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Portraits of criminals, c 1890.


Portraits of criminals, c 1890.
3 8 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 30cm


A page from an album of criminal register photographs, taken by a unknown photographer at Wormwood Scrubs prison in about 1890. The criminals hold up their hands to show any identifying features, such as tattoos or missing fingers. A mirror placed on their right shoulder captures their profile. The use of photography to record known criminals - the 'mug shot'- had been in evidence as early as the 1840s. In 1871, the Prevention of Crimes Act made it a legal requirement that all persons arrested for a crime must have their photographs taken.

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© National Museum of Science & Media / Science & Society Picture Library

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