Minutes of the
THE BRITISH SOCIETY OF CRIMINOLOGY
Annual General Meeting
University of Wolverhampton
3rd July 2013
Loraine Gelsthorpe (President), Andrew Williams (Treasurer), Allan Brimicombe (Company Secretary), Andrew Millie (Chair, Publications Committee), Mark Simpson (Chair, Conference Committee), Nic Groombridge (Prizes Committee Chair), Anthea Hucklesby (Chair, Women, Crime and Criminal Justice Network), Mike Rowe (Chair, Policing Network), Helen Jones (Chair, Learning and Teaching Network), Charlotte Harris (BSC Executive Director), Mandy Ross (Membership Secretary), Rachel Morris (new joint Chair, Postgraduate Committee), Anna Sergi (new joint Chair, Postgraduate Committee), Megan O’Neill, Stephen Parrott, Louise Westmarland, Jill Annison, Pam Davies, Paula Wilcox, Lesley Simmonds, Charlotte Bilby, David Maguire, Bethany Schmidt, Serena Wright, Philippa Tomczak, Falko Ernst, Nelson Ramos, Jenny Fleming, Dominic Kelly, Barry Goldson (Chair, Youth Criminology/Youth Justice Network)
1. Apologies for absence
No apologies for absence had been received prior to the meeting.
2. Report of the Directors for the year 2012
The Report of the Directors, available three weeks previously online to members and sent by post to those without internet access as per the constitution, and also available at the meeting, was approved.
3. President’s Review of 2012/3 – to consider the future direction of the BSC
President Loraine Gelsthorpe drew attention to the continued work and success of the BSC, including the regional groups and specialist networks which had held a number of events throughout the year including a very successful policing network conference in Leeds in January, and a day-long symposium on ‘Risk, Crime and Security’ organised by the Northern Ireland branch in May; the conference and postgraduate committees had worked together with the local organising committees to hold the annual conference; and the ethics committee which continued to provide advice to individual and organisational enquirers. The Society’s journal Criminology & Criminal Justice continued to thrive and had achieved an impact factor of in 0.755 in 2012 and a number of EC members were involved in the current review of the Criminology discipline educational benchmarking. Professor Gelsthorpe thanked the two paid members of staff Executive Director Charlotte Harris and Membership Secretary Mandy Ross for their invaluable contribution to the continued success and viability of the Society. Professor Gelsthorpe said that in the light of a number of major changes emanating from outside the Society, the Directors would like to review its activities and was holding an extended AGM this year to open debate.
Some of the questions to be considered were: the future of the Society’s journal Criminology & Criminal Justice In the light of the open access agenda. Does the Society want to/can it afford to offer gold access? Would green access, whereby material would not become freely available until after 12 months, protect subscription income adequately? Do members still want a printed copy of the British Journal of Criminology?
Are conferences in their current format still useful and enjoyable or would a shorter conference, a less frequent conference, or a (series of) more focused short conference(s) around the country be preferable?
On what should the BSC focus its activities and actions? Many academic members are heavily affected by the REF and the Society has been successful in ensuring a better representation on constituent Panels, but what about other issues – should the Society try to increase its relevance for practitioners, one third of its members being practitioners?
Should the Society be responding more to Government consultations? Should it be more proactive in generating questions that should be being asked?
Should the Society try to do more to protect the name and image of criminology? What could or should it do?
These questions prompted a range of responses. In discussion, a number of those present said there was no need for them to have a printed copy of either CCJ or the BJC and it was suggested that there should be an online vote among members to decide whether this member benefit is worth continuing.
On the conference, some members present said that they felt the BSC conference was expensive and looked expensive compared to other conferences where accommodation and meals were not included; indeed, it was suggested that conference packages without these options should be offered so that comparisons could more equitably be made, while retaining the existing all-in package which was still popular for some. A question relating to the possibility that the BSC conference might once again be biennial in order to allow participants to attend a different conference – eg the ESC or ASC – in the intervening years was met with muted support as it was felt the BSC could lose profile, reduce networking opportunities, and would require far higher financial returns from each conference. Rather, it was suggested that the BSC should compete on quality and content and maintain its current policy of moving it around the country. (One additional point was that a separate AGM would also have to be arranged in the years without a conference should the conference go back to biennial).
4. Treasurer’s Report for January 2012 to December 2012 (including standing order refund policy)
The Treasurer Andrew Williams thanked Charlotte Harris for preparing the accounts and Directors’ Report and reassured members that the Society was in a healthy financial position with no immediate need to increase the subscription rates, although the Society would continue to work hard to maintain and develop its income streams. The Direct Debit changeover continued to streamline the membership strand of income and there were currently 853 members properly registered and paying the correct amount. The Treasurer reminded members that two years ago at the 2011 AGM it had been agreed not to refund any further standing order payments made before 2010. This would now be extended up to 2011. The Society continues to receive many outdated standing order payments which as of 2009 no longer attract member benefits. The Society cannot stop these payments, it has to be done by the account holder. Repeated efforts have been made to contact payers and a large number of payments have been subsequently discontinued, but members are asked to check their bank accounts and cancel any such standing order payment.
5. Receipt and adoption of Statement of Accounts and Balance Sheet for the period January 2012 to December 2012
The Statement of Accounts and Balance Sheet for the period January 2012 to December 2012, available online to members three weeks prior to the AGM and sent to those without internet access, were received, approved, and adopted.
The President confirmed that there were no contested posts and therefore the following people were confirmed as elected:
Treasurer – Andrew Williams (University of Portsmouth)
Joint chairs, Postgraduate Committee – Anna Sergi (University of Essex) and Rachel Morris (University of Lancaster)
Professor Gelsthorpe thanked the outgoing Postgraduate Committee chair Susie Atherton for her work for the Society.
7. Minutes of the last AGM 5th July 2012
These had either been sent by post or an email link given to all members and were accepted as an accurate record.
8. Matters arising
There were no matters arising.
9. To consider change to constitution to introduce the possibility of lengthening President’s term of office by 12 months and merger of Professional Affairs and Ethics sub-committees
The Company Secretary Professor Allan Brimicombe introduced a proposed change in the Constitution allowing a serving President to serve an extra 12 months on top of the existing tenure of three years. He explained that the rationale for this was to give a President extra time to pursue longer term plans or dealing with a thorny issue such as open access, without the President staying for what was considered too long a tenure of six years. He proposed a reworking of paragraph 25.4 of the Constitution to
The President shall hold office for a term of three years and shall be eligible for re-election for a further period of one year. After a fourth year in office, the President is ineligible for re-election. There shall lapse a period of three years before the President becomes eligible for re-election as President. However, he or she may serve as a member of the Executive Committee for the first twelve months following his/her term of office.
There was discussion on both whether there was a need to limit the extension to 12 months and whether any extension should be allowed at all, but the motion was carried with 25 for, 2 against, and 2 abstentions.
Professor Gelsthorpe proposed a second change to the Constitution whereby the Professional Affairs and Ethics Committees should be merged. Subsequent to the suggestion being mooted, the merger had de facto been operating in this way since the resignation of the Ethics Committee chair. The merger was agreed.
10. Conference matters
The Conference Committee chair Mark Simpson commented that the Portsmouth conference had been financially and intellectually stimulating and that the Wolverhampton one, though smaller, was going well. He announced that the next conference would be held in Liverpool in 2014 and that plans for that were already well advanced. He would welcome any further comments about the shape of the BSC conferences in the longer term.
10. BSC office and administration
There were no further matters discussed.
11. Regional groups and specialist networks
There were no further matters discussed.
12. Any other business
The seven postgraduate bursary holders – David Maguire, Bethany Schmidt, Serena Wright, Philippa Tomczak, Falko Ernst, Nelson Ramos and Anna Sergi – introduced themselves and Postgraduate Committee chair Rachel Morris thanked the sponsors Hart publishing, the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, the Howard League for Penal Reform and an anonymous BSC member for their support of the Society bursary scheme.
13. Date and venue of the next AGM
University of Liverpool: time and date to be confirmed but within the window of 10-12 July 2014.