UCL Faculty of Laws


How did Thatcher’s social and economic agenda shape justice in England and Wales?

14 May 2015, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm


Event Information

Open to



UCL Faculty of Laws and the Howard League for Penal Reform


UCL Laws, Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG

Speaker: Professor Stephen Farrall, University of Sheffield
Chair: Elaine Genders, University College London
Accreditation: This event is not accredited

About this event

Political processes shape and mould many facets of our lives. It is well known, for example, that who provides and runs our buses, our trains, our healthcare systems and our domestic utilities is the outcome of political choices. But in what ways is the experience of crime shaped by political decision making? Using Margaret Thatcher’s (and John Major’s) periods in office as a case study, this talk explores the ways in which social and economic policies are associated with changes in crime rates and criminal justice responses, and, in so doing, charts the ways in which such processes unfold over a number of years, producing unanticipated consequences ‘down stream’. It is contended that the changes in social and economic policies initiated during the 1980s had dramatic impacts not just on crime during the 1980s and 1990s, but also on the approaches adopted to tackle crime. In turn, this begs the question as to whether or not the changes associated with that period made Britain a safer or a less safe place, and ought to cause us all to reflect a little more on the question ‘What is justice?’.

About the speaker

Stephen Farrall is Professor of Criminology in the School of Law at Sheffield University. His research interests include why people stop offending, the fear of crime and the ways in which political processes and structures shape outcomes in the criminal justice system and for crime itself. He is currently leading an ESRC-funded project which is exploring the ways in which the social and economic policies of Margaret Thatcher’s governments (1979-1990) affected crime rates in England and Wales. One of his most recent publications is a collection of essays co- edited with Colin Hay on the legacy of Thatcherism (The Legacy of Thatcherism: Assessing and Exploring Thatcherite Social and Economic Policies) and which was published by Oxford University Press in conjunction with the British Academy in 2014.