In the beginning, when the Oxford Centre was founded, criminology was an infant, eclectic and insecure discipline. Its few practitioners confronted what appeared to be a baffling and alarming rise in crime and a criminal justice system that lacked the ability to exercise effective control. The levers of change were thought to reside outside the grasp of the State, and principally in the informal disciplines exercised by the family, church and education that politicians and others could not reach. Resort had to be made instead to what have been called 'rituals of rationality' and the unfolding of a reform programme that had been laid down in the 1830s. The outcome was that criminal justice was about to be 'modernised' and liberalised, and criminologists were to play a modest part in the tidying-up that was about to be done, but none could be confident that crime rates themselves would actually fall. In hindsight, perhaps, the foundations were being laid for what would be identified as the management of expectations, the allaying of fear and the orchestration of 'coping with crime' that were to become the Leitmotiv of the 1970s and 1980s.
Chaired by Professor Roger Hood.