Series VPRS 9304
Central Names Index Cards [RECORDS NOT TRANSFERRED]
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series 1945 - 1993
  Series in Custody -
  Contents -
Public Access: Closed
Location: Other
Format of Records:
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1945 - 1993 Victoria Police (including Office of the Chief Commissioner of Police) VA 724
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1945 - cont Victoria Police (including Office of the Chief Commissioner of Police) VA 724
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    How to Use this Series

    This series is not held by the Public Record Office. In 1995 it is still in the custody of the Criminal Records Branch, Victoria Police.


    Central Name Index cards recorded information about persons who were charged with a criminal offence for the future reference of police officers. One card was created for every person charged, regardless of how many times they were charged.

    The cards were first created in 1945. In that year the previous system of creating a docket (a foolscap size file) for every person charged with a criminal offence was modified. From 1945 onwards a card, rather than a docket, was created for each first time offender and details of the person and the offence were recorded on it. Subsequent offences were also noted on the card until the card became full (usually after three or four offences). When nothing more could be added to the card a docket was established, details on the card were copied into the docket and subsequent information was added to the docket.

    Cards in the Central Names Index could serve one of three functions:

    ( As described above, many cards provided a summary of a person's criminal history, showing details of all charges, and the results of charges laid against that person.

    ( If it became necessary to create a docket because no further offences could be added to the card, the card was removed from the index and a replacement card, providing the subject's docket number reference, substituted for it. Thus some cards are simply index cards which refer to a docket.

    ( Some cards were added to the Central Names Index to cross reference alias names to prime names. For example if a person was known to use the name Bill Jones but his criminal record was compiled under the name William Johnston, a card would be inserted under Bill Jones to refer the inquirer to a card for William Johnston. These alias cards were removed from the Central Names Index after 1989 when the introduction of a computerised name index made them unnecessary.

    Information Collection Process

    The Information Bureau received reports of crime incidents from police officers. Some of these are held by the Public Record Office, refer to VPRS 2985 Crime Reports. In instances where a person was charged as a result of the incident, details of the charges, as shown on the crime report, were recorded on the person's card (if they were recorded on a card, or if it was their first offence) or within their docket (if they were recorded on a docket).

    The reporting police officer would often submit other reports providing a physical and character description of the person and a description of the circumstances surrounding the incident which led to the charges. Such reports were known as antecedent reports. Whilst a person was recorded on a card only, antecedents and other reports submitted by police officers were filed in various sections of the Information Bureau. If it became necessary to create a docket, these papers were gathered together and formed the new docket.

    When the charges laid against a person were heard at court, details of the court verdict and orders were also forwarded to the Information Bureau by the police prosecutor or by other prosecuting bodies such as Department of Public Prosecutions. These were added to the person's card or recorded within their docket.

    Information Content

    Each card generally records the following details:

    ( the subject's name
    ( any alias names
    ( date of birth
    ( the card reference number (see below)
    ( a fingerprint classification reference
    ( references to photographs of the subject
    ( a physical description of the person including their height, build, complexion, hair colour and eye colour
    ( the area in which the subject lives (eg Oakleigh, Victoria)
    ( occupation

    If the card records the person's criminal record, rather than being simply an index card, details of offences for which the person was charged were recorded on the back of the card. The details included:

    ( date of arrest/summons (the word "process" is used to refer to either of these actions)
    ( the name, number and station of the police member responsible
    ( the charges laid
    ( the subject's address at the time charges were laid
    ( details of the court hearing relating to the charges, including the name of the court, date of hearing and result
    ( whether the subject was fingerprinted when arrested
    ( the names of any associates with whom the offence was alleged to have been committed
    ( references to crime reports and antecedents.

    How the Records are Arranged [System of Arrangement and Control]

    Cards were filed in alphabetical order of the subject's surname, then by given names. In some instances common surnames that could be spelled in different ways were interfiled. For instance all cards for the surnames DONELLY, DONNELLY, DONNOLLY etc are filed in one sequence, in order of given name. Marker cards within the index highlight these segregations.

    Cards for juvenile offenders were not interfiled with adult offenders but rather were filed at the back of the index drawer in which, according to the alphabetical sequence for adults, they belonged. If a juvenile continued to offend after the age of eighteen his or her card would be removed from the juvenile sequence and filed in the main sequence. If a juvenile did not continue to re-offend, his or her card was generally removed from the Central Names Index ten years after the last offence.

    Each card is numbered, although the number is not relevant to retrieval as the cards are filed alphabetically. The numbering system is complex:

    ( Every crime report received at the Information Bureau was given a reference comprised of an alphabetic character and a number of up to four digits. The letter was the first letter of the offender's surname and the number was allocated sequentially within each letter of the alphabet and within each year. For example the one thousand four hundred and ninth crime report for offenders with surnames commencing with "P", received in a particular year, would be numbered P1409.

    ( If the offender had not previously offended and therefore did not already have a card in the Central Names Index, this alphanumeric crime report number became the number for the new card. From 1961, the card was prefixed with an additional alphabetic character which indicated the year in which the card was created. A table indicating the use of these year codes appears below. Thus a card numbered CP1409 was the one thousand four hundred and ninth card created in 1963 for offenders with surnames starting with "P".

    Subsequent Recordkeeping Systems

    In 1989 a Computerised Name Index became available to police officers via computer terminals in their stations. A large data entry project recorded the names of all offenders (including all known alias names) ever recorded in the manual system and their card or docket reference number. This allowed police members to ascertain whether or not a person was recorded at the Information Bureau, however it did not provide any further information about their criminal history. Thus the Central Names Index ceased to be used as an index and as an alias name cross referencing system, but continued to record the criminal history of persons who were not recorded on a docket. Most alias name reference cards were removed from the Central Names Index after 1989.

    In 1993 Victoria Police introduced LEAP (Law Enforcement Assistance Program), an extensive relational electronic database which replaced the manual system. Information about crime incidents, charges and results of charges (along with other major areas of operational information) are now entered directly onto LEAP and are available to members via computer terminals in most police stations. Most of the information recorded on cards up to 1993 has not yet been recorded on LEAP (as at 1995), however it is intended to gradually supersede the manual system by capturing on LEAP information that is currently stored manually. Until this process is completed police officers will continue to make extensive use of Central Name Index Cards in their investigations.

    Year Codes

    A 1961
    B 1962
    C 1963
    D 1964
    E 1965
    F 1966
    G 1967
    H 1968
    J 1969
    K 1970
    L 1971
    M 1972
    P 1973
    R 1974
    S 1975
    T 1976
    W 1977
    Y 1978
    Z 1979
    AA 1980
    AB 1981
    C 1982
    D 1983
    E 1984
    F 1985
    G 1986
    H 1987
    J 1988
    K 1989
    L 1990
    M 1991
    P 1992

  • Function / Content

  • Recordkeeping System

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1933 - 1993 Dockets [Offender Histories] (RETURNED TO AGENCY 2018) VPRS 9303
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