Criminals as young as TEN pose with name and date of offense in mugshots from the 1870s

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Ghostly mugshots have been unearthed showing Victorian child criminals as young as TEN who were imprisoned for petty crimes more than 145 years ago.

The fascinating capture shots reveal real-life Artful Dodgers and Oliver Twists who were held for offenses such as stealing dresses, food, underwear and coal.

Believed to be among some of the world’s oldest mugshots, they show how the youngest criminals in Victorian Birmingham face harsh justice.

The images date from the 1870s, when photography was still in its infancy. They show baby-face delinquents smartly dressed in cardigans and oversized jackets.

The collection was unearthed in the archives of the West Midlands Police and is now on display in their museum in Sparkhill, Birmingham.

The fascinating capture shots reveal real-life Artful Dodgers and Oliver Twists who were held for offenses such as stealing dresses, food, underwear and coal

Ghostly mugshots have been unearthed showing Victorian child criminals as young as TEN who were imprisoned for petty crimes more than 145 years ago. Left: Among the youth rogue’s gallery is Charles Lambourne, who was just 10 when he first appeared on the police records. He can be seen above in his second appearance, wearing a 16-year-old striped tie. Right: Charles Paul, 13, who squeezed six pairs of his father’s drawers in 1876, also featured in the black and white photos

The young street boys stared straight at the camera, holding blackboards with the date of their offense and their names in chalk.

Birmingham was the first British police force to photograph criminals and shot their first crook in 1853.

Pictured in the gallery is Charles Lambourne, who was just 10 when he first appeared on the police records.

He was sent to prison for seven days in 1876 and flogged for stealing a dress from his father.

Lambourne reappears on June 12, 1882, aged 16, this time wearing a striped tie.

He was jailed for a month for stealing 18 shillings and a watch from his master.

Believed to be among some of the world's oldest mugshots, they show how the youngest criminals in Victorian Birmingham face harsh justice.  The images date from the 1870s, when photography was still in its infancy.  They show baby-face delinquents smartly dressed in cardigans and oversized jackets.  Above: William Harris stole a bicycle and was sent to jail for 14 days

Thomas Giblin stole coal and went to jail for two weeks

Believed to be among some of the world’s oldest mugshots, they show how the youngest criminals in Victorian Birmingham face harsh justice. The images date from the 1870s, when photography was still in its infancy. They show baby-faced offenders neatly dressed in cardigans and oversized jackets. Left: William Harris stole a bicycle and was sent to prison for 14 days. Right: Thomas Giblin stole coal and went to jail for two weeks

Charles Paul, 13, who snapped six pairs of his father’s drawers in 1876, is also featured in the black-and-white photographs.

The teen was sent to prison for 14 days and then spent five years in a penitentiary – a Victorian version of a young offender’s institution.

More images show stony-faced youth in the Moor Street Public Office in Birmingham in 1876.

William Harris stole a bicycle and was sent to prison for 14 days.

Joseph Haynes’s crime has not been recorded, but he was sent to prison for 21 days and to a penitentiary for four years.

William Walton was sent to prison for 14 days and a penitentiary for five years for stealing beef.

Thomas Giblin and John Welch were both convicted of stealing coal and sentenced to one month and 14 days in prison, respectively.

They were then both taken to a penitentiary for five years.

Charles Paul, 13, who stole six pairs of drawers from his father in 1876, is also featured in the black-and-white photographs.

William Walton was sent to prison for 14 days and a penitentiary for five years for stealing beef

Lambourne was just 10 when he first appeared on the police records, in 1876. The teenager was jailed for 14 days and then five years in a penitentiary, which resembled a Victorian institution for young offenders. William Walton (right) was sent to prison for 14 days and a penitentiary for five years for stealing beef

Corinne Brazier, the West Midlands Police Heritage Manager, said she spent hours cataloging and sorting the archive.

She added: ‘Victorian criminal law has a strong focus on punishment – long prison terms for minor offences, reformists and hard labour.

“As the country moved away from transportation and the death penalty, a significant number of people were imprisoned, including many children.

“Many of those kids were first-time offenders and probably completed their incarceration tough and streetwise.

“If the desired effect was to ‘scare them’, it often fell short, with many young offenders repeatedly going to court.

“We’ve dug into our archives to find some of the youngest offenders facing the harsh Victorian justice system.

Joseph Haynes's crime has not been recorded, but he was sent to prison for 21 days and to a penitentiary for four years

John Welch was convicted of stealing coal and sentenced to one month in prison

Joseph Haynes’s crime has not been recorded, but he was sent to prison for 21 days and to a penitentiary for four years. John Welch was convicted of stealing coal and sentenced to one month in prison

‘The West Midlands Police Museum may well have the oldest surviving photographs of the police in the world – some dating back to the 1850s.

“Suspects would be marched to a new photo studio that had opened down the street where they would have their picture taken.

“In the 1870s, it was legislated that all police forces were required to take photographs of people in custody, and this is when the Birmingham Police Collection’s first ledger begins.

“These images show some sad characters — all in black, many in tattered clothing with a chalkboard in front of the reference number identifying their record, which also identified the year the photo was taken.”

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