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Apologies if this information has been posted before, but there is some interesting background information in the link below regarding the history of why and how the UK Census was originally set up and changed over the decades.
Interestingly, towards the bottom of the article there is a list of sources/books for further reading should you require more detailed information. One of the books:
Census: The Expert Guide: Tools, Techniques by Peter Christian & David Annal
is available to purchase and download in KINDLE format which means that unlike a secondhand book the supply is unlimited.
My interest was sparked as over the years I have seen Census records showing people in hospital or other institutions at the time a Census was taken. However I cannot remember stumbling across any Census pages showing Prison Inmates. Were prison inmates accounted for in the Census? Could this be why I cannot find a particular person?
Hope you find the information interesting.
The sipmple answer is YES.
Search Census, Optional Keyword Prison Inmate. There are over 33000 answers. You can then single out each census year to get the number in each. Most are in 1921, but then what happens if you modify the search term?
In the 1841 census the Sheffield Gaol gave the full names of the prisoners, and described them all by their respective trades prefaced by the word "debtor"