History of the Department

The Early Days

Old CSPO logoThe Department of Criminology was originally called the Centre for the Study of Public Order and was established in 1987 by John Benyon who was an academic working in the then Department of Further Education at the University of Leicester. He was interested in aCSPO logo broad range of issues relating to riots, public disorder and policing, and had written widely on the inner city riots in the early 1980s and the hugely influential Scarman Report which followed. The first ever MA in Public Order was established at this time which proved extremely popular with a wide range of practitioners from across the criminal justice system including senior police officers and magistrates as well as with representatives from minority ethnic groups and local government. This was followed by an MA in Criminology and an MSc in Security Management and Information Technology, both of which reflected the broadening interests of the people who had begun to join the Centre as academics and researchers. This was also the time when the current Head of Department ( Professor Adrian Beck) and Professor Yvonne Jewkes joined the Centre as young researchers – Adrian employed to work on a range of retail security projects and Yvonne on a Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust funded project on social justice and order in Britain’s cities (Yvonne left the Centre in the early 1990s but rejoined in 2008). Andrew Willis, who later became a Head of Department, also began collaborative work with staff from the Centre at this time, particularly on an extensive project funded by the European Community looking at Police Co-operation in Europe.

Expansion and Development

CSPO Scarman logoIn the early 1990s the Centre was renamed the Scarman Centre for the Study of Public Order in honour of Lord Scarman and his influential observations about public order, policing, civil liberties and social justice in contemporary societies. This time also saw the establishment of a range of postgraduate courses being offered by distance learning, in recognition of the growing interest from practitioners in the subjects being researched and taught by the Centre. This mode of learning enabled those in full time employment to undertake postgraduate study while maintaining their personal and professional responsibilities, and has continued to be an extremely popular option, with many thousands of students obtaining qualifications through this route. The Centre was also carrying out a wide range of research projects, including a socio-economic profile and needs analysis of African Caribbean people in Leicestershire, the policing of football hooliganism, violence against retail staff and policing in central Europe. Staff working in the Centre at this time included Martin Gill (now Director of PRCI), Professor Mike King (Birmingham City University), Ed Borodzicz (now professor at Portsmouth University), Jon Garland (now at Surrey University), and Mita Chauhan who has recently taken early retirement from the professional services team after 23 years working in course administration role. 

A New Name and New Research        Scarman logo

In 1996 the Centre was given a new name – the Scarman Centre – and continued to expand its areas of interest and activity. It established new courses in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management, Emergency Planning and postgraduate studies in Health and Safety. Research work underway at this time included a major Home Office funded project evaluating the impact of CCTV, a series of projects funded by the UK’s Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office looking at policing in transitional societies, gun control, police co-operation in Europe, and the management of security in organisations. 

Becoming the Department of Criminology

In 2004, after an internal and external academic review of the work of the Centre, and in line with broader organisational changes within the University, it was decided to rename the Scarman Centre the Department of Criminology. Around this time, the Department also created a BA in Criminology which has proved to be one of the most popular programmes on offer, regularly attracting over 60 students a year. In addition, it established a Foundation Degree and a BA in Security and Risk Management by distance learning, providing those working in the security industry with a unique pathway to enable them to improve their skills and knowledge. Professor Carol Hedderman (retired in 2014) joined the Department in 2004 taking over as Head of Department from Andrew Willis, who retired in 2008. Recent research work has included pioneering studies on Hate Crime, the assessment of probation performance, the role of evaluation in offender management policy making, and an evaluation of the value of using advocates to support victims of domestic violence through the criminal justice process.

Building on the Success of the Past

As can be seen from this short history of the Department, much has been done in the two decades since it was originally established. A wide range of courses have been developed spanning different modes of learning and levels of study. Research carried out by staff has covered a plethora of subjects, from retail security to prisons and public order. What has remained central to the work of the Department however (throughout the many changes in its name), is a commitment to conducting innovative, ground-breaking work within Criminology, to engaging with practitioners throughout the criminal justice system and more broadly the security and risk management industry.

List of Directors/Heads of Department

  • 1987-1999: Professor John Benyon
  • 1999-2002: Martin Gill
  • 2002-2005: Andrew Willis
  • 2005-2009: Professor Carol Hedderman
  • 2009 to present: Professor Adrian Beck

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