Catalogue description Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: Habitual Criminals Registers and Miscellaneous Papers

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Details of MEPO 6
Reference: MEPO 6
Title: Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: Habitual Criminals Registers and Miscellaneous Papers

Registers of criminals as defined by sections 5-8 of the Prevention of Crimes Act 1871, with examples of Police Gazettes, Supplements 'A' and Informations (London Area).

Each entry in the registers contains details of appearance, date of discharge from prison, the name of the prison, length of sentence and previous convictions.

PLEASE NOTE: Electronic images of selected pieces of these records can be searched online through our partner website. Pieces 1-4, 6-9, 13-23, 25-37, 39-47, 56-57, 77-83, 85-88 only have been digitised at this time (June 2015); further releases within this series to follow.

Date: 1834-1959
Related material:

The British Library holds a complete set of Police Gazettes.

For further habitual criminals registers see PCOM 2

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Metropolitan Police, Criminal Record Office, 1871-

Physical description: 92 papers and volumes
Access conditions: Subject to 75 year closure
Administrative / biographical background:

Registers of criminals were kept in rudimentary form by Bow Street Police Office and, from 1793, in the Home Office.

The Habitual Criminals Act 1869 provided for the maintenance of a single register of criminals and the photographing of all convicted persons with a view to their identification. The form of this register was modified by the Prevention of Crimes Act 1871, which provides (s.6) that a register should be kept of all persons convicted of a crime and sent to prison for one month or more. The prison governors were responsible for notifying particulars and personal descriptions to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (known as the Keeper of the Records), who delegated his authority to the officer in charge of the Criminal Record Office at New Scotland Yard. The form of the register was modified again in 1877, when it was transferred to the Prison Commission.

In 1884 responsibility for the publication and circulation of the Police Gazette was transferred from the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street to the Criminal Record Office. It was published daily and circulated to all police forces in Great Britain, and contained details of persons and articles connected with current crime. Those volumes selected as examples for preservation are annotated in manuscript with dates of arrest and previous case references.

Supplement "A" to the Police Gazette was issued fortnightly and contained names and aliases, short criminal histories, descriptions and methods of persons who were considered to be expert and travelling criminals, and was intended for the information and guidance of detectives and officers engaged in criminal records and the organisation of detective work.

Criminal Record Office Confidential Informations were circulated daily to all Metropolitan and Home Counties police stations. They contained similar information to the Police Gazettes, but were concerned only with criminals in London and surrounding areas.

In 1895 the work of the Habitual Criminals Registry was restored to the Metropolitan Police Office and committed to the Convict Supervision Office, which had been formed in 1880 as a branch of the Criminal Investigation Department and already had duties relating to the supervision of convicts who had been discharged or released on parole and of the property of prisoners. In 1905 this office was itself designated the Habitual Criminals Registry, and in 1913 it was renamed the Criminal Record Office. From 1901 it included a Fingerprint Department.

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