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Institute of Criminology

24th McWilliams Lecture flier

Lecture Structure

This will be a hybrid event hosted by the Institute.

If you wish to attend IN PERSON you will need to register here:

(Please note that this registration will close Wednesday 1 June at 1.00pm)


For those who attend in person there will be a buffet lunch provided from 1.00pm

The Lecture will start at 2.00pm


Rooms B3 & B4, Institute of Criminology 


If you wish to attend ONLINE your will need to register here:     


Professor Gwen Robinson (Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Sheffield)


Nicola Carr (Professor in Criminology in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham)


Gwen Robinson

Gwen is Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sheffield, where she has been involved in research concerning probation work for 20 years.  After completing an MSc in Applied Social Studies and a Diploma in Social Work at the University of Oxford in 1996, Gwen started her research career at Oxford’s Probation Studies Unit, focusing on the risk/need assessment instruments which were emerging at that time. She completed a PhD on risk in probation practice at the University of Wales, Swansea, in 2001, before joining a team at the University of Sheffield which was commissioned by the Home Office to evaluate a number of restorative justice schemes in cases involving adult offenders. She was appointed to a lectureship at Sheffield in 2002, and since then has worked on a range of projects with colleagues across Europe, including the COST Action on Offender Supervision in Europe (2012-2016) where, with Professor Kerstin Svensson, she co-led a Working Group on probation practice. Gwen and Kerstin went on to co-chair the European Society of Criminology Working Group on Community Sanctions and Measures (2014-17). Gwen is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Probation Journal and the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice and the British Journal of Criminology. Since 2014 her research has focused on the process and impacts of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, including their impact on probation work in courts, and she is currently involved (with colleagues from 4 other Universities) in an ESRC-funded project focusing on probation unification.

Nicola Carr

Nicola is a Professor in Criminology in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham, where she is the Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange. Prior to becoming an academic Nicola worked as a Probation Officer in London. She is editor of the Probation Journal, an editorial board member of the Irish Probation Journal, and a co-editor (with Gwen Robinson and Ebony Ruhland) of a new Routledge series: Studies in Probation and Community Sanctions. She has served as a Scientific Expert to the Council of Europe’s Council of Penological Co-Operation (PC-CP), where she helped to develop Guidelines Regarding Recruitment, Selection, Education, Training and Professional Development of Prison and Probation Staff. Nicola is co-editor (with Lol Burke, Emma Cluley Steve Collett and Fergus McNeill) of a forthcoming book Reimagining Probation Practice: Reforming Rehabilitation in an age of Penal Excess ­(Routledge).

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 (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)
  • A panel presentation by Nicola Carr, Ioan Durnescu, Bronwen Elphick and Gwen Robinson.
  • Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS (First Minister of Wales)

Each of the lectures has been, or will be, published in The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice. 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:

Thursday, 9 June, 2022 - 14:00
Event location: 
Institute of Criminology