Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service staff are currently engaged in a 15 month joint project with Shropshire Archives to make available the archives of West Mercia Police deposited with them. Some of the work involves sorting, assessing and listing material transferred from the Police Headquarters at Hindlip. Other work involves retroconverting or enhancing lists and catalogues done in the past which are not online. There is also some repackaging and conservation work to be done before the records can be made available.
Cataloguing the West Mercia Police archives
The cataloguing side of the project has been made possible by a grant from the National Cataloguing Grants programme. The records cover the 19th and 20th centuries and include both information on the organisation of the police, their buildings and personnel and also their approaches to crime, its prevention and punishment. There are also records relating to individual police stations, individual officers and local crimes and criminals.
|Some of the West Mercia Police archives awaiting cataloguing|
Some of the material in the West Mercia Police collections is in poor condition, so in parallel with cataloguing the records, we are also undertaking some conservation work thanks to a grant from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. Our conservator is concentrating on the police descriptive registers which give details on individual policemen such as age, weight, height, chest measurement and measurement for helmet. As these volumes provide such detailed information about individual officers, they will be particularly useful to our family history customers. It is also hoped that some work can be carried out on charge books and petty sessions case books, many of which are also in need of attention.
|Some of the police records in need of conservation|
Making the records available
Once the work is completed, the catalogues will be made available online and in the searchrooms of the two archive offices. Some more modern records may be closed for a while because of the personal nature of the information contained within them.
It is hoped that the project will enhance the records available in the two counties for research into police history and crime in general and that the police records will complement other records relating to law and order already held such as those of local courts and prisons. The records will provide a valuable resource for research areas such as the nature of crime and the role of the police in the wider community, They will also provide a unique window on the daily lives of both those who were police officers and those who were members of the criminal fraternity.