CJA welcomes new Chair and Trustee

The Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) is delighted to announce its new Chair, Kevin Wong. Kevin is Associate Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University and has been a Trustee of the CJA Board since April 2019.

Kevin will be taking over from John Drew OBE. We are incredibly grateful to John for his dedication, wisdom and support. John will remain as a Trustee until the start of 2021.

Kevin brings a wealth of expertise and experience in criminal justice, which he has detailed in a blog for members below.

I am excited, and I have to admit a little daunted, to be taking over as the Chair of the CJA, for two reasons.

The first, my immediate predecessor John Drew has skilfully and most adeptly helped the CJA build on its strengths; consolidating its position as both an important membership organisation which spans the criminal justice system, and as a consistent and impartial advocate for a progressive and evidence led criminal justice system (CJS).

The second and this is where it becomes daunting – I feel that it’s incumbent on me to make sure that this continues.

The great strength of the CJA is the wealth of expertise and experience of its membership – something which comes to the fore in every briefing, policy report and letter to the latest justice minister or home secretary.

It is this very collective and at the same diverse expertise that will enable us to address the challenges that we face. The most obvious and immediate one being the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; as well long-standing, systemic issues such as racial injustice within the criminal justice system, brought to the fore this year by the murder of George Floyd.

Undoubtedly, as illustrated by the pandemic, there will be new challenges that we are as yet blissfully unaware of. I’m sure that together, supported by our small but committed staff team, ably led by our Director Nina Champion and backed up by my fellow Trustees, we will measure up admirably.

Let me devote the remainder of this blog to telling you about myself. Not something that I’m prone to doing – but a wise person – John – advised me that this is what the members will really be interested in.

It’s probably fair to say that I’ve had a somewhat unusual career trajectory.

I’ve worked in criminal justice for over 25 years. Before that I spent 11 years in community legal advice. Over this time I’ve had variety of roles, from volunteering with Citizens Advice to being an Assistant Director at Nacro, and to my current job as Reader in Community Justice and Associate Director of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University.

As far as criminal justice is concerned, I’ve been a practitioner developing and delivering services; a commissioner, overseeing the Home Office Safer Cities Fund in the mid to late 90s; and a policy adviser to the police, local authorities and probation. As a researcher and research director, I’m committed to generating the best evidence possible on what works and what doesn’t work in criminal justice.

Aside from the criminal justice and community legal advice work, I’ve been a commissioned script writer for radio, film and theatre, including the BBC and Unity Theatre in Liverpool. I’ve run writing workshops for young people working with community groups and colleges, and I’ve been a promoter of Chinese arts and artists. My most recent foray into the arts world is as the founder and Director of the Manchester Crime and Justice Film Festival, where I’ve been able to bring together my twin passions of criminal justice and movies in one place.

This is me.

I look forward to getting to know members and helping the CJA move forward in the next stage of its development.

The CJA is also pleased to announce that it has appointed a new Trustee.

Kimberley Lamb is an experienced youth justice professional, currently Head of Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation unit (VERU), and a Board Trustee for a local charity which was founded and is run by an ex-service user. Kimberley is former Vice Chair of Bedfordshire Police’s Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel and previously led Bedfordshire’s Victims Signpost Hub.

Kimberley said: ‘I am delighted to be selected as a Trustee for the CJA. I’ve been a keen admirer of the CJA’s work for some time now, particularly in the areas of effective scrutiny and accountability and the benefits of having a diverse workforce. Equal to my fellow trustees, I am passionate about finding approaches and solutions that address systemic issues within the CJS. So it is a complete honour to be given the opportunity to contribute further to a changed narrative, alongside those who also strive for a fairer and more effective criminal justice system.’