New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive
The images in the archive document, in all their gritty and at times confronting detail, Sydney, Australia’s ‘Sin City’ – its people, their misfortunes and their crimes. Sydney Living Museums now shares images from this collection through exhibitions, books and online stories.
The Collection: New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive
Nestled between Sydney Harbour and the city skyscrapers is a squat cluster of sandstone buildings known today as the Justice & Police Museum. Occupying what was once one of the colony’s busiest legal complexes, the museum cares for an eclectic collection of material relating to Sydney’s criminal and policing history. This includes the remarkable New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive.
The archive’s negatives
The New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive contains photographic negatives in several formats and sizes created between around 1910 and 1964. These negatives are both a record of how New South Wales Police used photography and a reflection of how photographic technology changed during these decades.
Notorious Criminals: A Snapshot of Sinister Sydney
Sydney’s first European settlers were criminals – not an auspicious start – and the city has maintained its reputation for breeding some of the world’s hardest, most malevolent and cunning crooks.
Breakers: the dying art of safebreaking
Sydney was once infested by safebreakers. Some were sophisticated specialists like Richard Reynolds, who used the latest technology to crack safes. Others like Kong Lee had a more slap-dash approach – stuff the safe with explosives and hope the neighbours don’t complain about the noise when it blows.