Executive Secretary Annual Report 2020

Marcelo Aebi

Marcelo Aebi

Executive Secretary of the ESC


Graciela Kronicz

Graciela Kronicz

ESC Secretariat


In brief

In 2020, the European Society of Criminology (ESC) had 1036 members, and 582 of them took part in the 20th Annual Meeting of the ESC, organised online on 10 and 11 September in collaboration with the ESC Working Groups. Six different awards were presented during the conference. Michael Hough received the 2020 European Criminology Award; Rok Hacin received the 2020 ESC Young Criminologist Award; Steve van de Weijer, Rutger Leukfeldt, and Wim Bernasco received the European Journal of Criminology Best Article of the Year 2019 Award; Wim Hardyns received the 2020 ESC Early Career Award; Martin Killias and David J. Smith received the 2020 Distinguished Services to the ESC Award; and Dirk van Zyl Smit and Catherine Appleton received the 2020 ESC Book Award. Through an electronic vote, the ESC members appointed Catrien Bijleveld as President-Elect, Fernando Miró-Llinares as At-Large Board Member, and Daniel Fink as Auditor. At the end of the conference, Aleksandras Dobryninas took office as President of the ESC, replacing Lesley McAra until the end of the next conference.

Conference participation and ESC membership

Unsurprisingly, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the upward trends observed in previous years in terms of ESC membership and conference participation. The ESC Board was forced to cancel the presential conferences foreseen in Bucharest and decided instead to organise the 20th Annual Meeting of the ESC online from 10 to 11 September 2020. The conference was open to ESC members and free of charge. The opening and closing ceremonies of the conference were recorded and can be watched on the ESC’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCommPTU1z27MXC9rFlkCz6w).

Figure 1 shows the trends in the number of ESC members and conference participants from 2004 to 2020. It can be seen that, in 2020, there were 1036 ESC members. This corresponds roughly to the number of members observed in the mid-2010s (namely in 2013, 2014 and 2016) and can be considered a good result, given the circumstances. On the other hand, the number of participants in the conference decreased to 582, which corresponds to the numbers seen in the late 2000s. Taking into account that the conference was free of charge for the 1036 ESC members, one is almost obliged to conclude that we clearly prefer a presential conference to a virtual one. Unfortunately, that will have to wait until 2022 in Málaga (followed by Florence in 2023 and Bucharest in 2024), as the 2021 conference will have to take place online again because of the pandemic.

Figure 1. Participants in the ESC Annual Meetings and members of the ESC from 2004 to 2020



The ESC Board in 2020

The members of the ESC Executive Board usually meet twice during the annual conference and twice outside of it—traditionally in May in the hometown of the President, and in November in the city where the next conference will take place—but in 2020, the number of virtual meetings was multiplied exponentially. Soon it became customary to spend a Saturday morning discussing how to deal with the effects of the pandemic on the conference and on the rest of the ESC activities. A subgroup of the members also met weekly, every Thursday of the summer of 2020, to organise the e-conference.

The authors of this report take this opportunity to thank the whole Board for their engagement during a very difficult year. We thank in particular Andra-Roxana Trandafir (University of Bucharest, Romania), who acted as the conference organizer, and we send special thanks to the Heads of all the ESC Working Groups, who acted as peer-reviewers and organisers of the session of the conference. Without your collaboration, the 2020 e-conference would have never taken place. Thank you.

ESC Awards

In 2020, the ESC delivered six awards, three of them for the first time. The whole ceremony was recorded and can be watched on the ESC’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCommPTU1z27MXC9rFlkCz6w).

2020 European Criminology Award

Michael Hough, Emeritus Professor at the School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom, received the 2020 ESC European Criminology Award in recognition of his lifetime contributions to criminology.

The award committee—composed of former ESC presidents Rossella Selmini (Chair, University of Minnesota, United States of America), Gorazd Meško (University of Maribor, Slovenia) and Tom Vander Beken (University of Ghent)—considered that Michael Hough ‘has been the leading UK scholar in the last 40 years in a variety of fields in criminology and criminal justice studies, particularly in qualitative and quantitative studies on victimization and fear of crime, policing, legitimacy and trust in criminal justice institutions, and sentencing and probation. His contribution to the development of criminological knowledge at national and European levels—as shown by his extensive comparative publications and his participation in a high number of European projects and networks—is impressive. His publication record (articles, books chapters, authored book, edited books, and research reports) on a variety of topical themes has generated the highest number of citations among the nominees in World of Science and Google Scholar. As a former research officer of the Home Office, and, later in his career, as an advisor to political bodies, Professor Hough has made a remarkable contribution to the development of policy-oriented research in criminology and promoted active and engaged roles for criminologists in European society. This is also demonstrated by his many publications addressed to wide audiences. Finally, Professor Hough is a long-term member of the European Society of Criminology and has actively taken part in the Society’s conferences, presenting and organizing thematic panels and strengthening cooperation and networks among European scholars’.

The Awards Ceremony took place during the 2020 ESC e-conference, the laudatio of the awardee was delivered by Rossella Selmini and the acceptance speech of Michael Hough is published in issue 2021/1 of the Newsletter of the ESC, Criminology in Europe.

2020 ESC Young Criminologist Award

Rok Hacin (Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Slovenia) received the 2020 ESC Young Criminologist Award in recognition of his article ‘Prisoners’ perceptions of legitimacy of prison staff in Slovenia’, published in 2018 in the European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

The award committee—composed of Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac (Chair, University of Zagreb, Croatia), Catrien Bijleveld (NSCR and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and Olga Petintseva (Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)—considered that: ‘The candidate has a promising academic profile and an explicitly European/international outlook. The article that was central to the deliberation focuses on prisoners’ perceptions of the]legitimacy of prison staff in Slovenia. The researcher was able to get access to a wide array of settings (all Slovenian prison facilities) and empirically tested complex theoretical premises regarding legitimacy. The author argues why the legitimacy of prison staff is important, which he also convincingly positions in the context of post-socialist societies. Furthermore, the analyses make necessary nuances according to different prison regimes. The committee particularly values the European outlook, which clearly demonstrates that concepts and generalisable models require contextualisation and testing in different settings. The article raises important questions for [the] criminological understanding of legitimacy. Overall, the paper is well-written and has a clear structure. Hacin Rok was 28 years old at the time of publication of the article and […] is strongly engaged in teaching and service to the scholarly community and society at large’.

EJC Best Article of the Year 2019 Award

Steve van de Weijer, Rutger Leukfeldt and Wim Bernasco received the ESC European Journal of Criminology Best Article of the Year 2019 Award in recognition of their article ‘Determinants of reporting cybercrime: A comparison between identity theft, consumer fraud, and hacking’, published in issue 16/4 (pp 486-508) of the European Journal of Criminology (EJC).

The award committee, composed of Lesley McAra (Chair, University of Edinburgh and ESC President), Dario Melossi (University of Bologna and EJC Editor-in-Chief) and Maria Libak Pederson (Winner of the Award in 2019) considered it to be an important and well-founded article that makes a significant contribution to knowledge.

2020 ESC Early Career Award

In 2020, the ESC delivered for the first time the ESC Early Career Award, which recognises the outstanding scientific achievement of an early career European criminologist. It was awarded to Wim Hardyns (Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy [IRCP], Faculty of Law and Criminology, Ghent University).

The award committee—composed of Letizia Paoli (Chair, KU Leuven Faculty of Law, Leuven, Belgium), Effi Lambropoulou (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Greece) and Éva Inzelt (Etvos Lorand University, ELTE, Budapest, Hungary)—considered that 25 of Wim Hardyn’s articles ‘have been published in internationally peer-reviewed journals and many of these journals have a high impact factor. In fact, since 2009 he has published not only in criminology journals but also in journals of other disciplines, primarily computer sciences and some of these journals have higher impact factors than criminology journals. Twenty-two other articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals without impact factor, primarily in Dutch. Wim has also published 40 book chapters, 20 as first or single author. Several of these books have been published by international publishing companies. Wim has also been editor of nine volumes, four times as first editor. Wim’s track record is not only impressive from a quantitative but also from a qualitative point of view. He has a broad expertise that spans the following fields: quantitative criminology, survey methodology, big data analytics, crime prevention, policing strategies, security and new technologies, sport-related crime, and radicalization and terrorism. Specifically, he has conducted groundbreaking research on predictive policing in Europe, a new and important theme in criminology. He launched a large-scale research program on this topic in 2015—and he has thus been one of the first, if not the first, criminologist(s) in Europe to study predictive policing. His aim has so far been twofold: to develop and test evidence-based predictive policing algorithms in Europe, on the one hand, and to conduct real-time field experiments in police forces on the other hand. This program has resulted in several studies, high-level publications in renowned journals and ongoing PhDs in this new field of criminology’.

2020 ESC Book Award

The ESC Book Award was also presented for the first time in 2020. It was awarded to Dirk van Zyl Smit and Catherine Appleton in recognition of their book Life imprisonment: A Global Human Rights Analysis, published in 2019 by Harvard University Press.

The award committee—composed of Aleksandras Dobryninas (Chair, Vilnius University, Lithuania), May-Len Skilbrei (University of Oslo, Norway) and José Ángel Brandariz (University of A Coruña, Spain)—considered that ‘…Dirk van Zyl Smit and Catherine Appleton’s Life Imprisonment: A Global Human Rights Analysis should be seen as the latest result of a long academic project devoted to exploring sentencing and prison issues, and especially sensitive aspects of the prison landscape. […] In the framework of this long-lasting scholarly effort, van Zyl Smit and Appleton bring once again to the fore a much laudable commitment to human rights in examining the varied phenomenon of life imprisonment sentences in the second decade of the century. Being a notably ambitious book that constantly lives up to its high expectations, there are some aspects of Life Imprisonment that should be particularly stressed. First, it is an encyclopaedia-like monograph, which provides a broad review of relevant literature on life imprisonment worldwide, paying significant attention to the phenomena of very long prison sentences on every continent. It thereby supplies an amazingly nuanced picture of this topic in penology, so that the book will be relevant to anyone who wants to get an overview over the field. Second, Life Imprisonment masterfully combines a variety of scholarly perspectives in its approach to the topics under study. Human rights law is evidently the soul of the manuscript, but it is adequately coupled with an empirical gaze that goes far beyond the law-in-the-books and jurisprudence viewpoint. It presents the relationship between practices and their consequences, on the one hand, and human rights doctrine and case law, on the other. This means that the book contains a reflective and dynamic discussion of how the human rights framework sheds light on the boundaries of these practices, rather than a static human rights evaluation. Third, van Zyl Smit and Appleton’s book is the result of a rare ability to mobilise global academic networks to obtain up-to-date information on life imprisonment in a wide variety of world regions, sub-continents and jurisdictions. In this sense, Life Imprisonment is a manifestation of a global criminology effort, which brings penal scenarios that are infrequently considered by international literature to the attention of the academic community. The Jury believes that this and many other aspects will soon turn Life imprisonment into a classic book, a hallmark of twenty-first-century European criminology’.

2020 Distinguished Services to the ESC Award

Last but not least, in 2020, the ESC also delivered the Distinguished Services to the ESC Award for the first time. Two awards were delivered, one to Martin Killias and one to David J. Smith, in recognition of their outstanding service contributions to the effective functioning of the European Society of Criminology.

The award committee was composed of Tom Vander Beken (Chair, Ghent University, Belgium), Aleksandras Dobryninas (Chair, Vilnius University, Lithuania) and Csaba Györy (Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) and Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary).

The committee considered that: ‘Without Martin Killias’ efforts, there would be no ESC. It’s possible, likely that someone would have tried to establish something similar, but not till later. It’s unknowable whether a later effort could have been as successful. The ESC had the remarkable, excellent fortune that Martin Killias was prepared to devote sizeable amounts of time to its establishment and early operation. Together with his colleagues, he organised the first informal planning meeting in Toronto in November 1999 and the official organising meeting in The Hague in spring 2000. He also was among those who organised the first annual meeting in Lausanne in late summer 2001. Martin drafted the ESC constitution and was the ESC’s first president and, until a permanent Executive Secretary was hired, oversaw all day-to-day administrative and financial operations’.

The award committee also considered that: ‘David J. Smith laid the foundations on which the European Journal of Criminology’s success is built and equally importantly did that in a way that substantially contributed to the ESC’s achievement of its ambition to create a multi-national European community of scholars in criminology. Creating the EJC required countless hours of thankless work planning it; negotiating with Sage and the ESC board; establishing systems for solicitation, receipt, review, selection, editing, and [the] publication of articles; and negotiating with the University of Edinburgh about space, money, and staff. To assure disciplinary breadth and multinational participation, David appointed and actively consulted a small editorial advisory board and persuaded the ESC board to support its convening at each annual meeting. By the time David stepped down, the EJC was widely recognized as an up-and-coming international journal, potentially the most visible and influential in Europe. That accomplishment was crucially important to the success and credibility of the ESC’.

The Awards Ceremony took place during the 2020 ESC e-conference, the laudatio of the awardees was delivered by former ESC President Michael Tonry, and the acceptance speech of David J. Smith can be watched, together with the whole awards ceremony, on the ESC’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCommPTU1z27MXC9rFlkCz6w).

Electronic voting

Another innovation introduced in 2020 was a system of electronic voting implemented in collaboration with the University of Lausanne. The system allowed ESC members to elect Catrien Bijleveld as President-Elect, Fernando Miró-Llinares as At-Large Board member, and Daniel Fink as Auditor.

European Criminology Oral History Project (ECOH)

The fourth wave of interviews for the European Criminology Oral History Project (ECOH)—conducted during the ESC conference in Ghent in 2019—are now online and can be watched on the ESC’s YouTube channel. This means that, currently, the following 27 interviews, which were conducted in Muenster (2016), Cardiff (2017), Sarajevo (2018) and Ghent (2019), are available:

Christopher Birkbeck, interviewed by Gary LaFree;

Jiří Buriánek, interviewed by Eva Krulichová;

Gerben Bruinsma, interviewed by Lieven Pauwels;

José Luis Díez-Ripollés, interviewed by Anabel Cerezo-Domínguez;

Aleksandras Dobryninas, interviewed by Eglė Vileikienė;

Frieder Dünkel, interviewed by Ineke Pruin;

Cyrille Fijanut, interviewed by Tom Daems;

Yakov Gilinskiy, interviewed by Anna Gurinskaya;

Ineke Haen-Marshall, interviewed by Dirk Enzmann;

Tim Hope, interviewed by Adam Edwards;

Mike Hough, interviewed by Ben Bradford;

Susanne Karstedt, interviewed by Alison Liebling;

Martin Killias, interviewed by Marcelo F. Aebi;

Krzysztof Krajewski, interviewed by Irena Rzeplinska;

Elena Larrauri, interviewed by José Cid;

Michael Levi, interviewed by Nicholas Lord;

Friedrich Lösel, interviewed by Caroline Lanskey;

Dario Melossi, interviewed by Màximo Sozzo;

David Nelken, interviewed by Stewart Field;

Paul Ponsaers, interviewed by Antoinette Verhage;

Sebastián Roché, interviewed by Jenny Fleming;

Ernesto Savona, interviewed by Stefano Caneppele;

Joanna Shapland, interviewed by Matthew Hall;

Sonja Snacken, interviewed by Elena Larrauri;

Michael Tonry, interviewed by Manuel Eisner;

Lode Walgrave, interviewed by Brunilda Pali;

Per-Olof Wikström, interviewed by Kyle Treiber.

You can also reach the ESC’s YouTube channel through the ESC Website: http://esc-eurocrim.org/index.php/activities/ecoh. From 2016 to 2018, the ECOH project was placed under the responsibility of former ESC President Rossella Selmini; since then, it has been placed under the responsibility of José Angel Brandariz, former member of the ESC Executive Board. The interviews will resume as soon as we can meet in person again, hopefully in Málaga 2022.