The Archives has a large collection of police reports, from the period 1858-1930, recovered from a sooty recess in the roof-space of the Sheriff Court in Lerwick. In most districts in Scotland these records have not survived.
Policemen throughout the islands sent reports to the procurator fiscal (the chief prosecutor) about alleged theft, breaches of the peace and anti-social behaviour that had come to their notice. They contain details about every aspect of life in the islands.
The procurator fiscal decided if the evidence in the police report was strong enough to make further enquiries. He might then take a ‘precognition’, a series of witness-statements about the alleged events. The Archives has many thousands of these documents as well. If sufficient evidence was forthcoming that a crime had been committed, the fiscal sent on the papers to the sheriff, for the case to be dealt with in his court.
The police and procurator fiscal records are closed to the public for 100 years.