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CJA launches academic membership and annual research symposium

Are you an academic working on criminal justice issues looking to collaborate with practitioners, policy makers and people with lived experience to achieve system change? 

As part of its strategy to reimagine, redesign and rebuild the criminal justice system, the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) – a network of 180 charities, social enterprises, think tanks, research institutions and staff associations – wants to bring together its members and partners with academics who want to see a fairer and more effective criminal justice system. 

We are doing this in two ways: 

First, the CJA has launched a new category of associate membership for individual academics (Masters level and above) to strengthen our connections with universities and other research bodies. Find out more and apply here. 

‘Systemic change in criminal justice will only occur when we share lived, learned and professional expertise across sectors and disciplines. We want to break down the silos that prevent effective knowledge exchange to promote system-wide connections and collaborations between academics, practitioners, people with lived experience and policy makers.  That is why we have created an associate membership for individual academics. We look forward to welcoming you to the CJA!’ Nina Champion, Director of the Criminal Justice Alliance 

Secondly, we have partnered with the University of Westminster to convene our inaugural annual research symposium. Each year the CJA will partner with a different university to explore a different pillar of our vision for a fair and effective criminal justice system: one that is Safe, Smart, Person-Centred, Restorative and Trusted.  

Our first symposium will take place at the University on Friday 3 March 2023 and will explore the theme of a Trusted criminal justice system. We aim to create a space for academics to share their research with a range of participants, including practitioners, policymakers and people with lived experience, in an engaging way.  

‘We want to see a criminal justice system which is trusted and in which people have confidence. To us, this means it must be transparent, open, accountable and actively promote the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion. We hope this inaugural symposium will stimulate dialogue, debate and action to achieve our vision.’ Kevin Wong, Chair of the CJA and Editor of the Journal of Community Justice 

We are interested in hearing different perspectives of what trust can mean in this context. For example, research might relate to: 

  • How do we measure trust and confidence in the CJS? 
  • What helps or hinders the trust of different groups involved with and impacted by the CJS? 
  • What does trust in the CJS look like through race- and gender-sensitive lenses? 
  • How do we build public trust in a less punitive CJS?  
  • What role does trust play in criminal justice leadership and management structures to achieve cultural change? 
  • How can we improve trust and transparency in policy and decision-making processes in the CJS? 
  • What is the impact of digital technology on trust in the CJS?   
  • How can we promote greater trust in criminological research, for example through more creative, participatory and peer-led methods?  
  • How does trust link to the quality of research evidence and the credibility of messengers, including whose voices are heard, how those voices are heard and what influence they have? 

We want to showcase the best of the diversity of academic research, across different disciplines and geographical reach, that can inform our collective understanding of trust in the criminal justice system. We are keen to ensure that the speakers deliver their learning in creative, imaginative and interactive ways, either in terms of the methodologies used or the means of illuminating the findings.   

Academic communities are enhanced when we speak – and listen – to wide and diverse audiences. Criminology at the University of Westminster is committed to bringing together researchers, practitioners, people with lived experience and policymakers to interrogate our justice system together. We are delighted to partner with the CJA on this symposium, to create a platform to explore a future with a trusted criminal justice system.’ Dr Morwenna Bennallick, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Westminster.  

Please send us your proposal (in up to 500 words) for contribution/s to the symposium by 5pm on Friday 20 January to The proposal should set out: 

  • Details – name, institution and contact details. 
  • Research – What is it that you have been researching and how does it link to the theme of trust? Please attach relevant links, if possible.  
  • Presentation method/s – How are you going to share your research in an engaging way? Who will be involved? What sort of space would you need?  
  • Purpose – What do you hope to gain from being involved in the symposium? What do you hope people will do as a result of hearing about your research?