Victorian London - Prisons and Penal System - Prisons - photographing prisoners

CRIMINAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Three years ago the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the exercise of power intrusted to him by parliament, issued an order to the magistrates to furnish the Commissioners of Police with photographs of all offenders in county prisons, whose offences brought them within the statutory meaning of the Habitual Criminals' Act; thereby giving systematic effect to a plan which had before been only partially adopted. The Chief Commissioner of Police, reporting on the subject about a year afterwards, stated that the order had not been so well carried out as had been expected, but that the full benefits might eventually be looked for. . . . Two years ago a new Act was passed to give more definite effect to the Home Secretary's order. Registers of convictions are to be kept in a prescribed form at central offices in London, Edinburgh and Dublin. The governor, or chief officer of every jail, is to make returns of the persons convicted of crime who come into his custody. Regulations are to be made for photographing all prisoners convicted of crime, confined in any prisons; and refusal to obey any regulation made in this matter is to be deemed an offence against prison discipline. The expenses of keeping the register are to be paid by the Treasury; but the outlay for photographing the convicts is to be deemed a part of the regular expenses of each prison or jail.

All the Year Round, November 1, 1873