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Institute of Criminology

23rd Annual Bill McWilliams Memorial Lecture

Speaker: Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS (First Minister of Wales)

With respondents Richard Garside (Director, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies) and Alex Osler (Head of Operations, National Probation Service, East of England)


Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales

Mark was born and brought up in west Wales before moving to Cardiff more than 30 years ago.  Since then, he has lived in the Pontcanna area of Cardiff.  A former probation officer, youth justice worker and Barnardos project leader in Ely and Caerau, he has also been a professor of social policy and applied social sciences at Cardiff University.  He has also taught previously at Swansea University. In the 1980s and 1990s Mark was a Labour Councillor on South Glamorgan County Council, specialising in education issues, including Welsh medium education. Between 2000 and 2010 he worked as the Cabinet’s health and social policy adviser at the Welsh Government and was latterly head of the First Minister’s political office.  He has a 30-year knowledge of the Cardiff West constituency. Mark became the Assembly Member for Cardiff West in May 2011.  He was Chair of the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee from July 2011 to March 2013 and of the All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee for European funds from July 2011 to March 2013.  He was appointed Minister for Health and Social Services in March 2013, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government in May 2016 and Cabinet Secretary for Finance on 3 November 2017.  On 12 December 2018 he was appointed First Minister of Wales and became a member of the Privy Council on 13 February 2019.

Richard Garside

Richard Garside is the Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.  He joined the Centre in 2003 to set up the 'Crime and Society Foundation' project, which explored the role and limitations of criminalisation and punishment as responses to crime.  Richard became the Centre's Director in 2006. Prior to joining the Centre, he worked in communications at Nacro, and, before that, at Survival International. Richard is the lead author of the Centre's keynote annual publication: UK Justice Policy Review.  He has also written a range of other pamphlets and articles and is in demand as a conference speaker. He appears regularly in national print and broadcast media as a commentator on crime and criminal justice.  He can be followed on Twitter @richardjgarside

Alex Osler

Alex has worked in probation for 27 years, first as a probation service officer, specialising in housing support, before qualifying as a probation officer in 1997 and becoming a senior probation officer in 2001.  She has a breadth of experience in case management, courts, group work, approved premises and has also had a period on secondment to HMP Bullwood Hall – a women’s prison at the time.  An assistant chief officer at the point of Transforming Rehabilitation, Alex became the Director of Essex Community Rehabilitation Centre in April 2016 and moved across to the National Probation Service in August 2020 in preparation for unification.  Alex is an engaged leader who actively promotes the importance of compassionate leadership, evidence-based practice, service user engagement, the professional relationship, and working in partnership to address criminogenic need and manage risk of harm.  Thanks to the sound teaching of Professor Gwyneth Boswell, her mantra is ‘accurate assessment, and appropriate intervention’ and she is motivated purely by doing the very best we can, with what we have, to deliver quality services for service users, victims and communities.

History of the Lecture

Bill McWilliams, who died in 1997, had a prestigious career as a probation practitioner, researcher and writer. His quartet of articles on the probation service’s development up to the point at which the “punishment in the community” debate began, is now widely regarded as its definitive history of ideas. He was a staunch advocate of the need for rigorous evaluation of probation practice – but an equally staunch critic of the excesses of the management ideal. He had an independence of mind – irritating to more timid souls – that won him friends across the spectrum of political opinion in the Service. There are many who would say – as W.H. Auden said of George Orwell – “how I wish he were still alive, so that I could read his comments on contemporary events”.

To keep his spirit alive, a group of Bill’s relatives, colleagues and friends established The Bill McWilliams Memorial Lecture. It is intended to honour the contribution he made to the probation service over a 30-year period and keep his perspectives at the forefront of probation thinking. Beginning in 1998, speakers to date have been

  • Ken Pease (Professor of Criminology)
  • John Harding (then Chief Probation Officer)
  • the late Barbara Hudson (Professor of Law)
  • Martin Wargent (then Chief Executive of the Probation Boards’ Association)
  • Antony Duff (Professor of Philosophy)
  • Rod Morgan (then HM Chief Inspector of Probation)
  • Todd Clear (Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice)
  • Hindpal Singh Bhui (HM Inspector of Prisons)
  • Anthony Bottoms (then Wolfson Professor of Criminology, Cambridge and Professorial Fellow in Criminology, Sheffield)
  • Mike Nellis (Professor of Criminal and Community Justice, Strathclyde)
  • Judy McKnight (then General Secretary, Napo)
  • Loraine Gelsthorpe (then Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Cambridge)
  • John Crawforth (then Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Probation Trust)
  • Peter Raynor (Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Swansea)
  • Steve Collett (retired Chief Officer, Cheshire Probation Area/Trust)
  • the late Paul Senior (then Director, Hallam Centre for Community Justice, Sheffield)
  • the late Sue Hall (then Chief Executive, West Yorkshire Probation Trust and Chair, Probation Chiefs Association)
  • Anne Worrall (Professor Emerita of Criminology, Keele University)
  • Vivian Geiran (then Director of the Irish Probation Service)
  • Fergus McNeill (Professor of Criminology and Social Work, University of Glasgow)
  • Rob Canton (Professor in Community and Criminal Justice, De Montfort University)
  • and a panel presentation by Nicola Carr, Ioan Durnescu, Bronwen Elphick and Gwen Robinson.

Each of the lectures has been, or is to be, published in The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice (see below). The lecture series has already run over a 20-year period - the “transition years” of the 20th to 21st centuries - developing a tradition of drawing on academic and professional contributors and using educational and probation service settings in different parts of the country. It has now been scheduled to continue in the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge.

For information or to offer suggestions about the development of the lecture series, please contact:

The Bill McWilliams Memorial Lecture Steering Group

48 Rock Road




Tel 01223 511810

References for the lectures:

Pease, K. (1999) ‘The probation career of Al Truism’, Howard Journal, 38, 2-16.

Harding, J. (2000) ‘A community justice dimension to effective probation practice’, Howard Journal, 39, 132-49.

Hudson, B. (2001) ‘Human rights, public safety and the probation service: defending justice in the risk society’, Howard Journal, 40, 103-13.

Wargent, M. (2002) ‘The new governance of probation’, Howard Journal, 41, 182-200.

Duff, R.A. (2003) ‘Probation, punishment and restorative justice: should Al Truism be engaged in punishment?’, Howard Journal, 42, 181-97.

Morgan, R. (2004) ‘Thinking about the future of probation inspection’, Howard Journal, 43, 79-92.

Clear, T.R. (2005) ‘Places not cases? Re-thinking the probation focus’, Howard Journal, 44, 172-84.

Bhui, H.S. (2006) ‘Anti-racist practice in NOMS: reconciling managerialist and professional realities’, Howard Journal, 45, 171-90.

Bottoms, A. (2008) ‘The community dimension of community penalties’, Howard Journal, 47, 146-69.

McKnight, J. (2009) ‘Speaking up for probation’, Howard Journal, 48, 327-43.

Crawforth, J. (2011) ‘Taking on trust: new leadership perspectives for probation’, Howard Journal, 50, 289-306.

Raynor, P. (2012) ‘Is probation still possible?’, Howard Journal, 51, 173-89.

Collett, S. (2013) ‘Riots, revolution and rehabilitation: the future of probation’, Howard Journal, 52, 163-89.

Hall, S. (2015) ‘Why probation matters’, Howard Journal, 54, 321-35.

Worrall, A. (2015) ‘Grace under pressure: the role of courage in the future of probation work’, Howard Journal, 54, 508-20.

Senior, P. (2016) ‘Privatising probation: the death knell of a much-cherished public service?’, Howard Journal, 55, 414-31.

Geiran, V. (2017) ‘Penal reform and probation in Europe: positive change of direction, ‘nudges to the rudder’, or ‘steady as she goes’?’, Howard Journal, 56, 72-91.

McNeill, F., with Mark, Thomas, O. and Thornden-Edwards, K. (2018) ‘Helping, holding, hurting: a conversation about supervision’, Howard Journal, 57, 94-106.

Canton, R. with Padfield, N. (2019) ‘Why punish?’. Howard Journal, 58, 535–53.


Thursday, 8 July, 2021 - 13:30 to 16:30
Event location: