Files for prisoners convicted of capital offences, kept in the prison in which the sentence was being served. Contents include conduct, medical and vocational training reports, visiting orders, early release licences, and photographs taken on reception and discharge.
This series contains some surviving records relating to individual prisoners convicted between 1936 and 1948. It includes papers relating to James Earl Ray's imprisonment in Wandsworth Prison in 1968, files relating to Myra Hindley's imprisonment at HM Prisons Holloway, Cookham, Durham and Highpoint between 1966 and 2002 and files relating to Ian Brady's imprisonment at HM Prison Durham and Park Lane Hospital, now known as Ashworth Psychiatric Hospital, between 1966 and 2012.
These prisoners' records were held in the prison where the prisoner was serving sentence and were transferred from one prison establishment to another with the prisoner. They include such material as regular conduct, medical and vocational training reports, visiting orders and any licence granted for the early release of the prisoner, and thus form a comprehensive record of the individual's time in prison: they normally also include photographs of the prisoner taken on reception into prison and at the time of discharge. These particular files relate to capital offences where, in each case, a death sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.
Each piece description quotes the reference to the Prison Commission (or, from 1963, Home Office Prison Department) registered file on that particular prisoner, in PCOM 8 or PCOM 9. Those files, held centrally, contain all the headquarters material on the prisoner, including correspondence between the Commission/Department and the prison governor or his staff, four-yearly progress reports, reports on any disciplinary action taken, and any petitions submitted by the prisoner to central authority.