Policy Papers

History & Policy papers are written by expert historians, based on peer-reviewed research. They offer historical insights into current policy issues ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq, climate change and internet surveillance to family dynamics, alcohol consumption and health reforms. For historians interested in submitting a paper, please see the editorial guidelines.

Currently, 195 papers are freely searchable by theme, author or keyword, with new papers published regularly. Where possible, we publish papers to coincide with relevant policy developments. If you are a policy maker, civil society practitioner or journalist and would like to contact one of our historians, please contact historyandpolicy@kcl.ac.uk.

You can download H&P policy papers directly from the Apple iBooks store to your iPhone, iPad or Mac. We also have an Amazon Kindle version to download to your PC for transfer to your Kindle via USB cable. Please consult your Kindle manual for further details.


Scandal and reform, 1960-2016: can better policies guarantee child welfare in secure custody?

Ben Jarman explores the history of child welfare in the youth justice system to show that overall culture is as important as specific safeguards - a modern emphasis on policy compliance may come at the expense of questioning policy effectiveness.

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Poverty in the Divided Kingdom

Professor Pat Thane reviews a century of trends in poverty and wealth inequality in the UK, and finds a situation disturbingly similar to that of the early twentieth century which first galvanised reformers like Booth and Rowntree. This paper marks the publication of her book Divided Kingdom: A History of Britain, 1900 to the Present (CUP 2018)

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Brexit trades and tariffs: challenges and opportunities for agriculture

John Martin and James Bowen look at the history of British agriculture for possible templates for the future - particularly from previous periods of exposure to free trade.

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Why red tape saves lives: the fire service, tombstone legislation and deregulating safety in Britain

Shane Ewen shows how great improvements in public fire safety are at risk in an age where successive governments are on a mission to cut "red tape" - the result is Grenfell. Will we see a return to the reactive "tombstone legislation" of the 1950s to 1970s?

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Creating ‘cruel’ welfare systems: a historical perspective

Katie Barclay reviews the operation of the nineteenth century workhouse and the twentieth century asylum to show that once emotional and financial investment in welfare systems fails, abuse and cruelty become systemically enabled. 

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Promoting democracy in an ancient state: the case of Egypt

In an exciting collaboration, a contemporary historian and an Egyptologist consider the prospects for democracy in one of the world's oldest continuous states in the light of its ancient past.

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The Citizen’s Charter: towards consumer service in central government

Lorenzo Castellani traces the roots of the idea of the citizen as consumer of public services - an idea embraced by successive governments of different political stripes since John Major's Citizen's Charter in the early 1990s.

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Clearing the air: can the 1956 Clean Air Act inform new legislation?

Stephen Mosley explores government response to air pollution past and present - where once chimney smoke threatened the health of the Victorian city dweller, now our biggest problem is exhaust fumes - and points to the lessons today's policy makers can learn from the Clean Air Act, in both drafting and implementation.

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Flexible employment and casual labour: a historical perspective on labour market policy

Ahead of this summer's expected Taylor Report on employment practices in the modern economy, Noel Whiteside examines the long history of flexible employment and casual labour, and the various nineteenth- and twentieth-century attempts to grapple with the issues.

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The internet and democracy: an historical perspective

Andrew Blick places the history of the internet in the context of other histories of disruptive technologies and looks at the lessons for policy makers.

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About Us


H&P is an expanding Partnership based at King's College London and the University of Cambridge, and additionally supported by the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leeds, the Open University, and the University of Sheffield.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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