Professor Roger Hood

Roger HoodProfessor Roger Hood CBE, QC (Hon), PhD, DCL, LLD (Hon),FBA

Professor Emeritus of Criminology, Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Criminology 1973 2003.

President of the British Society of Criminology 1987-1989

12 June 1936 – 17 November 2020

On November 17, 2020, at the age of 84, Professor Roger Hood passed away after a long and successful career in criminology, first in Cambridge but primarily in Oxford. Roger was a longstanding member of the British Society of Criminology, serving as its President from 1987 to 1989. He was Director of the Oxford Centre for Criminology for thirty years, and an active and prolific researcher for over 60 years. Roger was widely honoured for his contributions to criminology by his peers he was made a Fellow of The British Academy and of the Academy of Social Sciences, he was presented with the SellinGlueck Award for Distinguished International Contributions to Criminology by the American Society of Criminology, and he was later awarded a CBE for his services to criminology and made an honorary QC much to his delight – in the same year as Nelson Mandela. Roger remained active academically until the end and had recently completed his latest work on the death penalty. He wrote the following in 2017 and is remembered with much fondness.

In 1958, when research assistant to Dr Hermann Mannheim at the LSE, I first attended meetings of the BSC’s precursor: the ‘Scientific Group for the Study of Delinquency Problems’ set up in 1953 by the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency (ISTD). Present were such distinguished criminologists of the day as Max Grünhut, Trevor Gibbens, Peter Scott, and Leslie Wilkins, as well as progressive members of the judiciary, prison and probation services.

By 1961, when I returned from Cambridge to the LSE, the Group was on the verge of becoming the independent British Society of Criminology. The discussions were still at a high level: I recall the erudite presentation made by Gordon Trasler when he revealed his Explanation of Delinquency. How anxious I was when asked to speak on my doctoral research on Homeless Borstal Boys. In 1987 I became President. By this time the meetings, held at the Mary Ward Settlement in Bloomsbury, were attended by fewer of the leading academics of the day. I believed strongly that the BSC needed to transform itself into a recognised Learned Society. A new constitution was drawn up which introduced the present qualifications for different classes of membership, the first being those who had a good claim to be regarded as teachers and researchers in criminology.

When Sheffield University organized a national conference in 1987, I was delighted when my motion that future conferences should be held under the auspices of the ‘reformed’ BSC was accepted by a large majority.

I am now in my 80th year. Since retirement in 2003, I have tried to keep myself engaged in criminology. After being Visiting Professor at the University of Hong Kong I taught ‘short-course’ seminars between 2008 and 2011 at the University of Virginia Law School and at City University of Hong Kong. Regarding research, I have concentrated on universal abolition of the death penalty. Until 2005 I remained responsible for preparing the UN Secretary-general’s quinquennial reports on capital punishment. The 4th and 5th editions of The Death Penalty: a Worldwide Perspective (1st ed. 1989) were published jointly with Professor Carolyn Hoyle in 2008 and 2015. Working with The Death Penalty Project, I published (with Florence Seemungal) between 2006 and 2011 three empirical studies of the mandatory death penalty in Trinidad, including a survey of public opinion: and in 2013 a report on public opinion on the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia. Following this, I was appointed consultant to Malaysia’s Attorney-general. I have travelled widely to lecture on the human rights case for global abolition, including China (many times), India, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Uganda and Pakistan, as well as at conferences including a BSc Plenary at Portsmouth in 2012. I was honoured by the award of the Cesare Beccaria Medal in 2011 by the International Society of Social Defence; in 2012 by the ESC European Criminology Award ‘for a lifetime contribution as a European criminologist’; and honorary Ll.D degrees by the Birmingham (2008) and Edinburgh Napier (2011) Universities.