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Professor Clive Emsley

Clive Emsley photo

Profile summary

Professional biography

Clive Emsley was among the first appointments to the Open University History department, arriving in 1970 straight from doing research at Cambridge.  Since then he has had some time away from Milton Keynes as a visiting professor at the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-St. Denis), in Calgary, Griffith in Australia and Christchurch New Zealand.  In 2004 he was visiting research fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Research interests

Since the late 1970s Clive’s research has concentrated on the history of crime and policing in Western Europe, principally in England and France.  He was co-director (with Professor Robert Shoemaker of Sheffield University and Professor Tim Hitchcock of the University of Sussex) of the second stage of the Old Bailey online project.  Funded by the AHRC this project provides free, searchable access fo the Proceedings of the Old Bailey and (from 1834) of the Central Criminal Court from 1674 to 1913 (  He was the prime mover in making the Open University the centre for one of the largest archive collections of material relating to police in the United Kingdom.  A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2006 enabled the cataloguing of much of this material and two teaching packs for schools.  A subsequent Knowledge Transfer fellowship from the AHRC developed the History Department’s links with the Metropolitan Police and led to another six teaching packs and to some of the holdings in the Met Police Archive being made available online (

External Research grants from the ESRC and from the Leverhulme trust led to first, a study of the spread of British Police methods beyond the metropole since the end of the Second World War, and second, to crimes committed by members of the British Armed Forces since 1914.

He has published widely on the history of police notably since the mid-1990s, The English Police: A Political and Social History (2nd edn.), Gendarmes and the State in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1999) and The Great British Bobby: A History of British Policing from the 18th. Century to the Present (revised edn, 2010).  He has also published on the history of crime.  His Crime and Society in England 1750-1900 has become a basic text for students working in the area and appeared in a fifth edition in 2018. Crime and Society in twentieth-century England (2011) provided a follow up and Crime, Police and Penal Policy: European Experiences 1750-1940 (2007) gives a comparative study of attitudes, behavior and developments in courts and in policing since the Enlightenment.

In the last few years his worked has focused rather more on crime and policing among service personnel in wartime leading to Soldier, Sailor, Beggarman Thief: Crime and the British Armed Services since 1914 (2013) and Exporting British Policing During the Second World War: Policing Soldiers and Civilians (2017).  The discovery of a family trove of documents during the research for the latter book led A Police Officer and Gentleman: A.F. (Michael) Wilcox (2018), a biography of a relatively unknown but significant chief constable who did police service with the army in wartime Italy and post-war Vienna in between his time as a conventional civilian police officer.

In 2016 Clive’s research was recognized with an Honorary D.Litt from Edge Hill University.

Teaching interests

During his time as an active member of staff Clive chaired five production course teams and, in addition to his work teaching history, he contributed to arrange of interdisciplinary courses.

External collaborations

Clive was a co-founder and co-director of the Criminology research group at the university from 2003 until 2009.  For 12 years he was president of the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice, funded by the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris and he maintains close links with the Association’s bilingual journal Crime, histoire et sociétés/Crime, history and societies.  He was a research associate of CEPS, the Australian Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security an umbrella group linking police forces and universities across Australia.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and JusticeCentreFaculty of Arts


British Police in Postwar Vienna: Chasing the Real Harry Lime (2019-02-01)
Emsley, Clive
History Today, 69(2) (pp. 40-53)

Crucifying Tommy: punishment in the First World War (2012-11)
Emsley, Clive
History Today, 62(11) (pp. 29-35)

Marketing the brand: exporting British police models 1829-1950 (2012-03)
Emsley, Clive
Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 6(1) (pp. 43-54)

Bobbies Abroad (2011-10)
Emsley, Clive and Sinclair, Georgina
History Today, 61(10) (pp. 49-51)

Violent crime in England in 1919: post-war anxieties and press narratives (2008)
Emsley, Clive
Continuity and Change, 23(1) (pp. 173-195)

Community Policing/Policing and Communities: Some Historical Perspectives (2007-08)
Emsley, Clive
Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 1(2) (pp. 235-243)

Filling in, adding up, moving on; Criminal Justice History in contemporary Britain (2005)
Emsley, Clive
Crime, History and Societies, 9(1) (pp. 117-138)

El ejercito, la policia y el mantenimiento del orden publico en Inglaterra (c.1750-1950) (2005)
Emsley, Clive
Política y sociedad, 42(3) (pp. 15-29)

La historia social evolutiva de la criminalidad y de los sistemas de justicia penal (2003)
Emsley, Clive
Revista de Historia, 48, (pp. 155-179)

Police, maintien de l'ordre et espaces urbains: une lecture anglaise (2003)
Emsley, Clive
Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, 50(1) (pp. 5-12)

The Policeman as worker: a comparative survey c. 1800-1940 (2000-04)
Emsley, Clive
International Review of Social History, 45(1) (pp. 89-110)

The Habsburg gendarmerie: a research agenda (1999-04)
Emsley, Clive and Phillips, Sabine
German History, 17(2) (pp. 241-250)

The origins of the modern police (1999-04)
Emsley, Clive
History Today, 49(4) (pp. 8-14)

A typology of nineteenth-century police (1999)
Emsley, Clive
Crime, History and Societies, 3(1) (pp. 29-44)

A Police Officer and a Gentleman: A.F. 'Michael' Wilcox (2018-05)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 978-1-911273-36-3 | Publisher : Blue Lamp Books | Published : London

Exporting British Policing during the Second World War: Policing Soldiers and Civilians (2017-07-13)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 978-1-350-02501-1 | Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic | Published : London

Soldier, Sailor, Beggarman, Thief: Crime and the British Armed Services since 1914 (2013-01-24)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 978-0-19-965371-3 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

Crime and Society in Twentieth-Century England (2011-04)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 978-1-4058-5902-8 | Publisher : Longman/Pearson | Published : Harlow

The Great British Bobby: A History of British Policing from the 18th Century to the Present (2009)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 9781847249470 | Publisher : Quercus | Published : London

Crime, police and penal policy: European experiences 1750-1940 (2007-07)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 978-0-19-920285-0 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK

Hard Men: Violence in England since 1750 (2005-03-24)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 1852854081 | Publisher : Hambledon Press | Published : London, UK

Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900. 3rd edition (2004-10)
Emsley, Clive
Themes in British Social History
ISBN : 9780582784857 | Publisher : Pearson Longman | Published : Harlow, UK

Napoleon: Conquest, Reform and Reorganisation (2003)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 582437954 | Publisher : Longman | Published : UK

Britain and the French Revolution (2000)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 582369614 | Publisher : Longman | Published : UK

Gendarmes and the State in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1999)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 978-0-19-820798-6 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : UK

The English Police: A Political and Social History (1991)
Emsley, Clive
ISBN : 582257689 | Publisher : Harvester Wheatsheaf | Published : London

‘Du concept à l’institution: Les spécifités du mot “police” en langue anglaise’ (2018-05)
Emsley, Clive
In: Cicchini, Marco and Denis, Vincent eds. Le Nœud gordien. Police et justice: des Lumières à l’État libéral (1750-1850) (pp. 47-69)
ISBN : 978-2-8257-1075-3 | Publisher : Georg | Published : Chêne-Bourg, Switzerland

Crime and Policing in Wartime (2016-05-02)
Emsley, Clive
In: Knepper, Paul and Johansen, Anja eds. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Crime and Criminal Justice (pp. 519-536)
ISBN : 978-0-19-935233-3 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

A legacy of conflict? The ‘brutalised veteran’ and violence in Europe after the Great War (2010)
Emsley, Clive
In: Avdela, Efi; D'Cruze, Shani and Rowbotham, Judith eds. Problems of Crime and Violence in Europe, 1780-2000: Essays in Criminal Justice (pp. 43-64)
ISBN : 0-7734-3815-7 | Publisher : Edwin Mellen Press | Published : UK

Behind the wooden walls: the British defence against invasion, 1803-1805 (2008)
Emsley, Clive
In: Harding, Richard ed. A Great and Glorious Victory: New perspectives on the Battle of Trafalgar (pp. 80-89)
ISBN : 9781848320086 | Publisher : Seaforth | Published : Barnsley

Historical perspectives on crime (2007-03-29)
Emsley, Clive
In: Maguire, Mike; Morgan, Rod and Reiner, Robert eds. The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. 4th edition. (pp. 122-138)
ISBN : 978 0 19 920543 1 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK

Entrepreneurs prives, fonctionnaires et juristes: Les transformations de la procedure judiciaire dans l'Angleterre du XIXe siecle (2007)
Emsley, Clive
In: Farcy, Jean-Claude; Kalifa, Dominique and Luc, Jean-Noel eds. L'enquete judiciaire en Europe au XIXe siecle (pp. 43-58)
ISBN : 978 2 9136 1092 7 | Publisher : Creaphis | Published : Paris

Beware of the Leopard? Police archives in Great Britain (2006)
Williams, Chris and Emsley, Clive
In: Procter, M and Cook, M. G. eds. Political Pressure and the Archival Record (pp. 227-235)
ISBN : 1 931666 15 6 | Publisher : Society of American Archivists | Published : Chicago, UK

Security work: citizens, employees and officials working on crime - a response (2006)
Emsley, Clive
In: Levy, Rene; Muchielli, Laurent and Zauberman, Renee eds. Crime et Insecurite: Un Demi-Siecle de Bouleversements (pp. 281-286)
ISBN : 2-296-01776-2 | Publisher : L'Harmattan | Published : Paris

From ex-con to expert: the police detective in 19th-century France (2006)
Emsley, Clive
In: Emsley, Clive and Shpayer-Makov, Haia eds. Police Detectives in History, 1750–1950 (pp. 61-78)
ISBN : 978-0-7546-3948-0 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Aldershot

Recidivists and recidivism: some broad conclusions from the English experience (2006)
Emsley, Clive
In: Briegel, Francoise and Porret, Michel eds. Le criminal endurci: Recidive e trecidivists du Moyen Age au XXe siecle (pp. 171-185)
ISBN : 978-2-600-01033-7 | Publisher : Droz | Published : Geneva

Sergeant Goddard: the story of a rotten apple or a diseased orchard? (2005-07)
Emsley, Clive
In: Srebnik, Amy Gilman and Levy, Rene eds. Crime and culture: an historical perspective. Advances in Criminology (pp. 85-104)
ISBN : 754623831 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Aldershot, UK

The changes in policing and penal policy in nineteenth-century Europe (2005)
Emsley, Clive
In: Godfrey, Barry and Dunstall, Graeme eds. Crime and Empire, 1840-1940 : Criminal Justice in Local and Global Context (pp. 8-24)
ISBN : 9781843921073 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton

Control and legitimacy: the police in comparative perspective since circa 1800 (2004)
Emsley, Clive
In: Emsley, Clive; Johnson, Eric and Spierenburg, Pieter eds. Social Control in Europe, Volume 2 1800-2000. History of crime and criminal justice series (pp. 193-209)
ISBN : 814209696 | Publisher : Ohio State University Press | Published : Columbus OH

The Second World War and the police in England and Wales (2004)
Emsley, Clive
In: Fijnaut, Cyrille ed. The Impact of World War II on Policing in North West Europe. Samenleving Criminaliteit en Strafrechtspleging (27) (pp. 151-172)
ISBN : 9058673545 | Publisher : Leuven University Press | Published : Leuven

The Police (2004)
Emsley, Clive
In: Bogdanor, Vernon ed. The British Constitution in the Twentieth Century (pp. 557-583)
ISBN : 978-0-19-726319-8 | Publisher : Oxford University Press/British Academy | Published : UK

Crime, police and penal policy (2003)
Emsley, Clive
In: Wrigley, Chris ed. A Companion to Early Twentieth-Century Britain (pp. 438-452)
ISBN : 9780631217909 | Publisher : Blackwell | Published : Oxford

Policemen on a dark continent in an age of extremes (2003)
Emsley, Clive
In: Oram, Gerard ed. Conflict and Legality: Policing mid-twentieth-century Europe (pp. 192-212)
ISBN : 978 1 903427 20 0 | Publisher : Francis Boutle | Published : London

The birth and development of the police (2003)
Emsley, Clive
In: Newburn, Tim ed. Handbook of Policing (pp. 66-83)
ISBN : 1-843923-23-8 | Publisher : Willan Publishing

The English police: A unique development? (2002)
Emsley, Clive
In: Bottoms, Anthony and Tonry, Michael eds. Ideology, Crime and Criminal Justice: A symposium in honour of Sir Leon Radzinowicz (pp. 74-93)
Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton

La gendarmerie et l'état (2002)
Emsley, Clive
In: Luc, Jean-Noël ed. Gendarmerie, État et Société au XIXe Siècle (pp. 475-477)
ISBN : 2859444491 | Publisher : Publications de la Sorbonne | Published : Paris

Street, beat and respectability : the culture and self-image of the Victorian and Edwardian policeman (2002)
Emsley, Clive and Clapson, Mark
In: Knafla, Louis A. ed. Policing and War in Europe: Criminal Justice History (pp. 107-131)
ISBN : 978-0-313-31012-6 | Publisher : Greenwood Press

The best way to keep the peace in a country : Napoleon's gendarmes and their legacy (2000-02)
Emsley, Clive
In: Laven, David and Riall, Lucy eds. Napoleon's Legacy: Problems of Government in Restoration Europe (pp. 257-274)
ISBN : 9781859732441 | Publisher : Berg | Published : Oxford

The Pop-Gun Plot, 1794 (2000)
Emsley, Clive
In: Davis, Michael T. ed. Radicalism and Revolution in Britain, 1775-1848: Essays in Honour of Malcolm I. Thomis (pp. 56-68)
ISBN : 9780312224905 | Publisher : Macmillan | Published : London

P.C. Dixon and Commissaire Maigret: some myths and realities in the development of English and continental police (1999-11)
Emsley, Clive
In: Howell, David W. and Morgan, Kenneth O. eds. Crime, Protest and Police in Modern British Society: essays in memory of David J. V. Jones (pp. 97-117)
ISBN : 708315550 | Publisher : University of Wales Press | Published : Cardiff

Law reform and penal reform in England in the age of the French Revolution (1999-04)
Emsley, Clive
In: Rousseaux, Xavier; Bouchat, Marie-Sylvie Dupont and Vael, Claude eds. Revolutions et justice penale. Modeles francais et traditions nationales (pp. 319-331)
ISBN : 2-7384-7675-9 | Publisher : L'Harmattan | Published : Paris

La historia de la delincuencia y la justicia penal (1750-1914): una relexion sobre los estudios actuales (1999)
Emsley, Clive
In: Paniagua, J; Piqueras, J.A. and Sanz, V eds. Cultura social y politica en el mundo del trabajo. Biblioteca Historia Social (3) (pp. 85-103)
ISBN : 84-930340-4-5 | Publisher : Fundación Instituto de Historia Social | Published : Valencia

Les gendarmes et les paysans: vers une histoire institutionnelle et sociale comparée (1998)
Emsley, Clive
In: Chauvaud, Frédéric and Petit, Jacques-Guy eds. L'histoire comtemporaine et les usages des archives judiciaires (1800-1939). Histoire et Archives, revue semestrielle de la Société des Amis des Archives de France (2) (pp. 305-315)
Publisher : Honoré Champion | Published : Paris

The nation-state, the law and the peasant in nineteenth-century Europe (1997)
Emsley, Clive
In: Rousseaux, Xavier and Lévy, René eds. Le pénal dans tous ses États: justice, États et sociétés en Europe (XIe-XXe siècles). Publications des Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis (74) (pp. 153-178)
ISBN : 2802801155 | Publisher : Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis | Published : Brussels

Political police and the European nation-state in the nineteenth century (1997)
Emsley, Clive
In: Mazower, Mark ed. The Policing of Politics in the Twentieth Century: Historical Perspectives (pp. 1-25)
ISBN : 978-1-57181-873-7 | Publisher : Berghahn Books | Published : Providence, RI

The regulation of motor traffic in Britain (1997)
Emsley, Clive
In: Kellens, Georges and Perez Dias, Claudine eds. Le Contrôle de la Circulation Routière dans les Pays de la CEE. Logiques sociales (pp. 77-89)
ISBN : 2-7384-5855-6 | Publisher : L'Harmattan | Published : Paris

Albion's fatal attractions: Reflections upon the history of crime in England (1996)
Emsley, Clive
In: Emsley, Clive and Knafla, Louis A eds. Crime History and Histories of Crime: Studies in the Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice in Modern History (pp. 67-85)
ISBN : 0-313-28722-8 | Publisher : Greenwood Press | Published : Westport, Conn.

The archives of the English and Welsh police forces: a survey (1995)
Emsley, Clive
In: Knafla, Louis A. and Binne, Susan W.S. eds. Law, Society and the State: Essays in Modern Legal History (pp. 465-476)
ISBN : 9780802005359 | Publisher : University of Toronto Press | Published : Toronto

Theories and Origins of the Modern Police (2011-02)
Emsley, Clive ed.
The History of Policing
ISBN : 9780754629498 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Farnham

Police Detectives in History, 1750-1950 (2006-07)
Emsley, Clive and Emsley, Clive
Emsley, Clive and Shpayer-Makov, Haia eds.
ISBN : 07546-39487 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Aldershot, UK

The Persistent Prison: Problems, Images and Alternatives (2005-03)
Emsley, Clive ed.
ISBN : 9781903427248 | Publisher : Francis Boutle | Published : London

Social Control in Europe 1800-2000 (2004)
Emsley, Clive; Johnson, Eric and Spierenburg, Pieter eds.
ISBN : 814209718 | Publisher : Ohio State University Press | Published : Columbus, OH,

Comparative Histories of Crime (2003)
Godfrey, Barry; Emsley, Clive and Dunstall, Graeme eds.
ISBN : 1843920360 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : UK

Total War and Historical Change: Europe 1914-1955 (2001)
Marwick, Arthur; Emsley, Clive and Simpson, Wendy eds.
ISBN : 335207936 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : Buckinghamshire

Patterns of Provocation: Police and Public Disorder (2000)
Bessel, Richard and Emsley, Clive eds.
ISBN : 1-57181-227X | Publisher : Berghahn Books | Published : UK

Crime Histories and Histories of Crime: Studies in the Historiography of Crime and Criminal Justice in Modern History (1996)
Emsley, Clive and Knafla, Louis A. eds.
ISBN : 313287228 | Publisher : Greenwood Press | Published : Westport, Conn.

The theory and practice of justice: laws, norms, deviance (2000)
Emsley, Clive; Levy, Rene and Rousseaux, Xavier
In : 19th International Congress of Historical Sciences (6-13 Aug 2000, Oslo, Norway) (pp. 155-166)