Staff Profile: Dr David Cox

FacultyDr David Cox

Faculty of Social Sciences


School of Social, Historical and Political Studies


Reader in Criminal Justice History and Module Leader 6CJ007

Criminology and Criminal Justice Research Project

Contact details

Direct line: 01902 321587



University of Wolverhampton
Faculty of Social Sciences
Mary Seacole Building
Nursery  Street


I was appointed Reader in Criminal Justice History at the University of Wolverhampton in 2014, after first being employed as a Lecturer in Criminology at the University in April 2013.

Prior to that I had worked as a Research Fellow at Plymouth University and as a Research Associate at Keele University since 2004.

Before joining academia, I worked in the public service sector for many years.

My interests are early policing history (especially the work of the Bow Street ‘Runners’ and the parish constabulary system), the Victorian prison system (especially with regard to the system of prison licensing), transportation to both the United States and Australia, the history of the magistracy (particularly the work of petty sessions magistrates), the history of probation, and the history of public indecency since the Victorian period.

I have published widely on all of these topics, continue to participate in numerous national and international conferences such as the Social Sciences Historical Association as invited speaker, chairperson and discussant, and have also co-organised several research-based conferences.

Academic qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education (University of Wolverhampton, March 2015)
  • Ph.D. in History (Lancaster University, November 2006)
  • M.A. (with Distinction) in History (Open University, December 2000)
  • B.A. (2.1 Honours) in Ancient History & Archaeology  (University of Birmingham, July 1996)
  • Diploma in European Humanities (Open University, December 1993)

Teaching interests

Module Leader for 6CJ007 Criminology and Criminal Justice Research Project, and teaching on several undergraduate modules, including 3GK007 Wolverhampton and its People, 4CJ002 Criminal Justice, 5CJ006 Punishment & Society and 6CJ002 Prisons and Prisoners.

Corporate and community engagement

I have been a Committee member of the Black Country Society for over two decades (and was Editor of the Society’s highly-respected quarterly journal The Blackcountryman between 2001 and 2005). I have also co-organised several joint events between the Society and local universities in the form of Day Schools and conferences.  A Day School event is currently being planned with the Black Country Society and the University of Wolverhampton for November 2017, as part of the WWI centennial commemorations. I have facilitated several volunteering placements with the Black Country Society for University of Wolverhampton students through the Volunteering in the Community module (4GK004), and also provided one History undergraduate student with a 12-week placement for her History in the Community module (6HS008).

Five students are currently being mentored by me and are currently working on three independent but related projects that will result in monographs, thereby allowing them to gain an invaluable foothold on the publications ladder should they decide to continue with their academic studies. I also regularly participate in knowledge transfer events, giving numerous illustrated talks based around my research each year to local and regional societies including Rotary Club and the Round Table. These talks have enabled me to promote the University of Wolverhampton widely throughout the West Midlands and have led to several enquiries about future study opportunities at the university. In 2015 I was elected President of Wordsley History Society.

I have appeared as a guest interviewee on both national and regional radio programmes; most recently as a guest interviewee on BBC Radio Merseyside programme commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the May Blitz 1941 (3 May 2016).

Professional body membership and roles

  • Member of the Social History Society (2016)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2015)
  • Director of University of Wolverhampton branch of SOLON Research Network (2015)
  • Member of PUNCS (Plymouth University Nineteenth Century Studies) Research Network (2015)
  • Member of Law Research Centre, University of Wolverhampton (2013)
  • Member of the Centre of Applied Social Research (CASR), University of Wolverhampton (2013)
  • Member of Our Criminal Past Research Network (2012)
  • Honorary Research Fellow, Keele University (2010)
  • Member of British Crime Historians Research Network (2010)
  • Member of the Police History Society (2005)
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (2008)

Research interests

I have recently completed research into Victorian white-collar crime and its relationship with public and private respectability; this research led to a journal article ‘Public and private perceptions of Victorian respectability: ‘Public and private perceptions of Victorian respectability – the life and times of a ‘Gentleman Lag’, in HMP Prison Service Journal no. 232 (Special Edition, Small Voices, July 2017): 46-52.

I also recently completed research into the career of the first Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Henry Goddard, who was a former Bow Street Runner (the results of this research were recently published: ‘“The Best Chief Constable in the Kingdom”? Recruitment and retention successes and problems with early English Chief Constables’, in K. Stevenson, D. J. Cox, and I. Channing (eds.), Leading the Police: A History of Chief Constables 1835-2017 (Routledge/SOLON, ISBN 978-1138217249): 33-52

I am currently a lead researcher in a pilot research project entitled ‘Moral Regulation in the Maritime Towns (Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse) 1880-1940’. This pilot project (which involves former colleagues from the University of Plymouth together with the Devon Police Heritage Archive) is designed to identify key research themes and questions to develop a more extensive research investigation into the policing and moral regulation of everyday offending and crime. This has led to a major ESRC grant application for which we are awaiting the results.

I am co-editing (with Dr John McDaniel and Dr Karlie Stonard) a book entitled The Development of Transnational Policing Past, Present and Future, which is to be published by Routledge in Spring 2019, and am also co-authoring (with Dr John McDaniel) a book entitled The History of the King’s Messengers 1782-1914: A Malignant Curiosity, to be published by Routledge in Spring 2020.

PhD/MPhil supervision


Second Supervisor:

David Moore, BA, MA (Plymouth University)MPhil thesis entitled ‘The Times and the Manchester Guardian’s editorial perspectives on the Irish Home Rule and the adoption of referendum debates during the British constitutional crisis December 1910-August 1911’ Awarded 6 October 2017, University of Plymouth


Second Supervisor:
Christopher Smith JP, BA (Hons), MSc (Birmingham University)
PhD thesis entitled ‘Conditional bail - is it fit for purpose? An investigation into the operation and effectiveness of conditional bail granted in magistrates' courts in England and Wales’
Part-time – expected completion date 2018

Second Supervisor:
Claire Jones BA (Hons), MA (University of Wolverhampton)
PhD thesis entitled ‘To what extent do the 2014-18 Centenary Commemorations completed within the Black Country region confirm or deny the British Social Memory of the Great War 1914-18, making reference to Battlefield Tourism and Education?’Part-time – expected completion date 2021

Second Supervisor:
Shivanee Nithiyananthnan, LLM International Business Law (University of East London)
PhD thesis entitled ‘The use of torture by the police in Sri Lanka: A post-civil war analysis on the limited use of torture as an exercise of state power’
Full time – expected completion date 2020

I am happy to consider acting as Second Supervisor on future PhDs – please do not hesitate to contact me.

External academic roles

  • External examiner for the University of Tasmania: Julia C. Clark BA (Hons) (University of Tasmania), PhD thesis entitled ‘Through a Glass, Darkly: the Camera, the Convict and the Criminal Life’ (University of Tasmania, awarded December 2015)
  • External examiner for the University of Melbourne: Matt Bach, BA (Hons) (University of Melbourne), PhD thesis entitled ‘Combating Recidivist Crime in London: the Origins and Effectiveness of Legislation against Habitual Criminals, 1869 to 1895’ (University of Melbourne, awaiting award following minor modifications)
  • External Subject Specialist Consultant for the revalidation of the English, History and Creative Writing Undergraduate Portfolio, Edge Hill University, 2016
  • Director of SOLON (Society, Order, Law, Offences, Notoriety) Research Network (University of Wolverhampton Branch), 2015-date
  • University of Wolverhampton liaison representative for the Supporting Offenders through Restoration Inside (S.O.R.I.) restorative justice programme, HMP Featherstone, 2014-2016
  • Honorary Research Fellow, Keele University (since 2010)
  • Member of ‘Our Criminal Past’ Research Network (since 2012)
  • Member of British Crime Historians Network (since 2010)

Selected publications


Crime, Regulation and Control During The Blitz [with P. Adey and B. Godfrey] (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, ISBN 9781441159953)

Victorian Convicts: 100 Criminal Lives [with H. Johnston and B. Godfrey] (Pen & Sword True Crime, 2016, ISBN 1473823730)

Public Indecency in England 1857-1960: ‘A Serious and Growing Evil’ [with K. Stevenson, J. Rowbotham and C. Harris] (SOLON Explorations in Crime and Criminal Justice Histories series, Routledge (2015)

Crime in England, 1688-1815 (History of Crime in the UK and Ireland series, Routledge, 2014, ISBN 9780415501835)

Policing the Factory: Theft, Private Policing and the Law in Modern England 1777-1968 [with B. Godfrey] (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, ISBN 9781441107527)

‘A Certain Share of Low Cunning’: A History of the Bow Street Runners, 1792-1839 (1st edition Willan Publishing, 2010, ISBN 9781843927730, 2nd edition Routledge, 2012, ISBN 9780415627511)

Serious Offenders: A Historical Study of Habitual Criminals [with S. Farrall & B. Godfrey] (Clarendon Criminology Series, Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 9780199594665)

Criminal Lives: Family Life, Employment, and Offending [with B. Godfrey & S. Farrall] (Clarendon Criminology Series, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 9780199217205)

Book chapters

‘“Hand-in-glove with the penny-a-liners”? – the Bow Street ‘Runners’ in factual and fictional narratives’, Chapter Seven in D. S. Nash and A. Kilday (eds.), Law, Crime and Deviance since 1700: Micro studies in the history of crime (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, ISBN 09781472585288)

‘On Licence: understanding punishment, recidivism and desistance in penal policy, 1853-1945’ [with H. Johnston, B. Godfrey and J. Turner], in V. Miller and J. Campbell (eds.), Transnational Penal Cultures: New Perspectives on Discipline, Punishment and Desistance (SOLON Explorations in Crime and Criminal Justice Histories series, Routledge, 2014): 184-201

‘“The most troublesome woman in Crewe”: investigating gender, sentencing and the late Victorian English lower courts’ [with S. D’Cruze and B. Godfrey], in E. Avdela, S. D’Cruze and J. Rowbotham (eds.), Problems of Crime and Violence in Europe, 1780-2000: Essays in Criminal Justice (Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, ISBN 0773438157): 237-80 

Peer-reviewed journal articles

‘“Trying to get a good one”: Bigamy offences in England and Wales 1850-1950’, Plymouth Law & Criminal Justice Review vol. 4 (Autumn 2011): 1-32

“‘The wolves let loose at Wolverhampton”: a study of the South Staffordshire Election Riots, May 1835’, Law, Crime and History vol. 1 issue 2 (2011): 1-31

“‘The habitual eccentricities of the Solons of Staffordshire”: an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the Parliamentary Enquiry into the chaining of Mrs Eliza Price of Brierley Hill, July 1845’, Plymouth Law & Criminal Justice Review vol. 3 (Autumn 2010): 109-127

‘The Role of Historically Embedded Structures in Processes of Criminal Reform: A Structural Criminology of Desistance’ [co-authored with S. Farrall and B. Godfrey], Theoretical Criminology 13 (1), February 2009: 79-104

‘The “Last Fleet”: Crime, Reformation, and Punishment in Western Australia after 1868’ [co-authored with B. Godfrey], Australia and New Zealand Journal of Criminology vol. 41 no. 2 (Summer 2008): 236-58