DMP Arrest Books now available on-line

Published in Issue 6 (November/December 2016), News, Volume 24


The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) Arrest or Prisoners’ Books for 1905–7 and 1911–18 are amongst the most valuable new records to come to light from the revolutionary era. The collection comprises four large, leather-bound, double-ledger volumes containing handwritten entries that record the details of over 30,000 people arrested during these years. There is a gap in the dates between the first volume, listing those arrested from 1 April 1905 to 1 January 1908, and the remainder of the volumes, running from 1 January 1911 to 30 September 1918.

The DMP was established in 1836, at the same time as the Royal Irish Constabulary, but unlike the latter organisation was not disbanded at the end of the War of Independence. Instead, it was absorbed into the Garda Síochána na hÉireann in 1924–5. At the time of its incorporation into the Garda it was responsible for twenty DMP stations in Dublin City and the southern townships, located in Blackrock, the Bridewell (Chancery Lane), Clarendon Street, Clontarf, College Street, Dalkey, Donnybrook, Fitzgibbon Street, Irishtown, Kevin Street, Kill o’ the Grange, Kilmainham, Kingstown, Lad Lane, Mountjoy, Newmarket, Rathmines, Store Street and Terenure. It is thought that the station sergeant in the Bridewell, which adjoined the Police Magistrates’ Courts, was responsible for collating the records from the DMP stations. The alleged crimes range from murder to robbery of sweet machines, and those arrested range in age from eight to 80. The passing of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) on 8 August 1914 created an important new series of offences aimed at political subversives but used sparingly before 1917.

Above: A colourised postcard of ‘ONE OF THE “GIANT” [DMP] POLICE, O’CONNELL STREET, DUBLIN’, shortly before the force was absorbed into the Garda Síochána in 1924–5.

Above: A colourised postcard of ‘ONE OF THE “GIANT” [DMP] POLICE, O’CONNELL STREET, DUBLIN’, shortly before the force was absorbed into the Garda Síochána in 1924–5.

Besides describing the type of offences committed, whether ‘ordinary’ or ‘political’ crimes, the collection says a great deal about the type of people arrested, their gender balance, social problems in the city, sentencing policies of the police magistrates, and how events such as the 1913 Lockout and the Easter Rising affected different groups in the community. For instance, these records confirm that the majority of people arrested during the 1913 Lockout were workers rather than ‘the foul reserves of the slums’, as alleged by the Irish Catholic and other newspapers owned by William Martin Murphy. They also show a sharp rise in arrests of deserters and absentees from the British armed forces after the First World War broke out, an issue ignored in practically every account of the period. On the other hand, the large-scale arrests of women in the aftermath of the Easter Rising for looting in the city centre conform to the traditional narrative and correlate to areas of the city with widespread deprivation. The increasing incidence of public order offences and arrests under DORA from 1917 onwards increasingly show people not traditionally associated with criminal behaviour but more representative of the wider community, while the rising incidence of juvenile crime is a common feature across cities in wartime Europe. The information in these volumes serves, therefore, to provide new perspectives on life in Dublin during a time of war and revolution.

One volume, number 4, covering the latter end of 1913 to the end of 1915, has been in the continuous possession of the DMP and then the Garda Museum and Archives. The other three volumes were probably discarded when the DMP was disbanded in 1924 and were held by a private individual or individuals, before being discarded again in 2015. They were retrieved in the north Dublin inner city by a group of community activists who contacted author, journalist and trade union activist Pádraig Yeates, through Michael Finn, a retired detective superintendent of the Garda Síochána. Pádraig Yeates arranged, with the permission of the group, to have all the volumes digitised by Eneclann. The group subsequently agreed to hand the volumes over to SIPTU on two conditions: one was that a donation be made to support a local youth project, and the second was that the information contained in them would go on-line, free to the public. SIPTU agreed to make a substantial donation to the project and Dr Katherine O’Donnell of the Justice for Magdalenes campaign put SIPTU in touch with UCD Library, which undertook to provide an open-access on-line digital publishing platform for the volumes.

It is hoped to launch a crowd-sourcing project in the near future to transcribe the contents of these records and make them fully searchable on-line. Meanwhile, there is an index at the back of each volume listing everyone charged alphabetically by his or her surname, along with the relevant page number. The volumes can be viewed at


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