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Professor Paul Lawrence

Profile summary

Professional biography

Paul Lawrence is Asa Briggs Professor of History and Director of the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. He is the Editor of the bi-lingual journal Crime, History & Societies and a member of the International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice,. 


Prof. Paul Lawrence
Department of History
Faculty of Arts
The Open University
Walton Hall

Tel: + 44 (0)1908 652998
Fax: + 44 (0)1908 653750

Research interests

All aspects of criminal justice history, c.1750-present;  the historiography of nationalism; the social history of poverty and welfare; memoirs and autobiographies as historical sources.

Current research projects include a broad history of the Vagrancy Act (1824) and its manifold impacts on English society.

I am currently supervising two Ph.D. students, as below, but Ph.D. applications on any of the above topics are welcome. For informal advice, please contact me as detailed above..

Eve Lewis 'St Fagan's Museum and the representation of Welshness-as-folk, 1946-71'

Sophie Michell 'The Dynamics of Death: Peterborough Coroner's Court, 1854-1905'

Previous doctoral students, as main supervisor, include:

Jack Taylor, ‘Against his will? Recovering male on male sexual violence in London, 1761-1861’ (awarded 2021)

Louise Ryland-Epton, ‘Welfare Innovation in the Late Eighteenth-Century: Gilbert’s Act Workhouses 1782-1834’ (awarded 2020)

Ashley Paton ‘“A System of Maltreatment”: Marital Cruelty in Victorian Glasgow’ (awarded 2019)

Robert Hopps, ‘Newspaper Reporting and Robbery in late 18th Century London’ (awarded 2017)

Calista Williams, ‘The National Library of Wales and National Identity, 1870-1917’ (awarded 2016)

Juliet Leigh, ‘Chief Constables in the North of England’ (awarded 2013)

Gonçalo Goncalves, ‘Civilizing the Police(man): Institutional Reform and Police Culture in Lisbon, c.1860-1910’ (awarded 2013)

David Churchill, ‘Crime, Policing and Control in Leeds, c.1830-1890’ (awarded 2012)

Janet Clark, ‘The police, the campaign for civil liberties and the dynamics of disorder inter-war Britain’ (awarded 2008

Teaching interests

I am currently seconded from my teaching duties. Recently, I prepared teaching materials on the 'History of Violence from 1500' for our new MA in History and served as production chair for A225 The British Isles and the Modern World, 1789-1914, which introduces students to the development of Britain and Ireland over the long nineteenth century, foregrounding interconnections with the wider world. 

External collaborations

The Open University is currently a member of the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. I am the current Director of the Consortium.  

I am the Editor of the  bi-lingual journal Crime, History and Societies/Crime, Histoire et Societes.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences
International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and JusticeCentreFaculty of Arts


Policing, ‘Science’ and the Curious Case of Photo-FIT (2020-09)
Lawrence, Paul
The Historical Journal, 63(4) (pp. 1007-1031)

Historical Criminology and the Explanatory Power of the Past (2019-09-01)
Lawrence, Paul
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 19(4) (pp. 493-511)

The Vagrancy Act (1824) and the Persistence of Pre-emptive Policing in England since 1750 (2017-05-01)
Lawrence, Paul
British Journal of Criminology, 57(3) (pp. 513-531)

History, Criminology and the 'Use' of the Past (2012)
Lawrence, Paul
Theoretical Criminology, 16(3) (p 313)

Road traffic offending and an inner-London magistrates’ court (1913-1963) (2008)
Donovan, Pamela and Lawrence, Paul
Crime, History and Societies, 12(2) (pp. 119-140)

The Paris police and the regulation of the poor in late-nineteenth-century Paris (2003)
Lawrence, Paul
Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, 29 (pp. 176-185)

'Degrees of foreignness' and the construction of identity in French border regions during the inter-war period (2001-03)
Lawrence, Paul; Baycroft, Timothy and Grohmann, Carolyn
Contemporary European History, 10(1) (pp. 51-71)

Naturalization, ethnicity and national identity in France between the wars (2001)
Lawrence, Paul
Immigrants and Minorities, 20(3) (pp. 1-24)

History and Crime (2008)
Lawrence, Paul; Williams, Chris and Godfrey, Barry
Key Approaches to Criminology
ISBN : 9781412920803 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London

History and Crime (2007)
Godfrey, Barry S.; Williams, Chris A. and Lawrence, Paul
Key approaches to criminology
ISBN : 978 1 4129 2079 7 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London, UK

Crime and justice 1750-1950 (2005-10)
Godfrey, Barry and Lawrence, Paul
ISBN : 1843921170 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton, Devon, UK

Nationalism: history and theory (2005)
Lawrence, Paul
ISBN : 582438012 | Publisher : Pearson Longman

A Global History of Crime and Punishment in the Modern Age (2023-08-24)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Emsley, Clive and McDougall, Sara eds. A Global History of Crime and Punishment
ISBN : 9781472584847 | Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic | Published : London

Crime and its Control in the Twentieth Century (2023-08-24)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Lawrence, Paul ed. A Global History of Crime and Punishment in the Modern age. Global History of Crime and Punishment (pp. 1-22)
ISBN : 978-1-4725-8483-0 | Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic | Published : London and New York

The Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice (2016-05)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Knepper, Paul and Johansen, Anja eds. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice. The Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 17-37)
ISBN : 978-0199352333 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

General Introduction [to the series] (2014-02-01)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Dodsworth, Francis ed. The Making of the Modern Police, 1780-1914: volume 1 - "The 'Idea' of Policing (vii-xxiii)
ISBN : 978-1138761568 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

The British police (2014)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Bruinsma, Gerben and Weisburd, David eds. Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 203-213)
ISBN : 978-1-4614-5689-6 | Publisher : Springer-Verlag | Published : New York

Nationalism and historical writing (2013)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Breuilly, John ed. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism. Oxford Handbooks in History (pp. 713-730)
ISBN : 978-0-19-920919-4 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

« They have an admirable police at Paris, but they pay for it dear enough ». La police européenne vue d’Angleterre au XIXe siècle (2012-09)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Denys, Catherine ed. Circulations policières, 1750-1914 (pp. 103-118)
ISBN : 978-2-7574-0393-8 | Publisher : Presses Universitaires du Septentrion | Published : Lille

The Police and Vagrants in France and England during the Nineteenth Century (2011)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Antonielli, Livio ed. Polizia, ordine pubblico e crimine tra città e campagna: un confronto comparative. Stato, esercito controllo del territorio (pp. 49-60)
ISBN : 978-88-498-2924-2 | Publisher : Rubbettino | Published : Manelli

Fabian, Robert Honey (1901-1978) (2010-09-23)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Goldman, Lawrence ed. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

Cop Culture? Les Récits de Vie Oraux et Écrits Des Policiers Anglais (2010-07)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Berlière, Jean Marc and Lévy, René eds. Le témoin, le sociologue et l'historien: Quand les policiers se mettent à table (pp. 227-239)
ISBN : 978-2-84736-448-4 | Publisher : Nouveau Monde éditions | Published : Paris

Urbanization, poverty, and crime (2005-12)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Martel, Gordon ed. A Companion to Europe 1900-1945. Blackwell companions to European History (pp. 3-18)
ISBN : 1405106646 | Publisher : Blackwell | Published : Oxford, UK

Policing the poor in England and France, 1850-1900 (2004-08)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Emsley, Clive; Johnson, Eric and Spierenburg, Pieter eds. Social control in Europe Volume 2: 1800-2000 (pp. 210-225)
ISBN : 814209696 | Publisher : Ohio State University Press | Published : Ohio, USA

'Scoundrels and scallywags, and some honest men ...': Memoirs and the self-image of French and English policemen c.1870-1939 (2003-09)
Lawrence, Paul
In: Godfrey, Barry; Emsley, Clive and Dunstall, Graeme eds. Comparative Histories of Crime (pp. 125-144)
ISBN : 1843920379 | Publisher : Willan Publishing

Crime and Justice since 1750 (2nd ed) (2014-11-01)
Godfrey, Barry and Lawrence, Paul eds.
ISBN : 978-0-415-70855-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Policing the Poor (2014-02-28)
Lawrence, Paul ed.
The Making of the Modern Police
ISBN : 9781848933712 | Publisher : Pickering & Chatto | Published : London

The New Police in the Nineteenth Century (2011-03)
Lawrence, Paul ed.
The History of Police
ISBN : 978-0-7546-2945-0 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Farnham, U.K.