The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies was established in July 1931 as the 'Association for the Scientific Treatment of Criminals'.
It was renamed the 'Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency' in July 1932, and the 'Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency' in 1951. It adopted its current name – the 'Centre for Crime and Justice Studies' – in 1999.
The aim of the early founders of what became the Centre was to promote the notion, backed by scientific research, that there were better ways of dealing with offenders than prison and to translate this notion into action. This aspiration was crystallised in the first Annual Report, published in 1932, as follows:
- To initiate and promote scientific research into the causes and prevention of crime.
- To establish observation centres and clinics for diagnosis and treatment of delinquency and crime.
- To coordinate and consolidate existing scientific work in the prevention of delinquency and crime.
- To secure cooperation between all bodies engaged in similar work in all parts of the world, and ultimately to promote an international organisation.
- To assist and advise through the medium of scientific experts the judicial and magisterial bench, the hospitals and government departments in the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of suitable cases.
- To promote and assist in promoting educational and training facilities for students in the scientific study of delinquency and crime.
- To promote discussion and to educate the opinion of the general public on these subjects by publications and by other means.
In its early years ISTD was strongly oriented to psychoanalytical approaches to crime and criminality. Significant early figures included Dr Grace Pailthorpe, Dr Edward Glover, Professor Sigmund Freud, Professor Carl Jung and Doctor Otto Rank. The Portman Clinic, now part of the NHS, was set up by ISTD in 1933 to treat delinquent and criminal patients through psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
After the second world war ISTD was at the forefront of developments in the emerging discipline of Criminology in the UK. In 1953 it set up 'The Scientific Group for the Discussion of Delinquency Problems' as a forum for academic debate and analysis of crime and criminality. The Group became independent of ISTD in 1955 and in 1961 adopted its current name of 'The British Society of Criminology'.
In 1950, ISTD published the first issue of the British Journal of Delinquency. In 1960 the Journal's name was changed to the British Journal of Criminology, reflecting, in Edward Glover's words, 'the long distance policy of the ISTD to effect the extension of research into various non-criminal fields of observation'. The journal is now one of the foremost English language peer review journals in its subject area.
Today, the Centre operates as an independent educational charity that advances public understanding of crime and criminal justice.