A March 31, 2008 press release by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies annnounces a study report (a monograph titled “Critical thinking about the uses of research“, by Reece Walters and Tim Hope). The monograph is critical of the issue of government research data reflecting government policy rather than government policy being based on research data that reflect facts, the latter approach requiring honesty as promised by David Blunket in the year 2000.
The press release states:
The government is reluctant to use the learning from critical, independent evidence based analysis and research to inform criminal justice policy making according to a new report published today by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London.
The authors of the report argue that the government does not want learn from academics or entertain the kind of serious debate that independent academic research can generate.
The author of one essay in the report, Professor Reece Walters, argues, `Home Office suppression of criminological research that contradicts ministerial policy and opinion is a feature of this arm of government. The Home Office remains silent on all those topics that have the potential to reflect poorly on government and is not an institution that represents the British public’. Professor Walters calls for an academic boycott of any Home Office sponsored research.
In his essay, Professor Tim Hope, reflecting on his experience of working on Home Office research, argues that `having placed such a premium on evidence based policy the government has failed to live up to that promise and has resorted to fixing both the process and publication of Home Office research publication to meet the political needs of the time.’ Professor Hope is worried that officials and politicians can be tempted to be selective in their choice of the evidence used to illustrate success of programmes thus resulting in the exclusion of some data and the simplification or misrepresentation of others.
Will McMahon, Policy Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies said:
`The publication of Critical thinking about the uses of research raises important questions about the transparency of government funded crime research and the need for mechanisms to ensure that research funded by the tax payer is open to proper scrutiny.’
Will McMahon, Policy Director, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies: 020 7848 1695 or 07968 950223.
Notes to editors:
1. Reece Walters is Professor in Criminology at the Open University. He has published widely on the ways that criminological knowledge is constructed including his book Deviant Knowledge, Criminology, Policy and Practice. With over 70 authored works on issues such as youth justice, state and corporate crime and more recently on environmental crime, Professor Walters is an internationally reputed scholar. In 2007 he was awarded the Radzinowicz Prize inCriminology.
2. Tim Hope has been Professor of Criminology at Keele University since 1997. He is also Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, School of Law, University of Edinburgh. He co-leads Work-package 6 (Public Policies and Crime) of the CRIMPREV Co-ordination Action of the EU Sixth Framework Programme. Please note that Professor Hope will not be available for interviews.
3. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is an independent charity based at King’s College London. It was established in 1931 and aims to inform and educate about all aspects of crime and the criminal justice system from an objective standpoint. It encourages and facilitates healthy debate and understanding of the complex nature of issues concerning crime. The views expressed in Critical thinking about the uses of research are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.
4. In November 2006 the Science and Technology committee of the House of Commons published a report Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy Making Seventh Report of Session 2005-06. The Government published a response, Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy Making: Government Response to the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2005-06, in February 2007.