As a civil servant, David contributed hugely to a more informed debate regarding crime policy and criminal justice. He joined the Home Office in 1959 and was eventually seconded to the Cabinet Office from 1978-1980 where he had responsibility for home affairs and the government’s legislative programme. He became Director of Operational Policy in the Prison Department in 1980 and Deputy Secretary in charge of the Criminal and Research and Statistics Department in 1982. David was responsible for modernising the criminal justice system and for coordinating central government’s response to crime. His policy areas included: the treatment of minorities and victims; legislation on sentencing; and crime prevention. He was a member of the United Nations Committee on Crime Prevention and Control and led the United Kingdom delegations to the United Nations Congress on Crime and Criminal Justice in 1986 and 1990. David's most important contribution was to ensure that criminal policy reflected insofar as possible, the latest research. As David wrote in his memoir, 'We made a serious attempt to take academic thought, research and statistics into account in the formulation of policy bo0th at the strategic level and in the development of practice'.
After his official retirement David remained active, teaching and writing in the field of criminal justice. At Oxford he contributed to the Centre's teaching and research, and in particular the FHS option on criminology and criminal justice. David wrote in his memoir that 'these oxford tutorials were some of my most personally rewarding experiences, and I have always been grateful to the students for the enthusiasm they showed for the subject and stimulation they provided.' As an author he authored or co-authored three books, including: Crime, State and Citizen: A Field Full of Folk (Waterside Press). Where Next for Criminal Justice? (The Policy Press, with Ros Burnett) and Servant of the Crown: A civil servant's story of criminal justice and public service reform (Waterside Press, 2014). As Sir John Chilcot noted in his preface to David's memoir (Servant of the Crown) the book was 'uniquely rewarding' for its insight into the policy-making process in criminal justice.
David was a charming, erudite and warm friend and colleague who will be missed by all who knew him.