Minutes of the
BRITISH SOCIETY OF CRIMINOLOGY
Annual General Meeting
Glasgow Caledonian University
6th July 2006
Tim Newburn (President and Chair), Anthea Hucklesby (Company Secretary), Alison Wakefield (Executive Secretary), Melody Askari (new AC), Charlotte Bilby, Philip Birch, Mark Button, Claire Corbett, Matt Follett, Barry Goldson, Lystra Hagley-Dickinson, Tim Hope, Gordon Hughes (EC), Nadia Hussein, Mark Israel, Sam Lewis, Brian McIntosh, Will McMahon, James Mehigan, Catriona Mirlees-Black, Stephen Parrott, Rebecca Roberts, Abigail Rowe, Mike Rowe (EC), Kevin Stenson (EC), Jasmine Tregiagh (?), Azrini Wahidin (EC and AC), Brian Williams (EC and AC), Kate Williams (AC), Pam Worrall (?). (EC indicates Executive Committee, AC indicates Advisory Council).
Apologies: Chris Lewis (new EC), Anne Eason (new AC), Mike Nash (EC), Francis Pakes (new EC), Mark Simpson (EC).
In attendance: Paul Kiff (BSC Administrator).
Report of the Directors
The Report of the Directors was submitted to the meeting and approved.
President’s Review of 2005/6
The President reported a successful year with a growing membership now in excess of 900 members, including an increase of 10 to 15 per cent in the past year, demonstrating the Society’s vibrant health.
He reported the finances to be sound and improving year on year, thanks to the hard work of the Executive Committee, Advisory Council and membership, but indicated that the Society remains dependent on a small number of income streams.
The President described the new journal as the year’s biggest success, with the Society adopting the renamed journal Criminology and Criminal Justice to represent our scholarly interests. Following a bidding process for the new editorial team and a very strong selection of entries, a team from Cardiff University led by Mike Levi and Gordon Hughes were appointed.
The organisers of the Leeds (2005) and Glasgow conferences were congratulated for two very well-attended and successful events, and thanks were given to the Executive Committee, Advisory Council and membership for their contributions to the Society over the past year, and specifically to outgoing EC members Mike Nash (Treasurer) and Colin Dunnighan, and outgoing Company Secretary Anthea Hucklesby.
Other successes have been the revamping of the website and newsletter, and the redrafting of the Code of Ethics.
3. Treasurer’s Report for January 2005 to December 2005
In the outgoing Treasurer’s absence, members present were directed to his comments on page 2 of the Directors’ Report and Accounts.
4. Receipt and adoption of Statement of Accounts and Balance Sheet for January 2005 to December 2005 and the Auditor’s report
Agreed by members present.
5. Reappointment of Messrs Wickham, Hunt and Co. as auditors
Agreed by members present.
6. Confirmation of election of Executive Committee and Advisory Council members in place of those retiring in accordance with the results of the postal ballot
Alison Wakefield reported that there were no contested posts and therefore the following people were put forward for election:
BSC Treasurer: Dr Francis Pakes, Principal Lecturer, Portsmouth;
One Executive Committee member who is currently a member of the Advisory Council or eligible for nomination to the Advisory Council in the 2006 election: Kate Williams, Research Fellow, UCE.
Two Advisory Council members from Constituency C: Anne Eason, MA student, DMU; Melody Askari, Ph.D student, University of Leicester
One Advisory Council member from Constituency D: Danny Kushlick, Director, Transform
Additionally, Mr Chris Lewis, Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Professor, Portsmouth, takes up the non-elected post of BSC Company Secretary.
Minutes of the last AGM, 13 July 2005
Accepted as an accurate record.
(a) The Society’s nominations to the Academy of Social Sciences, listed on page 1 of the Directors’ Report and Accounts, were all accepted. Further nominations are to be made, and formal and informal representations from the membership are invited.
(b) Recent revisions to the Code of Ethics have recently been added to the website.
(c) The Member’s Handbook has now been incorporated into the website, listing all members who have given permission to be named.
(d) The Benchmarking document was submitted to the QAA following a lengthy process of drafting and review. It is to be subject to a further round of consultation led by the QAA alongside three other draft benchmarks, and members are encouraged to support this review process even if they had previously responded to the Society’s consultation. The President thanked the EC for all the work that went into the document, and advised members relying on confirmation of the benchmarks to adopt the current document as an expression of the discipline.
Kevin Stenson referred to the research methods element as an area of contention, arguing that psychology graduates tend to be favoured over criminology graduates with respect to the quality of their research training. He emphasised that universities need to ensure that their research training programmes are tailored to the needs of criminologists.
(e) It was reported that Anthea Hucklesby is standing down as chair of the conference committee and a replacement is needed.
9. Conference matters
Leeds 2005: Reported to have been very successful financially, having a significant impact on the Society’s financial health.
Glasgow 2006: The President thanked the organisers for their efforts in delivering such as successful conference, and reported that 480 delegates had registered.
LSE 2007: Scheduled for 18 to 20 September.
Annual conferences in 2008 and 2009: bids are invited for the organisation and hosting of the next annual conferences, to follow the hosting by the LSE in 2007. Members are encouraged to consider preparing bids on behalf of their institutions.
One day conferences: Currently no conferences are planned, and ideas are invited.
10. BSC office and administration
The President reported that the Society intends to move progressively towards more full-time, permanent administrative support for BSC activities. In the last few years this has been financially difficult, but it is hoped that progress in this direction will be reported next year. Paul Kiff will gradually hand over responsibility, and thanks are due to him for all his hard work in keeping the Society running.
11. Regional groups
Gordon Hughes reported that the Southern Regional Group is still running successfully and has the largest membership of all regions. He thanked Kevin Stenson and Alison Wakefield for their work as chair and secretary of the Southern Region.
The Midlands Regional Group was reported to be running successfully with Mike Rowe as chair, with events being organised in Leicester and Birmingham. He indicated that the group is planning to consider some of the difficulties associated with the size of the region and exploring options to get round these as effectively as possible.
The Wales and West Regional Group, chaired by Fiona Brookman, was also congratulated for its success.
It was reported that work was being done with other regions to establish new groups: in Scotland there is a strong cohort of scholars planning to develop a group; in the North West a committee chaired by Lynn Hancock has been established, with plans to start holding events in the autumn; a North East Group chaired by Mark Simpson is in a similar position; and the Northern Ireland Group, chaired by Kieran McEvoy, is planning to re-launch, and it is hope there will be scope for the BSC to develop relations with Southern Ireland through the NI Regional Group.
Gordon Hughes reported that the main challenge for the regional groups is the fact that each cover a large area making travel to events difficult for many, and there is a need to think creatively about how to help the regions run successful events, e.g. exploring new models such as one-day colloquia or two speaker events. The President thanked Gordon for his hard work as Regional Group Co-ordinator.
12. Specialist networks
The one existing network, the Theory Network, has been dormant. It is hoped that this will be reinvigorated but the Society would like to develop other specialist networks. Gordon Hughes observed that there might be scope to develop some from the conference streams.
13. Bulk membership discounts/BSC relations with government
The President reported that an arrangement has been made with the Home Office, offering a discounted rate (excluding the subscription to the British Journal of Criminology) for individual membership fees purchased in bulk. The Home Office has now paid for 100 subscriptions, although only 60 have been filled. Previously the Society had around 40 Home Office members, so currently the new arrangements have led to an increase of 20 members. The arrangement involves Home Office members applying individually, with their fees covered by their employers.
Concerns were raised by Tim Hope and Matt Follett about the potential for the Home Office to organise block voting. Tim Hope wondered whether the deal effectively amounted to corporate sponsorship, and Barry Goldson felt that there was a danger that the intellectual freedom of the Society would be compromised, asking whether the Society really needed the additional income. Different ways of framing the arrangement were discussed: Tim Newburn raised the possibility of removing the voting rights for such members, but Tim Hope argued that this would be a disservice to those members; and it was suggested by Mike Rowe that direct payment by organisations for the members could be prohibited, although Paul Kiff reported that a number of other members have their subscriptions paid directly by their organisations. Tim Hope suggested a halt to the process with no new Home Office members permitted until the arrangements are clarified.
The President indicated that the idea for the arrangement emerged from a conversation with Paul Wiles, who had stated that there were many researchers in his RDS group with strong technical skills but no knowledge of criminology. The Society had welcomed the prospect of increased member numbers, increased finances and getting more Home Office members into the Society. The President reported that, following publication of the details of the arrangement in the BSC newsletter, Tim Hope had written to the Executive Committee raising a number of concerns which had not previously been considered, and that he was grateful to Tim for identifying the possible risk of block voting.
In the letter, Tim Hope had argued that, having first joined the Society when a Home Office researcher, he had valued its separateness from his organisation. He had expressed concern about the implication that the Home Office was purchasing ‘corporate membership’ of the Society, arguing that the financial benefit was not without strings. He felt that there was potential for the Home Office to instruct its BSC members to vote in particular ways, and that the Home Office could be seen effectively to be ‘buying a piece of the BSC’. He felt that such an arrangement was wholly undesirable as there was no protection from such members acting according to their employers’ interests. The President said that the concern for the Society was not that the Home Office paid the subscription of up to 100 members, but simply about the possibility of a block vote. He has consulted with the British Sociological Association and the Political Studies Association about the situation, but they have no experience of this, and he reported plans to consult with the British Psychological Society.
The President suggested it would be possible to amend the constitution to prevent such an eventuality. Tim Hope argued that block voting would be difficult to prevent, and that he is more concerned about the direct payment by the Home Office, preferring to see individual members make payment themselves and then claim the money back. He felt that the current arrangements had the feel of a corporate purchase. The President agreed to discussion of this with Tim Hope in order to look for some satisfactory means of dealing with this potential problem, the details of any future arrangement to be published in the newsletter.
Referring to the earlier ‘Research for Criminal Justice Policy’ round table with Home Office speakers, Kevin Stenson suggested that the Society offers to contribute to the peer review process for Home Office projects. The President cited Roger Evans’ earlier comments on the benefits of a framework agreement used by the Department of Health, and proposed that this be discussed with the Home Office. Mark Israel commented that there have been occasions when criminologists have acted as peer reviewers of research plans/reports for government agencies, but that the reports have subsequently not been published. He raised this as a transparency concern. The President suggested that a working group could be set up to discuss these issues.
14. Any other business
Stephen Parrott suggested that the Society launch a campaign to recruit students. The President reported that the Society is keen to establish a new student oriented magazine as a basis for such recruitment.
15. Date and venue of the next AGM
19 September, LSE – time and venue to be confirmed