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 my current post 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 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 new 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.

Since 2021 I have also 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.

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 to my first book - Crime Control and Everyday Life in the Victorian City: The Police and the Public - published in 2017 by Oxford University Press. 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. The book was reviewed in major journals, including The American Historical ReviewJournal of British Studies, Journal of Law and Society and Crime, Media, Culture. Related to this project, I have also researched police governance, police-public relations, the politics of policing and the historiography of modern criminal justice.

My current research centres on the development of security commodities and the security industry in modern Britain. I have previously published work on key innovations in security hardware (particularly locks, safes and strong rooms) in the mid-nineteenth century, has explored the social and cultural implications of new security technologies. From 2020-22, I am extending this research with funding from an AHRC Leadership Fellowship. This project aims to provide a holistic account of how security was commodified in modern Britain since the late eighteenth century, analysing shifts in the design, production and consumption of security products and services, and illustrating the wide-ranging economic, social and cultural consequences of security commodification. This research will involve oral history interviews with security professionals active before the 1990s – if you are interested in participating in this research, please do get in touch.

I am also engaged in promoting and developing historical approaches to criminology at large. This has involved theoretical research on 'historical criminology', investigating how criminology might benefit from sustained engagement with a specific conceptualisation of historical time. With Henry Yeomans (University of Leeds) and Iain Channing (University of Plymouth), I am currently completing a short book, entitled Historical Criminology, which will be published by Routledge in 2021. I have also pursued networking initiatives in this area, notably as founding chair of the British Society of Criminology Historical Criminology Network.

I have also conducted on public parks and urban history. With Anna Barker, Nathan Booth and Adam Crawford, I 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. As part of this project, I worked 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>