Birmingham City Police was the first force in the UK to use photography to record an image of each convicted criminal. This started way back in 1850 and that time the force did not have its own photographer. They overcame the problem by taking the criminals to a professional photographer’s studio in the city. This means that, in the earliest images, the criminals were dressed in fine clothes and often posing in posh armchairs or near potted plants. The pictures came back to the police station in pretty little silver or gold frames.
In the 1870s, the government made a rule that police forces should take photographs of all of the people that they arrested. Birmingham City Police set up a studio in the Moor Street Public Office. When the central lock-up was opened in Steelhouse Lane, the photography studio was moved there. The official force photographer also took the official portraits of some officers and groups like the force football team.