Call for papers: Older people in the criminal justice system

Older people are the fastest growing population in the prison estate in England and Wales (House of Commons Justice Committee 2020). Changes to sentencing policy have resulted in people going to prison for longer and people going to prison later in life for historical offences. The increase in numbers is also reflected in probation caseloads (Cadet 2020). This is also against a backdrop of an ageing society and workforce and also means that there are issues for older people who are victims of crime too (Bows and Penhale 2018). These phenomena are also occurring in other jurisdictions such as the United States (Blowers 2015) and Australia (Australian Government, 2020).

Who counts as an older person? Currently anyone aged 50 and over is being treated as an older person for operational purposes by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (House of Commons Justice Committee, 2020). For older victims, there is no definition of age in the context of elder abuse (Bows and Penhale 2018). Is a more nuanced consideration of what defines an older person in the criminal justice required?
What are the different needs for older people with convictions across the criminal justice system, from policing, through charging, sentencing and resettlement? Some of these may pertain to physical and mental health and social care but are there other needs criminogenic and non-criminogenic that are currently overlooked.

Aside from concerns about the adequacy of prisons, what about the adequacy of custody suites and opportunities being missed to engage early with older people at point of arrest and in police custody?

How can best practice in working with older people support working within the criminal justice system more generally?

To what extent are the needs of older people with convictions different from the needs of younger adults?

How can older victims be supported?

In England and Wales a national strategy is being developed (UK Parliament, 2020) but this has taken over twenty years of repeated calls from researchers, policy makers, and campaigners for this to happen. This begs the question as to whether criminal justice organisations are institutionally ageist, institutionally thoughtless, or institutionally ill-equipped to appreciate the myriad ways in which ageing and experience of the criminal justice system interact.

This special issue invites papers from practitioners, policy makers and researchers from the UK and internationally in other jurisdictions to address these questions and the wider aspects of ageing and the criminal justice system more generally.
Please send abstracts or outlines of up to 200 words to us at   Alternatively, contact us at the same email address if there is an idea you would like to discuss.

Our timetable for publishing this special issue is:
Deadline for abstracts and expressions of interest in writing for the special issue: 31st May 2022
Deadline for submissions – 3Ist October 2022
Publication – March 2023
Please note that papers should be no longer than 7,000 words (including references but excluding the abstract).
We look forward to receiving your submissions,
Nichola Cadet – Guest Editor
Kevin Wong – Co-Editor

Australian Government (2020) Health and ageing of Australia’s prisoners 2018
Blowers, A., N. (2015) Elders and the criminal justice system, Journal of Crime and Justice, 38:1, 1-8, DOI: 10.1080/0735648X.2014.931509  Accessed 25th March 2022
Bows, H. and Penhale, B. (2018) ‘Editorial : elder abuse and social work : research, theory and practice.’ British Journal of Social Work 48 (4) pp. 873-886. Accessed 04th April 2022
Cadet, N. (2020) ‘Institutional thoughtlessness and the needs of older probation clients.’ Probation Journal 67:2 pp.118-136.  Accessed 25th March 2022
House of Commons Justice Committee (2020) Ageing prison population: Fifth Report of Session 2019–21  Accessed 25th March 2022