Dr David Churchill

Dr David Churchill


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

In 2016, I was awarded the Radzinowicz Prize - for the best article published that year in The British Journal of Criminology - and the British Society of Criminology Policing Network Early Career Prize.

Research interests

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

Most of my work to-date has centred on the roles of the police and the civilian public in nineteenth-century crime control. This led in 2017 to the publication of my first book - Crime Control and Everyday Life in the Victorian City: The Police and the Public - by Oxford University Press (http://www.oup.com/localecatalogue/cls_academic/?i=9780198797845). The book assess the response to crime in provincial Victorian cities, providing an original interpretation of relations between formal and informal policing in the era of the 'new' police. Related to this project, I have also researched police governance, police-public relations and the historiography of modern criminal justice.

I have also pursued research on security technologies and the development of the security industry in the nineteenth century. Focusing on key innovations in security hardware (particularly locks, safes and strong rooms), this work has contributed an historical perspective to work on the commodification of security and its social and cultural implications. I am currently working to extend this research into the twentieth century.

With Anna Barker, Nathan Booth and Adam Crawford, I have conducted research on the social life of public parks in Leeds, past and present. This project focused on the social purpose of urban parks – in the Victorian era and the present day – and everyday experiences of parks and their regulation (https://futureofparks.leeds.ac.uk/). As part of this project, we worked with Leeds Library and Information Service to develop a photographic archive of Leeds parks through time - view the highlights of the collection here: http://leodiscollections.net/collection/10

Increasingly, I am engaged in promoting and developing historical approaches to criminology. This involves theoretical research on 'historical criminology', which investigates how criminology might benefit from a sustained engagement with a specific conceptualisation of historical time. It also involves networking initiatives through the British Society of Criminology Historical Criminology Network, which I founded and now chair. For more information on the Network, see: https://www.historicalcriminology.com/

In addition to the above areas, I have research interests in victims and prosecution, crime and technology and the politics of policing.

<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

  • British Society of Criminology

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
<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>