Project Leader
Des Hoar
Start Date
February 7, 2014
Team Members

Project Plan

Our first Law and Order project included an examination of the levels of crime in Sharnbrook and did some rudimentary comparisons with other villages in the Division. The focus was then put on specific events to determine which individuals and families were most involved in criminal activity.

Since this work has been completed BLARS have finished their Paths to Crime project which preserves all 19thC Quarter Sessions records and provides a vigorous update to their on-line index.

This new SLHG project would ideally take the same approach to all Bletsoe/Sharnbrook Petty Session records and would create a full index of all crime activity at the PSD level. An initial examination of the PSD minutes (PSS1/n) shows the original material (recorded by John Garrard , sec to PSD) to be complete but extremely difficult to read, it being handwritten with frequent abbreviations.  A review of a sample of 1840-50 data with BLARS Paths to Crime Project Leader concluded that it would be difficult to be confident about the quality of any analysis because of the high probability of misinterpreting the original text.

Some of the above data is also recorded as Court Registers (PSS2/n) but only for the years 1880-1914. Beyond that date both sets of records are restricted by the 100yr embargo rule.

It was concluded that a feasibility study would be viable if the above two sets of records are cross-referenced against the Police Registers (QER/1-11) and Police Officer Report Books (QER12-16) both of which are available from ca 1850-1876.

Further confirmation will be possible via cross-referencing with fortnightly PSD reports in the Bedfordshire Times (hard copies in Heritage Library).

Any prosecutions escalated to Bedford Quarter Sessions will be further examined via the new BLARS index (QSR18 ). Any further escalation to a Higher Court would also be examined in detail. A cross check against HMI annual reports would determine if the local crime levels reflected the County position.

Project Plan

The initial phase will study these records for a series of 10 year datasets corresponding to the census years so that personal, family and residence data can be used to understand the environment in which the crime was committed. The data will of course include all crimes from Sharnbrook and all surrounding villages in the given year.

The project will begin in year 1911 and work backwards in 10 year steps to 1841. Hopefully the clarity of the handwritten records will better in the latter years.

The data for each appearance in the Petty Session Court will be collected on a spreadsheet and will record the date, the offender, the location, the offender’s residence, the crime, the verdict, the punishment, the magistrate etc.

Pivot tables will be used to analyse the data, to make comparisons and to determine any trends.

The subsequent study of data from any other years will depend on the results of this phase.