Police, prisons and penal reform

The police and prison services are an integral part of Britain's criminal justice system.

Until the early 19th century organised policing and the provision of prisons was an entirely local matter, but beginning in the 1820s, and during the Victorian period, a series of parliamentary measures brought the local police forces and prisons under the supervision of the Home Office.

These measures were essential in ensuring the uniform and effective development of the police and prison services

Key dates

Key dates

Follow the major pieces of legislation which have placed police and prisons on a national footing

Contemporary context

Contemporary context

Overcrowding in prisons continues to occupy the attention of Parliament in the early 21st century

Further your research

Further your research

There is much more to discover about Parliament's role in the history of Britain's police and prisons. View a list of resources for more in-depth research

Norwich case study

Follow the Norwich history detectives as they research imprisoned debtors and prisons in eighteenth and nineteenth century Norwich.

Related information

Current parliamentary business on the topics of crime, civil law, justice and rights