For the fourth year running, the CJA Awards – kindly supported by the Hadley Trust – celebrated individuals, organisations and journalism that have contributed significantly to a fairer and more effective criminal justice system. The winners were revealed at an evening reception on 8 November where the awards were presented by television reporter Raphael Rowe, who spent 12 years in prison following a wrongful conviction. The CJA has produced a brochure of all the winners and shortlisted individuals and organisations, highlighting ‘What Good Looks Like’.

The Zahid Mubarek Trust won the Award for Outstanding Organisation of the Year. The Trust was set up by the family of Zahid Mubarek following his death. Zahid Mubarek, a British Asian teenager, was murdered by his cellmate in 2000 in Feltham YOI in a racially motivated attack. The work of the ZMT includes evidence-based advocacy and grassroots support to prisoners and their families around equality, fairness and human rights. The judges praised the Trust for ‘establishing an authentic voice in an area where such indifference and marginalisation are faced’.


Credit: Jessica Bernard


On receiving the award, Khatuna Tsintsadze – the Trust’s Prison Programme Manager – commented:

Fair, just and humane: these words can hardly be used to describe prisons today. In fact, some still argue whether it is relevant to talk about equality and fairness whist the system is failing to meet basic standards in safety and security.

As our prison system is rethinking its purpose, we believe that fairness and equality should form the foundation of this process.

Advocacy work for fairness and equality in the system, cannot be measured in numbers of reducing reoffending, but it is a fair and just system that makes rehabilitation a possibility for all.

I’d like to dedicate this award to the people who work and live in our prisons and especially to Zahid’s family, for their strength in allowing other people the second chance which Zahid never had.


The winner of the Award for Outstanding Individual of the Year, Marie-Claire O’Brien, founded the New Leaf Initiative in 2014. Marie-Claire has since supported 187 people with intensive one-to-one mentoring, worked with major corporations on employing people with convictions and created processes for consulting authentically with people with lived experience of the criminal justice system. The judges commended her for her ‘leadership, entrepreneurship and impact, built on her first-hand experience of prison’.


Credit: Jessica Bernard


Commenting on her award, Marie-Claire said:

Being shortlisted for the award amidst the other competitors was amazing – the calibre and characters I met were all worthy winners.  Winning the award will bring fantastic visibility and credibility to New Leaf’s work, and the £1000 prize will contribute to getting our new project – the New Leaf Network – off the ground so that we reach and support even more people, as well as fellow organisations ran by ex-prisoners and those with lived expertise of the criminal justice system. Thank you for the opportunity and for believing in me and the work we do.


The Revolving Doors Agency received the Runner-up Award for Outstanding Organisation for its co-production of a peer support model that sits within Liaison and Diversion services in police custody and courts. The judged praised this ‘clear new model of delivery with excellent evidence of impact’.


Credit: Jessica Bernard


Andy Williams, Revolving Doors’ Head of Involvement, said:

We are incredible honoured to win the runner-up award at the Criminal Justice Alliance Awards. What we are most proud of is that this is a model co-created by people with lived experience and NHS England. The peer support model has delivered impressive results. It shows what can be done – lived experience done in the right way can change the world.

Emma, member of Revolving Doors’ Lived Experience Team commented:

I am so pleased and honoured to accept this award on behalf of the Lived Experience Team. We are a team of men and women all with recent experience of the criminal justice system but we are fully determined to use our negative experience for positive. We want to make a real difference to people going through the system now. The roll out of the peer support model is something we are incredibly proud of and are confident will change lives. This award recognizes the importance of peer support and lived experience and we want to see this across the whole criminal justice system.


David Cohen, Investigations and Campaigns Editor for the Evening Standard, won the Award for Outstanding Journalism for his special investigation into youth violence and a public health approach.


Credit: Jessica Bernard


Commenting on his award, David said:

I am honoured to have won this award for my work bringing to light the public health model, but the real heroes are people like Jack Rowland, who started Divert and is in this room, and Mahamed Hashi, the youth worker who exemplified the work of the public health model who I featured. One of the things I have tried to do with my Violent London investigation is to understand better what the phrase ‘trauma-informed’ means and also to look at how the media interprets this. One of the things we learn from the public health model is that many of the perpetrators of violent crime were once victims. In the past we have tended to portray them anonymously and picture them from the back all hooded up and this only adds to their sense of otherness, of alienation. I was keen that this time we would portray them as real people with real lives and not anonymously in order to show the full human being with a whole life history.


The final award of the evening, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented to Martine Lignon, Chair of the Prisoners’ Advice Service and Trustee of Women in Prison, for her continuous ‘knowledge, wisdom, charm and drive in campaigning for a fairer and more effective criminal justice system’.


Credit: Jessica Bernard


On receiving her award, Martine spoke powerfully of the crucial importance of education as ‘the absolute key in the fight for social justice, human rights, specifically the human rights of prisoners and diversion from incarceration’.

We’re very grateful for our excellent judges and the Hadley Trust for supporting the Awards again.