Speech delivered at the 80th birthday party

Richard Garside
Wednesday, 20 July 2011

At the anniversary party for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, at the IET London overlooking the Thames, Richard Garside gave a speech to the gathered audience to celebrate the past 80 years of CCJS.

On the 22nd July 1931 a group of concerned citizens met at a flat in Primrose Hill to establish an organisation. The purpose of this organisation 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.

That organisation - the 'Association for the Scientific Treatment of Criminals' - was shortly to rename itself the 'Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency' and, in 1948, the 'Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency'. In 1999 it adopted its current name: the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

As we mark this our 80th year I want pay tribute to the vision and pioneering spirit of our founders: Grace Pailthorpe; Maurice Hamblin-Smith; David Eder; Edward Glover; James Hadfield; Ernest Jensen; Emanuel Miller, to name but a few.

I also want to celebrate the contribution of those members and supporters, trustees and staff, past and present whose collective endeavour has sustained us through the years and brought us to this important landmark.

As we mark our 80th year we note the end of old partnerships and celebrate the beginning of new ones. Last year we ended a near 30 year strategic partnership with King's College London.

This year we are approaching the first anniversary of an exciting new strategic partnership with The Open University. There is a strong fit between The Open University's commitment to opening up educational opportunities to all and our commitment to research and policy analysis in the public interest. I am confident that this partnership will stand the test of time.

As we celebrate our 80th year we also mark another important landmark in our history. After operating for many years out of borrowed offices we now operate from our own offices in Vauxhall, offices we bought earlier this year. This gives us a solid foundation as an organisation from which to build. We have ambitious plans to develop our new home as a hub of activity both for us and for all like-minded organisations and individuals over the coming years.

So what does the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies stand for in 2011? We are motivated by:

  • A concern for social justice, grounded in rigorous research and the evidence-base.
  • A belief in the power of big ideas to shape and foster change, matched by a practical concern to put these ideas into action.
  • An optimism about the possibilities for real and lasting change, tempered by a realism in knowing that meaningful change is never certain and is often achieved over years and decades rather than weeks and months.
  • A commitment to make trusted interventions, in the public interest, free from political or other corrupting influences.

Our approach is distinctive and innovative.

Our focus is on social harm, not crime. Much that is harmful is not necessarily criminal. Our starting point is the full range of social harms, not the narrow range of those currently defined as crime.

Our concern is more with scrutinising the workings and impact of the criminal justice process; less with working for the reform of the criminal justice system, though we have a healthy respect for reformist endeavours.

Our interest is in multi-agency, holistic solutions to social problems rather than in finding new ways for the criminal justice system to solve problems it is generally ill-equipped to handle.

Our connections with those in the worlds of research and policy, practice and campaigning are very important to us. We all of us have a small part to play in shaping a better world. No organisation, however influential, however big, can embody this responsibility alone.

In other words, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is much more than the sum of its individual activities. It is a movement sustained by shared values, commitments and knowledge; expressed through its many initiatives, partnerships and collaborations.

We value the active contribution all of you in this room have made to our work, as well as the contributions made by those who could not join us tonight. If you want to play a less active role in the coming period do speak to me afterwards. I'll talk you out of it! If you want to play a more active role in helping to shape our future than you currently do, we want to hear from you.

  • If you are not currently a member, please do consider becoming one.
  • If you do not receive our monthly email bulletin, do sign up. It will keep you updated on our plans and keep you abreast of developments across a broad range of criminal justice and social policy matters.
  • If you would like to write an article for our magazine Criminal Justice Matters, or submit a blog for our website, we would be keen to hear your ideas.
  • If you have an idea for an event, a report, a research project, a collaboration, a partnership, we want to speak to you.
  • Come along to our future events. We are delighted that Susie Orbach has agreed to be our Eve Saville lecture speaker this November. I hope to see many of you there.
  • Follow us on twitter and Facebook.
  • You may even like to make a donation to our anniversary appeal.

We will be writing to you all next week with more details on these and other ways that we might be able to build our relationship with each other.

As we celebrate our 80th birthday we acknowledge all those who have contributed so much. And we look to the future, strong in the belief that our best days are yet to come.

Finally, I would like to thank all of you here - members, supporters, friends, trustees, staff - for coming tonight to celebrate our birthday. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies thrives today because of your support and that of all those others who could not be with us tonight.
Please accept tonight's event as our birthday present to you.

So can I ask you all to raise your glasses to toast the success of the Centre in its first 80 years and wish it a prosperous and successful future.