Crime Research Centre

Annual Public Lecture

2024 CRC Annual Lecture: 'Art Not Evidence' and Reception - Keir Monteith KC - held on Thursday 7 March.

Keir Monteith KC, in the annual Crime Research Centre lecture at the University of Sussex, will review the increased criminalisation of rap music, including the use of lyrics and music videos as evidence against young people accused of crime. Keir will provide contemporary examples of how prosecutors, supported by judges, have suggested that Black children could be gang members because of: the music they listen to; their presence in a rap video or even by possessing a rap video.

He will highlight how police and prosecutors disregard the culture and conventions of the genre and ask courts and juries to take the music literally. This approach undermines the positive aspects of rap, denies its status as an art form, stiflescreativity and perpetuates harmful racist stereotypes that create a risk of wrongful conviction.

Keir will conclude by suggesting that the draft legislation proposed by should be passed to redress the balance and help limit the use of rap as evidence in criminal trials. This would mirror the approach in the United States.

Keir Monteith KC, Garden Court Chambers
Keir is a highly sought-after leading silk who represents clients facing heavyweight criminal allegations. He has been instructed in numerous murders, industrial scale Class A drug importations and conspiracies, escape from custody cases and appeals against conviction and sentence. Keir is ranked for criminal law in Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also ranked in Tier 1 for Fraud in the Legal 500 2024. Keir also sits as a Recorder [part-time Crown Court judge] and is a training tutor for the Judicial College.

Keir co-authored the report 'Racial Bias and the Bench' as a Simon Fellow at the University of Manchester, with Professor Eithne Quinn of the University of Manchester. Keir is now an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Manchester. He is also a writer, campaigner and a founding member of ANE.

For more information on the project which the talk was based, see Art Not Evidence

2023 Human rights-based approaches to drug policy - Niamh Eastwood, Director of drugs and human rights charity Release


We were delighted to invite Niamh Eastwood, Director of drugs and human rights charity Release. Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director of Release, discussed human rights-based approaches to drug policy. Followed by a drinks reception.

Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director of Release, is a well-known advocate for human rights-based approaches to drug policy. Having worked in drug policy for almost 20 years Niamh has co-authored Release’s two policy papers ‘The Colour of Injustice: Race, Drugs and Law Enforcement in England and Wales’ and ‘A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe’.

She has also co-authored and edited a number of Release’s advice booklets including ‘Drugs and the Law’ and ‘Sex Workers and the Law’, she regularly contributes to drug policy journals and publications. Niamh is also responsible for drafting many of Release’s briefings for parliamentarians and policy makers. She has presented at international and national conferences and is regularly invited to comment in the media

2022 The Changing Nature of Hate Crime by Paul Giannasi, National Police Hate Crime Advisior 

We were delighted that Paul Giannasi (OBE) gave the 2022 University of Sussex Crime Research Centre (CRC) Annual Public Lecture on Wednesday 30 March 2022.

Bio - Paul is currently the Hate Crime Advisor to the National Police Chiefs’ Council in the United Kingdom Having accrued 30 years’ experience as a police officer, he advises on hate crime policy and coordinates national responses, managing ‘True Vision’ ( and the National Online Hate Crime Hub on behalf of the police. He is the co-author of the national Police Hate Crime Guidance which offers advice to all UK police officers and partners. For over a decade, Paul represented the UK Government to international governmental agencies on hate crime and has worked to share good practice in many developing and post-conflict states, training professionals and assisting in policy development.

Precis – Paul led the government’s Hate Crime Programme for 12 years, coordinating Whitehall policy responses and representing the UK on the international stage in hate crime and related matters. This led to capacity building work in many post-conflict zones and involvement in consideration of many important and often controversial issues. His tenure spans the emergence of social media which has brought focus on the ‘competition’ of human rights. He will explore the link between hate crime and other phenomenon such as violence against women, terrorism and genocide. Discussing his view on the role of state in these important matters will inform a debate to follow.

2021 David James Smith - Award winning journalist for The Sunday Times Magazine

We were delighted that David James Smith gave the 2021 University of Sussex Crime Research Centre (CRC) Annual Public Lecture on Wednesday 28 July 2021

David James Smith is the author of five acclaimed non-fiction books and is an award-wining journalist for The Sunday Times Magazine.

His first book, THE SLEEP OF REASON – THE JAMES BULGER CASE is in a new edition from Faber (2017) and remains the definitive account of one of the most infamous cases in UK legal history involving the 1993 murder of a child by two ten year old boys;

David has a close interest in criminal justice and served five years (2013-2018) as a Commissioner at The Criminal Cases Review Commission, appointed by HM The Queen to oversee investigations into miscarriages of justice. He was a local newspaper reporter and wrote for the monthly magazine Esquire before joining The Sunday Times Magazine, for whom he travelled around the world writing cover stories, investigative articles, reportage and profiles.

David James Smith

Click here for transcript of David James Smith talk: Barriers to Investigating Miscarriages of Justice


2019 Baroness Newlove: Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales 

Baroness Newlove

Baroness Helen Newlove is the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales. Appointed in March 2013, her role is to promote the interests of victimsand witnesses; encourage good practice in the treatment of victims and witnesses; and keep under review the operation of the Code of Practice for Victims.

Baroness Newlove is a North-West based community campaigner and activist. She was given a peerage in the 2010 Dissolution Honours list. She has campaigned tirelessly for victims since the tragic death of her husband Garry in 2007 and her role as the Government’s Champion for Active Safer Communities saw her work with local people to make communities safer and to find solutions for local problems.

Accessibility: The venue has wheelchair access and a hearing loop. There are four designated parking bays for blue badge holders at the back of the venue.

See further accessibility information for the Fulton Building at DisabledGo.

2018 Rudi Fortson QC: Drugs and Harm Reduction: Has the UK lost its Crown?

Rudi Fortson QCWednesday 30th May 2018

Rudi Fortson QC has been an independent practising Barrister since 1976, and a Visiting Professor of Law at Queen Mary, University of London. He took silk in 2010. He participated in our 2018 conference with the Sussex Addiction Research Intervention Centre on ‘Intoxication, Addiction and the Criminal Law’, and is part of the Sussex Prior Fault project team, with Dr John Child and Dr Hans Crombag.

Abstract: The UK, which was once a pioneer and leader in the field of drug harm-reduction, is now falling behind other countries. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which has often been criticised as an instrument of prohibition, was designed to be regulatory and sufficiently flexible to respond to harmful effects of drug use that are sufficient to constitute a social problem.  In the event, the intensity of UK drug laws has increased while the incidence of recreational and problematic drug use remains high.  Harm reduction initiatives such as onsite drug checking, supervised drug consumption facilities, and the prescription or licensing of cannabis for medicinal purposes, encounter significant legal problems.  However – as this talk will demonstrate - there is increasing goodwill between agencies in the public and private sector to promote and to practice harm-reduction measures in the interests of personal and public health.

2017 Rob Wainwright: The Role of Europol in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism

Rob WainwrightRob WainwrightExecutive Director of Europol, gave the inaugural Sussex Crime Research Centre Annual Public Lecture in May 2017, followed by a wine reception.

We were delighted to welcome Mr Wainwright to share his expertise and insight into countering organised crime and terrorism at the European level.

A copy of the presentation delivered by Mr Wainwright is available to download here.

2016 Prof Evan Stark: Domestic Violence Reform – the Criminalisation of Coercive Control

Prof Evan Stark

In March 2016, in our previous incarnation as the Crime Research Group, we hosted a public lecture by Evan Stark, Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Abstract: Professor Evan Stark’s research on the phenomenon of ‘coercive control’ has been at the forefront of a revolution in the way that we understand domestic violence. His book Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (OUP 2007) provided the impetus for the successful campaign for legislative reform in England and Wales in 2015. The new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate relationship (Serious Crime Act 2015, s. 76) came into force on 29 December. As well as being the inspiration behind the campaign for reform, Professor Stark was involved with the Home Office consultation process ‘Strengthening the Law on Domestic Abuse’ at the highest level; and as part of that process advised both the Attorney General and the Home Secretary on the development of the new offence. The new offence represents an important step for criminal justice and has generated an enormous amount of media attention, not all of it positive. 

In this lecture, Professor Stark will review the potential impact of the new offence.  He will explain the phenomenon of coercive control, and in particular some of the less accessible dynamics of perpetrator behaviours and the harms experienced by victims, to facilitate a better appreciation of why the criminalisation of coercive control marks important progress. He will also highlight some of the pitfalls for police, the CPS, and the voluntary sector as they navigate what will at first be very unfamiliar territory.  This lecture is essential for anyone who works with or for survivors of domestic violence, for students with an interest in gender, criminal justice, and/or violence against women, and for anyone wanting to know more about domestic violence and the criminal justice response.