-2945-0 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Farnham, U.K.