Criminology professor awarded high honour in same month as new book released

A well-respected professor from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is to become just the fourth person from England and Wales to be made an honorary member of a distinguished European organisation dedicated to enhancing the work of probation.

Rob Canton, professor in Community and Criminal Justice at DMU, has been nominated to receive the honour from the Confederation of European Probation (CEP), joining only 25 others worldwide to get such a title in the organisation’s 36-year history.


The CEP, which is based in the Netherlands, aims to promote the social inclusion of offenders through community sanctions and measures such as probation, community service, mediation and conciliation.

Prof Canton, of Nottinghamshire, described the moment as “fantastic recognition” of his many years’ work in the field.

The nomination stated: “You have done an astonishing amount during the long time that you have been involved with the CEP, contributing to our work and conferences. You have played an invaluable role in developing the Council of Europe regulations and guidelines on Community Measures and the European Probation Rules, thus putting probation on a higher level in Europe.

“Besides that, your broad knowledge of several European topics and fields of interest have been very valuable indeed.”


Prof Canton has been involved with the confederation’s work for more than 15 years. He will be invited to the CEP’s General Assembly meeting in 2019 to have the award formally conferred at a date and venue to be confirmed.

Prof Canton said: “I believe there are only 25 honorary members and just three others from England and Wales.  I am delighted because the work is so close to my heart.”

Meanwhile, last month (June) also saw the publication of Prof Canton’s latest book, called Why Punish? An Introduction to the Philosophy of Punishment.

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The 242-page title, released by global academic publisher Palgrave Macmillan, is available in hardback, paperback and as an e-book.   

Prof Canton, who has written more than 40 chapters and academic papers, as well as two other books, said: “The new book has recently received endorsements from Professors Sir Anthony Bottoms and Shadd Maruna – absolutely huge names in my field – so I am feeling particularly thrilled.

“The book attempts to bring the somewhat rarefied reflections of philosophy to the practical problems faced by those responsible for framing policy, passing sentence and putting criminal punishment into effect. The book argues that we could – and should – punish less without letting down victims or endangering our society.”

The synopsis for the book posits: “Why do we punish? Is it because only punishment can achieve justice for victims and 'right the wrong' of a crime? Or is it justified because it reduces crime, by deterring potential offenders, offering rehabilitative treatment to others and incapacitating the most dangerous?

“The complex answers to these enduring questions vary across time and place, and are directly linked to people's personal, cultural, social, religious and ethical commitments and even their sense of identity.

“This introduction to the philosophy of punishment provides a systematic analysis of the themes of retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation and restorative justice. Integrating philosophical, sociological, political and ethical perspectives, it provides a thorough and wide-ranging discussion of the purposes, meanings and justifications of punishment for crime and the extent to which punishment does, could or should live up to what it claims to achieve.”

It aims to challenge Criminology and Criminal Justice students as well as policy-makers, judges, magistrates and criminal justice practitioners to think more critically about the role of punishment and the moral principles that underpin it.

Posted on Thursday 27th July 2017

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