Dr David Churchill

Dr David Churchill


I started academic life as an historian, during which time I developed a particular interest in the history of crime and justice. I obtained an MA in History from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in History from The Open University. In 2013-14, I held the Economic History Society Anniversary Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research in London. I first came to Leeds as a research fellow in 2014, and took up a lectureship the following year.

I have received various awards in recognition of my research. In 2016, I received the Radzinowicz Prize – awarded for the best article published that year in The British Journal of Criminology  and the British Society of Criminology Policing Network Early Career Prize. In 2019, I was awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association Theory and History Prize, for the best recent book in socio-legal theory or socio-legal history. I was also delighted in 2020 to receive the Faculty of Social Sciences Partnership Award for best doctoral supervisor.

With Christopher Mullins (Southern Illinois University), I am editor of a book series: Emerald Advances in Historical Criminology. The series aims to provide an inclusive platform for a range of approaches which, in various ways, seek to orient criminological enquiry to history or to the dynamics of historical time. I was founding chair of the British Society of Criminology Historical Criminology Network and, since 2021, I have served as Academic Advisor to the Police History Society.


  • Co-Director, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies

Research interests

My research is in historical criminology and criminal justice history, focusing on policing, security and crime control in modern Britain.

My current research centres on the development of security commodities and the security industry in modern Britain. I have previously published work on new security technologies and their social and cultural implications in the Victorian era. I am currently extending this research through an AHRC-funded project, which aims to provide a holistic account of security as commodity in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain, focusing on locks, safes and strong rooms, intruder alarms, security guarding and cash-in-transit services. This work sets out to analyse shifts in the design, production and consumption of security products and services, and to assess their wide-ranging economic, social and cultural consequences. The research includes conducting oral history interviews with security professionals active before the 1990s, and advocating for fuller engagement with history and security heritage in the security sector today. If you are interested in learning more about this work, please do get in touch.

Recently, I have also pursued work on the character and contribution of historical approaches to criminological research generally. This theoretical research has offered an original portrait of 'historical criminology', grounded in a specific conceptualisation of historical time, and explored what criminology at large has to gain from such work. This work resulted in a short book – Historical Criminology – co-authored with Henry Yeomans and Iain Channing. Reviews of this book have been published in Social & Legal StudiesPunishment & Society and Law, Crime and History.

My earlier work centred on the respective roles of the police and the civilian public in responding to property crime in the nineteenth century. This led to my first book – Crime Control and Everyday Life in the Victorian City: The Police and the Public (2017) – published by Oxford University Press. The book reconstructs social responses to crime in provincial Victorian cities, providing an original interpretation of the governance of crime in the era of the 'new' police. The book was reviewed in major journals, including The American Historical ReviewJournal of British Studies, Journal of Law and Society and Crime, Media, Culture. Other work arising out of this research addressed the administration of the ‘new’ police forces, police-public relations, the politics of policing and the historiography of modern criminal justice.

With Anna Barker, Nathan Booth and Adam Crawford, I have also conducted research on public parks in Leeds. This project focused on the social purpose of urban parks, and how parks were goverend and experienced, both in the Victorian era and in the present day. This led me to work with Leeds Library and Information Service to develop a photographic archive of Leeds parks through time (highlights of the collection are available to view here).

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in History
  • MA in History

Professional memberships

  • Member, British Society of Criminology
  • Fellow, Royal Historical Society

Student education

I contribute to teaching on the BA in Criminal Justice and Criminology. My principal areas of teaching are in study skills, policing, security and crime prevention, crime and technology, and the history of crime and criminal justice. I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations on criminal justice topics.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Criminal Justice Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>