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19th Century Policing in the Lothians

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HM General Register House

2 Princes Street

Edinburgh

EH1 3YY

United Kingdom

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Dr John McGowan, retired Lothian & Borders Police Officer

The City of Edinburgh Police was established in 1805 under the governance of Police Commissioners; but other Constabularies were formed in Haddingtonshire (1832), Edinburghshire (1840) and Linlithgowshire (1840) under the governance of respective Commissioners of Supply.

During the 19th century, these shires became increasingly known as Counties, and responsibilities for the administration of the police were transferred to the newly created East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian County Councils.

Photography had been available from the 1840s, but was a relatively expensive facility. The National Records of Scotland and Edinburgh City Archive exhibition, 'Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870-1917' illustrates how Police in the Lothians used photographs of convicted criminals for both legal-criminal justice purposes - under the Prevention of Crimes Act, 1871 (as amended in 1876) - and as an aid to the investigation of local crimes.

At an estimated cost of one shilling and four pence (1/4d) per photograph during the 1870s, photography was the most effective means available for identifying convicted criminals – before the introduction of Police finger-printing in the twentieth century.

As part of a series of talks around ‘Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870-1917’, Dr John McGowan will give an overview of early police governance, legislative requirements, police responsibilities and their attempts to prevent crime, including the use of photography.

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HM General Register House

2 Princes Street

Edinburgh

EH1 3YY

United Kingdom

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