Press release: Do We Need Criminal Law?

Journalists sitting and writing in notepads

Lecture will choose between abolitionism and reformism

Embargo: Thursday 20 April 7pm

I would like to invite you to a lecture, Do We Need Criminal Law? part of Professor Leslie Thomas KC’s series, Reimagining The Law. 

In this lecture, Professor Leslie Thomas will look at alternative models in use around the world: restorative justice, community-based justice, and transformative justice and at how they focus on repairing wrongs and promoting community healing, rather than punishment. He will look at what the evidence is for alternatives ‘working better’ than the criminal justice system.

Professor Thomas will say, “Criminal law has never been uncontroversial. It is often criticised for serving the interests of the ruling class, repressing the poor, meting out brutality and disproportionately harming people of colour and disabled people.“

“The criminal justice system overwhelmingly criminalises the poor, not the rich. It prioritises the property of the rich at the expense of the lives of the poor…..the law overwhelmingly penalises actions that are more likely to be committed by the poor, while not penalising the far more harmful actions of the rich….To take a few examples, a homeless person begging in the street is committing a crime, but the landlord who made them homeless is not. Stealing a sandwich to feed oneself is a crime, but owning a payday loan company that has plunged many families into poverty and hunger is not. Fly-tipping is a crime but owning an oil company that contributes disproportionately to climate change is not.”

He will go on to say, “poor communities are the most heavily policed, and that the state uses policing and incarceration instead of putting the necessary resources into these communities to solve their social problems. Instead of responding to homelessness by providing housing, or responding to mental illness and drug addiction by providing adequate healthcare, we respond to both by locking people up.”

Professor Thomas will go on to look at the disparities in criminal law, which has a disproportionate impact on marginalised communities such as minority ethnic groups. 

You can register to watch the lecture online via the links below, or email me for a press seat, for an embargoed  transcript or to speak to Professor Leslie Thomas KC. 


Notes to Editors

You can sign up to watch the hybrid lecture online or in person; or email us for an embargoed transcript or speak to Professor Thomas: / 07799 738 439

Read more about Professor Thomas.

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