British Crime Historians (BCH) Symposium

31st August – 1st September 2018
Edge Hill University

In 2018 it will be a decade since the first British Crime Historians Symposium was held. This biennial conference meets every two years as a forum for discussion, debate and the presentation of research for all aspects of the history of crime, law, justice, punishment and social regulation. It has become one of the most significant regular events in these research fields.

Previous events (organised by the British Crime Historians Network) have been held at Leeds, Sheffield, Milton Keynes (OU), Liverpool and Edinburgh. This year the event is supported by ICE and will take place at Edge Hill University’s Ormskirk Campus.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers are:

Professor Eamonn Carrabine (University of Essex)
‘Reading Pictures: Art History and the Sociology of Punishment’

Professor Ian Burney (University of Manchester)
‘Spatters and Lies: Forensic Cultures in the Sheppard Murder Trials, 1954-1966’

For further information please contact Professor Alyson Brown or Dr Alana Barton

Dates: 31st August – 1st September 2018

The Symposium Programme is available to download. (schedule is subject to change)

Venue: Edge Hill University (Directions)


£40 PGR/unwaged rate conference fee
£65 PGR/unwaged rate onference fee plus one night’s accommodation on campus
£90 PGR/unwaged rate conference fee plus two night’s accommodation on campus
£100 Academic rate conference fee
£140 Academic rate conference fee plus one night’s accommodation on campus
£180 Academic rate conference fee plus two night’s accommodation on campus

Registration: please click here to register

Plenary Speakers

Ian Burney (University of Manchester)

Spatters and Lies: Forensic Cultures in the Sheppard Murder Trials, 1954 – 1966

Eamonn Carrabine (Essex University)

Reading Pictures: Art History and the Sociology of Punishment


9.30 – 10.50

A1       Disability and the criminal justice system

‘Invalids’, ‘cripples’ and ‘malingerers’: Disability and the modern prison, 1850 – 1930
Helen Johnston (University of Hull) and Jo Turner (Staffordshire University)

 “My objection is that there is no way in which you can possible communicate with a deaf and dumb man”: Experiences of the deaf community within the English courtroom, 1780 – 1920
Christopher Stone and David Cox (University of Wolverhampton)

Prisoner or patient? Diagnosing insanity in the Nineteenth Century prison
Catherine Cox (University College Dublin) and Hilary Marland (University of Warwick)

A2       Debates around clemency and reprieve

 Racialised mercy: Reprieving black and minority ethnic prisoners in Twentieth Century England and Wales
Lizzie Seal and Alexa Neale (University of Sussex)

Convicts’ pleas for clemency: A comparative study of penal systems in Indiana (USA) and England, 1870 – 1910
Bryan Byers (Ball State University, Indiana, USA) and Guy Woolnough (Keele University)

“It is the child who suffers”: Debates over births in English women’s prisons, 1900 – 1950
Rachel Bennett (University of Warwick)

A3       Detectives and spies

Licensing criminals: London detectives and their informants, 1919 – 1968
Mark Roodhouse (University of York)

Duping the detectives: How the popularity of private detective agencies in 1890s Britain led to the National Detective Agency fraud
Nell Derby (Oxford Brookes University)

Police spies and the radical war in Glasgow
Dave Smale (independent researcher)

11.20 – 1.00

B1       Theorising crime and criminal justice

“Governing through freedom”: A framework for understanding Victorian crime control?
David Churchill (University of Leeds)

The ‘great decarceration’ and its limits: Towards a new historical account of decarceration trends in the adult and juvenile secure estates
Pamela Cox (University of Essex) and Barry Godfrey (University of Liverpool)

 Historical context and the criminological imagination: Towards a three dimensional criminology
Henry Yeomans (University of Leeds)

Crime, character and civilisation: Reading Luke Owen Pike’s ‘History of Crime in England’ (1873)
Lindsay Farmer (University of Glasgow)


B2       Crime: Interwar and beyond

Policing working class pleasure in Britain in the inter-war years
Gerry Rubin and Colin Moore (University of Kent)

The impact of the Great Depression on the property crime rate in London and Istanbul
Recep Kurt (Marmara University, Turkey)

Crime and criminality during the inter-war period: a local perspective
Ashley Borrett (University of Hull)

Probation and attempted suicide in Britain, 1907 – 1961
Louise Settle (University of Tampere, Finland)


B3       Changing perspectives of crime and punishment institutions

Beyond the control of his parents: Juvenile crime and reform in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1856 – 1914
Lucie Wade (Leeds Beckett University)

“We’re very lucky that we live in this day and age”: Perceptions of historical and contemporary penal institutions in British prison museums
Rhiannon Pickin (Leeds Beckett University)

More than a murderess: comparing representations of female convicts in prison museums to their historical records
Dan Johnson (University of York)

The private life of CID paperwork: the transition of murder files from institutional to public records
Angela Sutton-Vane (The Open University)

2.00 – 3.40

C1       Policing: Professionalism and representations

Leading the British Police in the Twentieth Century
Clive Emsley (The Open University)

“Getting close”: The police beat and reporting crime in Australia
Fay Anderson (Monash University, Australia)

Policing sexual immorality in the First World War
Mary Fraser (Social historian of the police)

Policemen and their moustaches: Fashioning professional identity in Nineteenth Century Newcastle upon Tyne
Clare Sandford-Couch (Northumbria University)


C2       Understanding murder

Gender, emotion and murder before the Old Bailey in the Nineteenth Century
Meg Arnot (University of Roehampton)

“This distressing tragedy”: Maternal child-murder, attempted suicide, self-murder and madness in Victorian England
Alison Pedley (University of Roehampton)

Women’s experiences of homicide in Wales 1542 – 1590
Elizabeth Howard (Cardiff University)

Making ‘murder’ in early Eighteenth Century London: The Searchers, the Bills and violent death
Craig Spence (Bishop Grosseteste University)


C3       Dealing with ‘new’ criminal forms

 Communication technology, crime and regulation: A historical perspective
Kisby Dickinson (University of Leeds)

Crime, innovation and the technology of money
Elliott Keech (University of York)

The prosecution of naval fraud in the Eighteenth Century
Cerian Griffiths (Lancaster University)

The creation of peril: Public perceptions of railway sexual assaults, 1830 – 1914
Roger Baxter (University of Sheffield)


9.00 – 10.20

D1       The personal lens

 The captive set free: John Clay, Charles Dickens and the Prisoner at Preston Gaol
Tracey Hughes (Liverpool John Moores University)

“To each case, great and small, he devoted all his care, his knowledge and his intelligence”: A developing study of the life and work of John Theodore Hoyle, the Coroner of the town and borough of Newcastle upon Tyne (1857-1885)
Helen Rutherford (Northumbria University)

Right time, wrong place: The transition of Benjamin O. Davis Jr from US Air Force General to Civilian Public Safety Director
George Richards (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

D2       Prisons and prisoners in Ireland

 Doing time: Dark tourism in Ireland
Gillian O’Brien (Liverpool John Moores University)

“I met some terrible rascals and criminals”: Irish ‘political prisoners’ and the representation of ‘ordinary’ convicts
Will Murphy (Dublin City University)

“Embarrassing the state”: Health, activism and ‘non-political’ prisoners in 1970s Ireland
Oisín Wall (University College Dublin)

10.40 – 12.20

E1       Interpersonal and institutional abuse

 “Hypocrisy unmasked”: Male sexual abuse in late Nineteenth Century Scotland and the trial of ‘Brother Alphonse, Ex-Marist Monk’
Hannah Telling (University of Glasgow)

Sexual assaults by boys against young girls in Victorian Scotland, 1851-1855
Chris Holligan (University of the West of Scotland)

“Excessive force”: Young offenders, institutional abuse and whistleblowing in historical perspective
Heather Shore (Leeds Beckett University)

Seeing beyond the bruises: Databasing unreasonable marital behaviour from Victorian Glasgow
Ashley Dee (The Open University)


E2       Interactions with repeat offenders

 Women, habitual offending and assault in South West England, 1880 – 1910
Grace Di Meo (University of Bristol)

Arresting repeat offenders, 1780 – 1850
Eleanor Bland (University of Sheffield)

Sarah Madden and the policing of morality in Victorian Rochdale
Craig Stafford (University of Liverpool)

Nineteenth Century juvenile convicts and their post-transportation offending
Emma Watkins (University of Liverpool)


E3       Forensic techniques in Britain and its Empire

 Thomas Scattergood: Forensic investigation and professional networks in Victorian Yorkshire
Laura Sellers (University of Leeds) and Katherine Watson (Oxford Brookes University)

The assassination of the Sirdar and the development of forensic ballistics in inter-war Egypt
Heather Wolffram (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)

English crime scene photographs as documentary images
Amy Bell (University of Western Ontario, Canada)

Forensic odontology in 1960s Scotland
Alison Adam (Sheffield Hallam University)

2.10 – 3.50

F1       The politics of law and order in 1980s Britain

 A “conspicuous success”: Policing the ‘riots’ of 1980-81
Simon Peplow (University of Exeter)

From Brixton to Orgreave: Tracing the creation of ACPO’s ‘Tactical Options Manual’ for public order policing
Jac St John (University of St. Andrews)

The impact of John Alderton’s community policing on Devon and Cornwall policing – the lost PACE legacy
Judith Rowbotham (University of Plymouth)

New definitions of ‘subversion’: the Thatcherite state and the security agencies during the Miners’ strike
Phil Rawsthorne (Edge Hill University)


F2       Analysing criminal justice patterns

Like ripples on a pond? The geography of the Bloody Code in England, 1760 – 1830

John Walliss (Liverpool Hope University)


What counts? Summary justice and criminal indictments at Great Yarmouth, 1839 – 1941
Helen Rogers (Liverpool John Moores University)


“Criminals incapable of reform?”: The inmates of Sydney’s prison island, 1839-1869
Katherine Roscoe (University of London)


Maidstone convict prison: A 1911 snapshot
Ben Bethell (Birkbeck, University of London)


F3       Crime and the Empire

Military-related crime in Jamaica during the 1920s and 1930s: Questions of race, masculinity and nationhood
Richard Smith (Goldsmiths, University of London)

“My God there is nobody to help me”: The policing of British Uitlanders in Johannesburg, 1886 – 1899
Cornelis Muller (Sol Plaatje University, South Africa)

The abolition of the death penalty in British Overseas Territories
James Campbell (University of Leicester)

First World War civilian POW camps in Great Britain, Canada and the Caribbean
Mark Minenko (Kings College London)

4.10 – 5.30

G1       Infanticide and child murder

Paternal Child Killing and the Use of the Insanity Plea, 1900 to 1939
Jessica Butler (University of Liverpool)

Infanticide and medical jurisprudence in Victorian Edinburgh: The Jessie King case
Kelly-Ann Couzens (University of Western Australia)

Modernity and ‘baby-farming’: Privatised commerce of motherhood and respectability in Victorian England
Joshua Stuart-Bennett (University of Leicester)


G2       Judicial activity and discretion

Why were so few wreckers ever convicted?
Andrew Brown (University of Wales)

Continuity or crisis? English judicial activity during the Black Death
Stephanie Brown (University of Cambridge)

Professional judges and laypersons in criminal trials: A comparative and historical perspective
Claudia Passarella (University of Padova, Italy)