This collection comprises registers and weekly newspapers with details of criminals, including habitual criminal registers, photographs and physical descriptions, Police Gazettes, Supplements 'A' and Informations (London Area). In the early part of the 19th century, registers of criminals in the London area were kept in rudimentary form by the Bow Street Police. The Prevention of Crimes Act 1871 legislated that a single register should be kept of all those convicted of a crime and sent to prison for one month or more. The prison governors were responsible for notifying particular details and personal descriptions to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (known as the Keeper of the Records).
In 1884 responsibility for the publication and circulation of what became known as the Police Gazette was transferred from the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street to the Criminal Record Office. It was published daily and circulated to all police forces in Great Britain, and contained details of persons and articles connected with current crime.
Supplement "A" to the Police Gazette was issued fortnightly and contained names and aliases, short criminal histories, descriptions and methods of persons who were considered to be expert and travelling criminals, and was intended for the information and guidance of detectives and officers engaged in criminal records and the organisation of detective work. Criminal Record Office Confidential Information were circulated daily to all Metropolitan and Home Counties police stations. They contained similar information to the Police Gazettes, but were concerned only with criminals in London and surrounding areas.