Students Staff

Archived news

03 November 2011: International Centre for Prison Studies Joint Lecture: ‘Creating Criminals: Crime and Justice in a Market Society’ by Professor Andrew Coyle CMG and Baroness Vivien Stern

On Thursday 3rd November the International Centre for Prison Studies alongside the Faculty for Law and Management, the Human Rights Centre and the School of Law hosted a lecture in the Ivor Crewe Lecture Theatre entitled ‘Creating Criminals: Crime and Justice in a Market Society’. The lecture marks the start of a partnership between the University of Essex and the ICPS. The International Centre for Prison Studies was established in 1997 and assists governments and other relevant agencies to develop appropriate policies on prisons and the use of imprisonment. It carries out work on a project or consultancy basis for international agencies, governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as research, the results of which is made public for the use of policy makers, practitioners, the media and the general public.

The lectured was opened by the Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Law and Management, Professor Nigel South and was chaired by the Chancellor of the University, Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury OBE, who introduced the two speakers; Professor Andrew Coyle CMG, the Director of the ICPS, former Prison Governor of Brixton Prison and now an Emeritus Professor of Prison Studies in the University of London and a Fellow of King’s College London as well as a prisons consultant for the United Nations and the Council of Europe; and Baroness Vivien Stern CBE, Senior Research Fellow at the ICPS as well as Honorary President of Penal Reform International, a Crossbench Peer since 1999 and was a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights from 2004 to 2008.

Baroness Stern took the floor first and remarked that she was happy to be appointed as a visiting professor in the School of Law at Essex. She talked about the need to make sure that the criminal justice system is just and asked is the prison population proportionate to the general population? She stated that there was generally a higher proportion of men, the poor, minority groups and the sick in prison and although she said she was not suggesting that there were in prison for no reason, she suggested that we are creating criminals and that there was an urgent need for Human Rights to look at crime.

Professor Andrew Coyle then took the floor and he talked about the three P’s; principles, policy and practice and stated that the 3 P’s helped to structure the work that the ICPS do. The principles and policy aspects manifest themselves in the work carried out by the ICPS such as creating the Handbook on Prisons and the Code of Ethics for Prison Staff for the Council of Europe, as well as helping the Red Cross to develop a program to help staff responsible for inspecting prisons. Transforming these principles and policies into practice began in the Soviet Union and then in Latin America, and more recently they have worked in Libya and Algeria and currently in China. They first explain the International standards to the country whilst making them looking honestly at their prisons and then they work together for a strategy. Professor Coyle says that once the ICPS has worked successfully with these countries then they will turn to the UK.

The event was attended by about 80-90 people with a very mixed audience, from University staff and students, ICPS associates and staff and members of the public. All who came regarded the lecture as an interesting insight into the criminal justice system and prisons across the globe, with many interesting facts and examples given by the two highly experienced speakers. The lecture finished with a question and answer session and then a drinks reception which gave the attendees more chances to question the guests.