News Archive

Strathclyde joins with SCCJR to become new Editorial Team for Criminology & Criminal Justice

The Law School is delighted to announce that a team of Strathclyde University academics from Law and Social Work and Social Policy, together with colleagues at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), have been appointed the new Editorial Board of Criminology & Criminal Justice, the official journal of the British Society of Criminology.

Laura Piacentini and Michele Burman will share duties as co-Editors in Chief. Sarah Armstrong is Managing Editor and Colin Atkinson is Editorial Officer. The Editorial Board is completed by: Susan Batchelor, Niall Hamilton-Smith, Genevieve Lennon, Margaret Malloch, Gill McIvor, Fergus McNeill, Susan McVie, Richard Sparks, Beth Weaver, Oona Brooks (Book Reviews co-editor) and Bill Munro (Book Reviews co-editor).

The Co-Editors said: 'We are delighted to bring Criminology & Criminal Justice to Scotland as it marks the first time a major, international criminology journal has been published from a team based in Scottish universities. We bring together leading international and national scholars in the field, and we look forward to continuing the tradition of publishing high quality and dynamic criminological and criminal justice scholarship'."

Law Prof Neil Hutton Appointed to Sentencing Council

Strathclyde Law Professor Neil Hutton is to be appointed to Scotland’s new official Sentencing Council. 

The Council is the new statutory body responsible for preparing guidelines to help ensure a consistent approach to sentencing throughout Scotland. It will also work to raise public awareness and understanding of sentencing practice.

Consisting of 12 members and chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk (currently the Rt Hon Lord Carloway), Prof Hutton will be the only academic from across Scotland’s Universities to be appointed to the Council.

Commenting on the announcement, the Head of Strathclyde Law School, Professor Bryan Clark, commented:

“Professor Hutton’s appointment to the new Sentencing Council is a reflection of his outstanding knowledge, national and international reputation in the field of sentencing research. As the only academic to be appointed to the Council, it demonstrates the extremely high regard in which he is held.  I would like to extend my congratulations to Neil. 

“His appointment is further testament to the leading reputation and expertise of academic staff at the Law School.”

About Professor Neil Hutton

Professor Neil Hutton Neil will hold office on the Council until 2019.
Dr Neil Hutton was educated at the University of Edinburgh (MA 1976, PhD 1983) and has worked at the universities of Edinburgh, Dundee and Victoria University, New Zealand.  He was appointed as a lecturer in the Law School at Strathclyde in 1990, became a  Professor in 2001, and was Dean of the Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences from 2005-2009.

He was a member of the team which designed a Sentencing Information System for the High Court between 1993 and 2002 and was a member of the Sentencing Commission for Scotland between 2003 and 2006.  He has published widely on sentencing and punishment and has been invited to speak in a number of international jurisdictions including Singapore, China, Australia and the USA.

About the new Scottish Sentencing Council

The Council will prepare guidelines, along with their likely effects, for approval by the High Court. In sentencing offenders, the Scottish courts must take these guidelines, if applicable, into account - or give reasons for not doing so.

The Council will also:

  • conduct research into sentencing practice
  • help develop sentencing policy
  • publish information about sentences
  • provide general advice and guidance on sentencing
  • publish guideline judgments (these are court opinions which provide guidance on sentences in similar cases.)

The High Court, new Sheriff Appeal Court and Scottish Ministers can request the Council to prepare or review sentencing guidelines on any matter.

Prof Cyrus Tata Urges Prison Re-think

CLCJ’s Dr Cyrus Tata has urged a fundamental rethink about how imprisonment is used in our society. Writing in the magazine of the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Prof Tata argues that rehabilitation should be excluded as a ground for passing a prison sentence.

“Against a background of increasing cuts to community-based services, and improving prison conditions, more non-dangerous people will end up going to prison. This won’t be because the seriousness of their offending requires it, but because their needs can’t be addressed in the community. This would be folly.  To prevent this unintended consequence, we need, as a society, to spell out that no one should be sent to custody for the specific purpose of rehabilitation.” 

The publication appears as the Scottish Government opens a public consultation on reducing the use of short prison sentences.

Dr Lena Podoletz

Dr. Lena Podoletz, from Eotvos Lorland University, Budapest in Hungary  will be visiting  the School  of Law in August 2015  in order to  undertake work on the electronic monitoring (EM) of offenders in  Scotland,  as part of a larger study on the interplay between formal and informal methods of social control. 

Standards and Ethics in Electronic Monitoring  - Emeritus Professor Mike Nellis 

The Council of Europe has recently published this handbook for professionals involved in the electronic monitoring of offenders. The Council had earlier issued a formal Recommendation on the use of electronic monitoring (February 2014), to help member countries address the human rights issues entailed by  the steady expansion of this penal measure. The Recommendation was followed up by a seminar in November 2014, of which this handbook is the fruit. It also contains the Recommendation itself, and is available online (in French too), as well as hard copy (English only) free of charge.    

Barry and Weaver Win ‘User Voice’ Evaluation

CLCJ academics Dr Monica Barry and Dr Beth Weaver have been awarded a £69,361.00 contract to evaluate a pilot User Voice’s Through-the Prison Gate Custody to Community Council project. The study will use both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the implementation, operation and short-term outcomes of a pilot study of 6 prison-based and 6 probation-based user councils across England adopting the User Voice through-the gate Council Model of prisoner/service user participation/integration.  Dr. Mark Liddle, Prof. Rosie Meeks and Dr Judy Renshaw of ARCS (UK) Ltd, Bethany Schmidt, University of Cambridge, and Prof. Shadd Maruna are also involved.

Law School Professor wins Leverhulme Grant Award

Laura Piacentini, Professor of Criminology, has won a competitive Leverhulme Fellowship (£44,366) for a two-year study titled, ‘A Sociology of Rights Consciousness amongst Russian Prisoners’. This is the first empirical study of its kind that examines the sociological effects of rights mobilization using Russia as a case study. Prison sociology does not explicitly deal with rights consciousness, nor does it interrogate how prisoners interpret troubles in prison, contest conditions, standards and raise grievances about human rights violations, either formally or informally. The patterns of how prisoners understand rights and, how rights consciousness shapes understandings about prison as a place of law, punishment and stigmatization will be explored. The study runs from 2015-2017. 

Law School professor named RSE Fellow

Professor Laura Piacentini is one of five Strathclyde academics to be announced as a new Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Professor Laura Piacentini and her colleagues in the faculties of Engineering and Science are among 53 people elected from a wide range of disciplines whose achievements reflect the RSE’s founding mission of ‘the advancement of learning and useful knowledge’. This, in turn, is closely linked to the principle of ‘useful learning’ on which Strathclyde was established.

Professor Piacentini said: “I am so honoured to be appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It is a privilege to be working closely alongside distinguished scholars from universities across Scotland. I look forward to representing the national and international research and learning that we do here in the Law School and wider research community at Strathclyde.”

New Fellows are elected each year via a rigorous five-stage nomination process. The breadth of the Fellowship, which includes more than 1500 people from Scotland, the rest of the UK and beyond, ensures that the RSE can provide leadership and excellence across all areas of public life.

Professor Brian Clark, Head of the Law School said: On behalf of the Law School I want to congratulate Laura on this achievement. It is truly deserved and testament to her reputation as a world-class scholar in her field.”

The five new Strathclyde fellows are:

  • Professor Laura Piacentini, Strathclyde Law School
  • Professor William Kerr, Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry 
  • Professor Rebecca Lunn, Head of Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Dr Carol Trager-Cowan, Department of Physics
  • Professor Rein Ulijn, Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry

Barry and Weaver win Prison Research

Dr Monica Barry and Dr Beth Weaver of the Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime and Justice have been awarded a £24,779 contract to evaluate a new prison visitor centre at Polmont Young Offenders Institute in Scotland.

Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT), a London-based voluntary organisation working with prisoners and their families, will also be involved in the year long study. With the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service and the Scottish Government as key stakeholders in this initiative, the study is intended to use both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the extent to which the visitor centre increases access to services, advice and information for the families of prisoners and to analyse the effectiveness of the partnership arrangements in place to develop and support the work of the visitor centre.  Both are renowned researchers in the fields of: criminal justice social work; penal theory and policy; desistance; youth justice; and risk. 

Dr Weaver teaches Offender Supervision and Management on the post-graduate course Criminal Justice and Penal Change.

Justice Albie Sachs Honoured

One of the world’s most celebrated legal figures has been awarded an honorary degree by Strathclyde University.

By anyone’s standards Albie Sachs’ life has been extraordinary. As a young lawyer who defended people charged under South Africa’s iniquitous security laws, Sachs himself had to endure prolonged detention, torture. In 1988, while in exile in Mozambique, a bomb was placed under his car by South African security agents causing the loss of his right arm and the sight of one eye.

After recovering from the bomb, he devoted himself to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. Sachs was one of the chief architects of the widely-admired post-apartheid constitution, and a persuasive advocate for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights and an independent judiciary in the new constitution.

Sachs was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to the new Constitutional Court. His judgements have been widely admired as among the most progressive in the world. 

An awarded-winning writer, and brilliant lecturer, Albie Sachs gave CLCJ’s inaugural John Fitzsimons Memorial Lecture in Criminal Law and Justice. 

Justice Sachs is expected to teach on CLCJ’s Master’s in Criminal Justice and Penal Change.

Weaver Leads New Europe-wide Criminal Justice Social Work Education at Strathclyde

A major Europe-wide project to improve the higher education of criminal justice social workers across the continent is being developed at Strathclyde.

Dr Beth Weaver, School of Social Work and Social Policy and the Centre for Law, Crime and Justice, and Fiona Dyer, Manager of the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, University of Strathclyde are partners in an ambitious new Erasmus Criminal Justice Social Work project. Beth and Fiona have been developing and testing the course materials. The piloting phase has involved qualified Social Workers in Glasgow City Council who have contributed to testing the quality and relevance of the materials.

The project funded for three years by the The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), Agency of the European Union.

Dr Weaver, an acknowledged expert on criminal justice social and desistance from offending, teaches the module on Offender Supervision and Management  as part of the Criminal Justice and Penal Change LLM / MSc at Strathclyde. She has a particular interest in service user involvement and engagement. Prior to her academic career, Beth was a Social Worker in the areas of youth and criminal justice, and as a Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Coordinator.

“I am not a Number I am a Free Man”… or am I?  Mike Nellis Lectures in US on Freedom and Data Privacy

Professor Mike Nellis addressed staff and students from Law and Sociology at Northern Kentucky University on the British reaction to the surveillance revelations of Edward Snowden.

Speaking about his visit, Prof Nellis commented: “The greater flurry of legal activism in the USA” contrasts significantly “with the somewhat low key response here in the UK - although that seems to be changing since he got back!  The quality of student discussion  in  both an earlier seminar on privacy which he attended,  and in the lecture, was very high, and strikingly  hostile to the scooping up of ordinary people’s data by the NSA that Snowden has exposed.”

Professor Nellis is pictured here with Professor Bob Lilly of Northern Kentucky University.

Understanding and Responding to Terrorism and Political Violence in Developing Countries

Can the predominantly militarised response to terrorism in developing achieve a lasting peace? A new publication by Dr Hakeem Yusuf, of Strathclyde University’s Centre for Law, Crime and Justice, argues that domestic and international policy responses have little chance of achieving sustainable peace unless there is genuine engagement with the socio-economic environment in developing.

In ‘Harvest of Violence: The Neglect of Basic Rights and the Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria’, Dr Yusuf argues that a ‘governance gap’ is a significant cause of political violence and terrorism in developing countries.  

Illustrated by his case study of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, Dr Yusuf draws on the ‘the ethic of emancipation’ to investigate the causes of political violence and terrorism in one of Africa’s most important countries. Rejecting the predominant idea on which most domestic and international policy is predicated - that political violence and terrorism is caused by religious fundamentalism - Dr Yusuf offers a different analysis:

“The neglect of both basic rights - economic, social and cultural rights - and due process by the State is the major cause of recurring violence in different parts of the country. The two factors have led to a ‘governance gap’ which has created gross discontent, high levels of poverty and want in the midst of plenty, predisposing sections of various communities at the lower levels of the increasingly socio-economically polarised community, especially in the North, to manipulation and violence.”

Dr Yusuf urges an urgent rethink of the militarised approach adopted by the government. “To curb the current state of insecurity and the development of such groups in the future, the state and the political elite have to commit to a fundamental socio-political and legal restructuring that accords human dignity to the country’s teeming population and, in particular young people, “who confront bleak prospects of self-actualisation. We need to prioritise social welfare through the implementation of economic, social and cultural obligations and due-process rights.”

Piacentini's Research on Women's Imprisonment to be feature by the BBC

Dr Laura Piacentini's new book, Gender, Geography and Punishment: the Experience of Women in Carceral Russia, published by Oxford University Press, is to be the subject of analysis and discussion on the BBC's Academic Research programme, Thinking Allowed to be broadcast on 30/01/13. The programme features discussion from Criminologists alongside Laura's co-authro Professor Judith Pallot who will be discussing the book's research findings in light of the recent Pussy Riot case. 

Gender, Geography and Punishment: The Experience of Women in Carceral Russia,co-authored with Professor Judith Pallot (Oxford University), explores why penal and legal reform is proving so difficult to achieve in Russia.

New Ground-Breaking Research on Women's Imprisonment

Dr Laura Piacentini, (CLCJ and Reader in Law), has just published a new book with Oxford University Press which breaks new theoretical ground in the study Russian prisons.  

Gender, Geography and Punishment: The Experience of Women in Carceral Russia, co-authored with Professor Judith Pallot (Oxford University), explores why penal and legal reform is proving so difficult to achieve in Russia.

Dr Piacentini explains:  “The book is the first of its kind to bring together human geography and the sociology of imprisonment to explore the relationship between distance and punishment in modern day Russia.”

Employing a unique methodology, the authors conducted empirical research with over 200 people involved in Russian prisons (including prison personnel, adult and juvenile female prisoners, NGOs and many others).

And Laura points out that the book's key strength is the strong inter-disciplinary dialogue between the authors. “Using new theoretical frameworks, the book argues that Russia's inherited geography of penality, coupled with Russian culture's traditional ideas about womanhood  are constraining Russia's ability to fully implement penal and legal reform.”

Gender, Geography and Punishment: The Experience of Women in Carceral Russia is published by Oxford University Press.

ESRC Funds New CLCJ Research to Unravel Breach & Complicance in Community Sentences

Three members of the Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime and Justice – Dr Monica Barry, Dr Laura Piacentini and Beth Weaver - have won a two-year research grant for £210,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council which will start in April 2013.

The project, entitled ‘Regulating Justice: The Dynamics of Compliance and Breach in Criminal Justice Social Work in Scotland’, and will involve over 500 interviews, not only with offenders (both those who comply with parole and community-based sentences and those who do not), but also with judges/sheriffs, defence agents, social work practitioners, social work managers, Community Justice Authority chief officers, police officers, prison personnel and parole board members.

The key research questions will explore how offenders, policy makers and practitioners interpret compliance and breach; what factors affect compliance and breach; and how breach policy and practice can be enhanced so as to maximise compliance and encourage desistance.

Commenting on the ESRC grant, Professor Mark Poustie, Head of Strathclyde Law School stated: ‘This is a prestigious grant for the newly formed interdisciplinary Centre for Law, Crime and Justice and I would like to congratulate the team involved in the successful grant application. The methods and findings from the study will feed into the wider teaching and research of the Law School, including the newly launched LLM/MSc in Criminal Justice and Penal Change.’

New International Volume on ‘Electronically Monitored Punishment’

A major new volume on the history and experience of Electronically Monitored Punishment  is about to be published. Co-Author-Editor of the new volume Professor Mike Nellis (Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime & Justice), is one of the world's leading authorities on Electronic Monitoring (and its relationship with community supervision and probation.

Prof Nellis explained the rationale for the new volume:

"Although there have been utopian and dystopian visions of Electronic Monitoring, evidence has been scattered and the area has been relatively under-theorised. The volume devotes substantive chapters to key issues including: privatisation, offender perspectives, ethics."

And Prof Nellis points out that the volume, which is co-edited by Belgian academics Profs Kristel Beyens and Dan Kaminski, is not only aimed at students and academics, but also intended to inform policy and practice:

"By bringing together key scholarship and evidence from around the world we believe that the volume will help to provide academics, policy audiences and practitioners with the intellectual resources to understand the challenges posed by EM".

Inter-Professional Dynamics in the Sentencing and Penal Decision-Making Process

Thursday 15th - Friday 16th May 2014, University of Reims, France.