A New Hand on the Tiller at the Australian Institute of Criminology

Publication Date01 December 1983
Date01 December 1983
OF CRIMINOLOGY (December 1983) 16 (193-195)
A New Hand on the Tiller at the Australian Institute of Criminology
appointment has recently been announced by the Federal Government of
Professor Richard Harding as the new Director of the Australian Institute of
Criminology. Professor Harding, Dean of Law at the University of Western
Australia, takes up a three year term at the Institute very early in 1984. He succeeds
Mr William Clifford, the foundation Director.
many years Richard Harding has been prominent in Australian legal and
criminological circles. At the academic and professional levels he is possibly best
known for his three books, Police Killings in Australia, Penguin, 1970, Outside
Interference: The Politics
Australian Broadcasting, Sun Books, 1979and Firearms
Violence in Australian Life:
Ownership and Use in
Australia, University of Western Australia Press, 1981. These books have attracted
a high degree of critical acclaim and interest and have established his reputation as
a first rate analyst and assessor of a range of important Australian criminological
public policy issues.
In addition, Harding's outspokenness, his involvement in, and penchant for,
public debate on important criminological issues, and the flourish and cogency with
which he presses his point of view, have consistently attracted media attention and
made him a well-known public figure on a national level - quite a rare thing in
Australia for a person who operates from a scholarly and academic base, and a
distinct advantage, one would suspect, for the Director of a national crime body.
the announcement of his appointment the Director-Designate issued a
Press Release which identified the tasks which will be given high priority by the
Institute under its new leadership. Those specified were as follows:
The completion of a national system for the regular, prompt, accurate and
comprehensive collection and publication of crime and criminal justice
completion of the Sentencing Reference carried out in 1979-80 by the
Australian Law Reform Commission.
analysis of the factors underlying the extraordinarily high Aboriginal
imprisonment rate prevailing throught Australia.
Some comment on this set of priorities is in order. The first thing is that they are
all clearly matters of great significance and certainly worthy of close and sustained
attention from the Institute. The problems of high Aboriginal imprisonment rates
and sentencing are, of course, closely intertwined and their discussion and analysis
is in turn dependent upon the availability of a comprehensive body of statistical and
data. Individually, the proposals raise interesting issues. The call for more
statistical information is a perennial one and the state of such information in
Australia is appalling. The compilation and presentation of data on imprisonment
in Australia is a major achievement of the Institute in providing a service to the

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