History of Crime

About us

Our researchers have expertise in the history of blasphemy, infanticide, violence in society, sex crimes, terrorism, magical crimes, history of shame and forensic medicine. Members of the group are also concerned with promoting, developing and embedding historical approaches to criminology. 

Current projects include:

  • studies of the history of homicide
  • medico-legal practice in England and Wales
  • shame in the 20th century
  • crime and politics
  • religion, terrorism, criminalised magic, crime and the law
  • the history of intimate-partner violence and the interrelationship between the law, gender, and family life
  • historical policing practices
  • the history of crime in eastern Europe
  • sensorial cultures of crime from the 19th century to the digital age
  • Manx criminal legal history

"Crime Scene Do Not Cross" police tape

Related courses

Research impact

"The drunkard's children" by George Cruikshank

Members of the History of Crime group engage with contemporary agendas in many of our areas of research and relate these to past paradigms. This has enabled members of the group to work with professional practitioners, lawyers, NGOs, parliaments, government departments and transnational organisations as well as broadcast media, museums and local history groups as a method of achieving wider research impact.

A hallmark of this approach has also been the group’s involvement with the international SOLON Project and its network of university partnerships, in which Oxford Brookes has taken a leading role. The research group has hosted international conferences (in Britain and abroad) and operates a seminar series at Oxford Brookes that has both a national and international focus. Two book series (with Routledge and Bloomsbury) are edited or jointly edited by members of the research group. The cluster’s research has been instrumental in informing and creating policy around blasphemy and hate crime within the European Union and notably in England and the Republic of Ireland.


Katherine Watson

Professor Katherine Watson

Professor of Criminal Justice History

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Name Role Email
Professor Joanne Begiato Associate Dean (Research and Knowledge Exchange) jbegiato@brookes.ac.uk
Dr Eleanor Bland Programme Lead for Criminology ebland@brookes.ac.uk
Professor Johannes Dillinger Professor of Early Modern History dillinger@brookes.ac.uk
Professor Peter Edge Professor of Law pwedge@brookes.ac.uk
Professor Anne-Marie Kilday Professor of Criminal History and PVC Student and Staff Experience akilday@brookes.ac.uk
Professor David Nash Emeritus Professor of History dsnash@brookes.ac.uk
Dr Kate West Senior Lecturer in Visual Criminology k.west@brookes.ac.uk


Name Thesis Title Supervisors Completed
Angela Buckley The Science of Sleuthing: The Evolution of Detective Practice in English Regional Cities, 1838–1914 Professor David Nash, Professor Katherine Watson


Christopher Milroy The development of forensic medicine as an academic discipline in the UK: An examination of its teaching and literature to 1914 Dr Jane Stevens Crawshaw, Professor Katherine Watson


Image credit:

"The drunkard's children" by George Cruikshank from the Wellcome Collection.