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Finding out more about the history of policing

Though more and more historical material is being made available on the internet most original documents are still only available in paper or microfilm form. One useful place for checking availability of archives is the National Archives site. There is a separate search engine, part of the national “Access 2 Archives” project.  A searchable Bibliography of British Police History.

Surviving archives from the local authorities in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove (including the Parish Vestries, Poor Law Commissioners, Town Commissioners, and various Police and Watch Committees) are held at East Sussex Record Office. Local municipal archives related to policing that were transferred to the Sussex Police Authority in 1968 have since been moved to East Sussex Record Office.  The East Sussex collection catalogues can be accessed online.

Likewise, local authority records for West Sussex, including those archives formerly held by Sussex Police Authority for police forces in West Sussex, are now held at West Sussex Record Office.  Their catalogues can also be searched online.

Please bear in mind that if you want to look at original documents held by Record Offices then you’ll usually need a Readers’ Ticket. Many Record Offices subscribe to the County Archive Research Network (CARN). It enables researchers to visit a number of Record Offices without having to re-register. A leaflet  can be downloaded, and some more general information about researching original archives is here.

The Brighton and Hove City Council’s Brighton History Centre includes not only local photographs and newspapers but also political pamphlets and many of the books listed in this leaflet. It is however a reference facility rather than a lending library, but much can be searched online.  Likewise both East Sussex and West Sussex county library services hold local history collections at various locations.  You can search both the West Sussex library  and East Sussex library catalogues online.

For genealogical enquiries, try this information page from the Police Memorial Trust, however the Old Police Cells Museum regrets that it cannot ordinarily conduct research on your behalf.  Most county record offices have lists of professional researchers available.

Police history societies

The Police History Society

British Transport Police History Society

Hampshire Constabulary History Society

Derbyshire Police memorabilia museum

Essex Police museum

Glasgow City Police museum

Hampshire Constabulary museum

Kent Police museum

Newport Pagnell Police Museum (Milton Keynes)

Metropolitan Police Crime Museum

Northamptonshire Police “virtual museum”

Ripon Prison & Police Museum

Royal Ulster Constabulary museum

Sheffield Fire & Police Museum

South Wales  police

Surrey Police museum

Tetbury Police Museum , Gloucestershire

Winchcobe Folk and Police Museum , Gloucestershire

West Midlands Police museum





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