1. Introduction

This is the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies' Strategic Plan, covering the three year period from July 2016 to June 2019. It has been developed by the Centre’s trustees and staff, in consultation with its members and informed by external analysis and research.

It sets out:

  • Our purpose as an organisation.
  • Our analysis of the operating context in which we will be working.
  • Our assessment of our organisational strengths and unique qualities.
  • Our priorities over the three years of this Strategic Plan.
  • The challenges we think we might face along the way.

2. Our purpose

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is an independent educational charity that advances public understanding of crime and criminal justice. Through partnership and coalition-building, advocacy and research, we work to inspire social justice solutions to the problems society faces, so that many responses that criminalise and punish are no longer required.

During the three years of this Strategic Plan our staff will pursue a particular focus on criminal justice as an interconnected set of institutions that can have harmful effects.

3. The operating context

  • The UK-wide austerity programme and slow economic growth are expected to continue until at least the end of this decade. This means ongoing social stress and personal adversity for millions of people. The experience of violence and other social harms is unequally concentrated among the already socially vulnerable. Much is hidden from view, ignored or the subject of tokenistic and largely irrelevant policies.
  • The United Kingdom criminal justice landscape has undergone a transformation, which has taken a different shape in different jurisdictions. Within each jurisdiction, a variety of governance structures and delivery models have created a complex mix of institutions and policies that requires detailed analysis, fresh thinking and new approaches to engagement and influence.
  • There is a disconnect between research and practice knowledge on the one hand, and criminal justice policy-making and related policy areas on the other.
  • Within the voluntary sector, some organisations have closed or face an uncertain future, due in part to a changing funding environment. This changed environment also carries with it the risk of incorporation and loss of independence.
  • The decline in public trust in the motives of politicians and public bodies is contributing to a disenchantment with traditional political processes and a growing gap between the governing elites and ordinary people. New forms of citizen activism and the ever-changing social media landscape offer different avenues for partnership building, impact and influence.
  • Traditional funding models based around grant income, publishing, and membership schemes are changing or diminishing. Among grant funders, a greater premium is being placed on demonstrating impact and influence over mere presence and staying power. Crowd-funding, passive income streams and cause-related donor schemes are growing in significance.

4. Our strengths

  • Our work demonstrates that we have distinctive things to say about crime, criminal justice and social harms, which are grounded in evidence, practice, theory and principle.
  • We have a UK-wide perspective on developments in criminal justice and related policies, rather than narrow focus on any one UK jurisdiction.
  • We are committed to expressing our positions confidently, with a willingness to speak truth to power and make the hidden and ignored known.
  • We are capable of connecting up currently disconnected areas of practice, research, knowledge and theory into new and creative partnerships to influence and foster change.
  • We have a set of solid financial and institutional foundations upon which we can build and develop.

5. Our priorities

In our last Strategic Plan, we launched our strategic project – Justice Matters – as a way of focusing our activities and achieving greater impact. During the period of this Strategic Plan we will build on this commitment, with a sharpened focus on criminal justice as an interconnected set of institutions that can have harmful effects: on individuals, their families, communities and society more generally. Rather than being a discrete project, as Justice Matters has been, our focus on criminal justice as harmful will act as a golden thread running through our work.

We have a track record of developing challenging, relevant ideas, informed by research and practice evidence, underpinned by clear analysis, and grounded in values and principles. As an educational charity, this is work we want to bring to a wide variety of audiences: in practice and policy-making; in politics and in the media; in research and the academy; among communities of interest and members of the general public. During the three years of this Strategic Plan we are committing ourselves to invest time, energy and resources into communicating with these audiences in a consistent, coherent and sustained manner.

6. The challenges we will face

  • Turning the big and challenging ideas we have into propositions that have a vitality and relevance for our target audiences. Placing a premium on the quality of our work, over its quantity. Devoting the time and energy to communicating these ideas in a sustained and consistent manner.
  • Striking the right balance between developing collaborations with a range of partners and maintaining a focus on our core priorities. Ensuring that the partnerships we develop make a qualitative contribution to our work, rather than diluting it.
  • Developing and diversifying our sources of income to ensure we have a stable and sustainable financial platform from which to operate.
  • Remaining light on our feet – so we can embrace new challenges – while ensuring that we develop and scale up in a sustainable fashion.