Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Immigration: The long and winding road to being British

. . . is my latest column for the Solicitors Journal.

We're not angry when politicians break promises - it's what we expect

.... is the title of my latest column for The Journal published last Friday, but can be read HERE.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Boris and Gove are becoming the Brexit Chuckle Brothers - and it isn't funny (or truthful)

My latest statement on the "Brexit fightback" today by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove --

·         Boris and Gove sound more and more like the Brexit Chuckle Brothers – they’re having a laugh about migration fears.

·         There is no “free-for-all” on migration. The UK controls who can enter its borders – leaving the EU doesn’t change that.

·         There is no “unfettered” right of EU migrants to come and go into Britain. Like all rights, there are responsibilities. EU migrants can – and are – deported when abusing rights of travel in the EU. As Justice Secretary, Gove should know this or be informed by his advisors.

·         But what Boris and Gove don’t tell you is Brexit would mean the Dublin regulation on asylum seekers would no longer apply to Britain. The regulation is an EU agreement that asylum seekers entering the EU from one country must have any claim for asylum heard in that country. This supports deportations from countries like Britain to others on the EU’s southern border. But if there was a Brexit, Britain is out of this agreement and must assess all claims in the UK.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Institute of Advanced Study fellowships at Durham University for 2017-18

Durham University has launched its call for applications to its Institute of Advanced Study fellowships for 2017-18. The IAS runs thematic calls each year and the next is on Structure.

Our Law School can nominate fellowships - or applicants can apply without a nomination - and I would be very happy to support nominations, as the in-coming Head of School from August.

One thing that should be kept in mind is that all visiting fellows at the IAS must establish some collaborative undertaking with a Durham academic. This is broadly construed covering joint publications or research projects, a co-convened workshop or event and other 'outputs'.
Details about nomination are at A CV for the proposed Fellow should be appended to the nomination pro forma, with details of how the University will benefit from the proposed research activity. The deadline for nominations and applications is 10th June 2016.

Further details about the IAS Fellowship are at

Thursday, April 07, 2016


General website can be found HERE.  My submission today is as follows:


Written submission by Prof Thom Brooks, Durham University’s Law School[1]


How are prisoners helped to find employment; is support available both pre and post-release?

More can be done to support ex-offenders to find employment both pre and post-release:

Recommendation1: Support for short-term offenders in prisons

Most offenders serve less than one year in prison. Yet most rehabilitative efforts in prisons are reserved for offenders with longer sentences. The result is that most offenders transitioning through the criminal justice system lack access to rehabilitative treatments while in custody. These treatments include several that could yield significant benefits for offenders serving short-term sentences, including drug and alcohol treatments and cognitive behavioural therapy (‘CBT’).[2]

An offender’s problems do not start when imprisoned – instead, prison is a kind of confirmation that problems exist. The problems referred to here are risk factors for future offending – including drug and alcohol abuse[3] and mental health issues – that can be improved through treatment.[4] There is evidence that treatment in these areas can be delivered effectively in prisons[5] – and evidence that is reserved for the fewer serving longer sentences. The rationale is that prisons work with limited resources and greater gains are believed possible for offenders with longer sentences of over one year. More can and should be done to extend such treatment to more offenders. If these crucial risk factors can be reduced or eliminated, this will better enable a successful transition into long-term employment.[6]

Recommendation 2: Provide Incentives for Restoration of Rights

A criminal record can be a barrier to employment that cannot be discounted. This will be a bar to finding work limiting the kinds of work and employers available. This is inevitable and permissible in proportion to an offender’s wrongdoing.

It is possible for some offenders to erase their criminal records through participating in a restorative justice mediation or conference and fulfilling contractual terms.[7] But there remain barriers for offenders who serve time in prison.

Several American states, most notably New York State, are making use of new Restoration of Rights powers.[8] These permit offenders on release to apply for employment without stating criminal convictions if meeting certain conditions.[9] These might include being open to offenders serving minimal terms in prison for specific minor offences and after a period of time on release without further convictions. This rewards those who have remained lawful by restoring their rights to work as if never a prisoner – and can open up more options for work in the long term on continued good behaviour over the short term. Conditions might still disqualify applying for work in some sectors like schools.

Recommendation 3: Encourage Sentencing Council to Revisit Guidelines

Section 142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 lists purposes of sentencing and these include the rehabilitation of offenders. Existing guidelines might benefit from a more explicit engagement with this purpose (and the others) to mandate some element of rehabilitation where possible in prison or post-release, including employability training.

What benefit payments are available on discharge from prison and how long does it take to access those benefits?

No comment.

Do the employment and education programmes available in prisons prepare prisoners for formal employment?

I would recommend bolstering these programmes by providing incentives for higher and further educational institutions to support their launch and/or maintenance. This is a precedent in American states.

What support do offenders receive to help them find suitable accommodation on leaving prison?

No comment.

What are the impacts of factors such as homelessness and unemployment on the propensity to re-offend?

The available evidence suggests homelessness and unemployment are high risk factors for future re-offending. There is clear overlap with other high risk factors like financial insecurity and can overlap with mental health needs.[10]

Submitted by Professor Thom Brooks, Chair in Law and Government, Durham Law School, Durham University, email:  on 7 April 2016

[1] Professor Thom Brooks FAcSS FHEA FRHisS FRSA, Chair in Law and Government, Durham Law School, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, email:, @thom_brooks,
[2] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 51—55.
[3] See Thom Brooks, ‘Alcohol and Public Policy’, Contemporary Social Science 8(1) (2013): 1—7; Thom Brooks (ed.), Alcohol and Public Policy (London: Routledge, 2015); Thom Brooks, ‘Alcohol, Risks and Public Policy’ in (ed.), Alcohol and Public Policy (London: Routledge, 2015): 27—33 and Thom Brooks, ‘Alcohol and Controlling Risks Through Nudges’, The New Bioethics 21(1) (2015): 46—55.
[4] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 179—187, see also 66—67 and 73—75 and Graham J. Towl, ‘Drug-Misuse Intervention Work’ in (ed.), Psychological Research in Prisons (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006).
[5] See George W. Joe, et. al., ‘An Evaluation of Six Brief Interventions That Target Drug-Related Problems in Correctional Populations’, 51 Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 9 (2012) and M. Daly, et. al., ‘Cost-Effectiveness of COneccticut’s In-Prison Substance Abuse Treatment’, 39 Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 69 (2004).
[6] See further research in Thom Brooks, ‘Stakeholder Sentencing’ in Julian Roberts and Jesper Ryberg (eds), Popular Punishment: On the Normative Significance of Public Opinion for Penal Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014): 447—465.
[7] See. See further research in Thom Brooks, ‘On Punitive Restoration’, Demos Quarterly 2 (2014): 41—44 and Thom Brooks, ‘Punitive Restoration: Rehabilitating Restorative Justice’, Raisons Politiques (2015): 65—81.
[8] New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, ‘Who is Eligible for a Certificate of Relief ?’ ( Interestingly, the Certificate of Relief and Certificate of Good Conduct are both designed explicitly with a view to ‘the restoration of rights’. See New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, ‘Restoration of Rights’ ( See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 212.
[9] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 143—147.
[10] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 54, 60—61, 83—84, 144—146, 186—187, 207—9, 212—214.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

STATEMENT: EU Commission reforms of common asylum policy UPDATE

Statement by Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government at Durham University's Law School:

·         The EU Commission is clear: the current system “was not designed to ensure a sustainable sharing of responsibility of asylum applications”. In other words, the Dublin Regulation must be reformed to deal with the continuing migrant crisis.

·         The EU Commission problems exist with how the Regulation has been implemented in general – noting “serious shortcomings” – and that more must be done in working with third countries. But even a more strictly applied Dublin Regulation would be unsustainable in the long term too “in the face of continuing migratory pressure”.

·         In response, the EU Commission has five priorities so the system can be “structurally improved”, such as making the system more sustainable and fair, and by “strengthening and harmonising further” current rules.

·         This will involve – and I quote – “a new Regulation” to “reform” the current system “as a matter of priority”.

·         And none of this will happen until AFTER the EU Referendum vote in the UK.

UPDATE: This can have profound implications. If the EU ends the current asylum policy (Dublin Regulation) in favour of a new Regulation, the UK will have to make a choice whether to be in or out. There would be no option to keep the current deal which the government favours. Any new deal would not be as preferable, but opting out might be even less so. Either way, much that the government will protest - but first it must win the vote to stay in before making the case against this reform that now looks inevitable with only the details of its implementation to follow (and on a strict timetable for this summer - this is going to move quickly).

I can be contacted by EMAIL HERE


STATEMENT: Cruz and Sanders gain big wins, but what does it mean for Trump and Clinton?

A statement on the latest primary results from Wisconsin:

Bernie’s big win causes more headaches for Hillary. While he remains a long shot to win the nomination, the longer he delays Hillary becoming the Democrat’s candidate then the more resources it drains from Hillary’s war chest to take on the Republican nominee.


There is a real difference between the camps in an increasingly heated contest – raising the issue of whether the party can come together to support whoever becomes the nominee.


But the problems for Democrats are nothing like that for Republicans. Cruz’s win is not as important as Trump’s defeat. The Donald’s seemingly unstoppable – and improbably – race to the Republican nomination has faced its first serious set-back as the backlash against his candidacy gets some legs.


Incredibly, this backlash has been orchestrated by the party’s establishment in an unprecedented coordinated attack on a Republican front runner for the White House by Republicans – I cannot recall anything like this happening before.


Much of Trump’s rise has been unpredictable and no one should assume the end is nigh for his campaign. But the shock in Wisconsin could happen again soon – and if it does, Trump’s chances may finally be cast into serious doubt.

Monday, April 04, 2016

STATEMENT: Thom Brooks on return of migrants to Turkey today

A statement by Thom Brooks - Professor of Law and Government at Durham University - on the return of migrants in Greece to Turkey under the terms of the EU-Turkey 'one out, one in' deal:

·         The EU deal with Turkey on migration is already under severe strain.


·         The EU has only half the border guards needed to handle deportations, the Greek government has struggled to identify migrants for deportation because of a lack of translators and both the EU and Greece have been overwhelmed by the hundreds of migrants claiming asylum over the weekend.


·         As the first boat of 200 migrants is returned to Turkey, another 200 Syrian nationals will be sent off to Greece in a one-for-one swap.


·         This is meant to discourage and deter migrants from crossing over into Greece – and so reduce migration into Europe. But it is unclear still whether a one-for-one swap will have that effect. Nor is it clear that if this migration route is tightened, then others will not soon open up as migrants seek entry to the EU.


·         Either way, this issue is certain to remain alive throughout the referendum campaign - deflecting attention away from the PM’s reform plans for the EU.



UPDATE (6 April 2016): The return of migrants from Greece to Turkey is now suspended. Serious questions remain over the safe return of migrants to Turkey and what happens next. The current arrangement is for migrants to be returned to their native countries, but this is difficult, costly and takes time with many of these countries still unsafe.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Journal of Moral Philosophy makes ERIH PLUS journals list

. . . further information here. The ERIH PLUS list is the premier group of academic journals in Philosophy and other subjects (where there are such lists compiled by the ESF).

Friday, April 01, 2016

The legal war of words over the Calais jungle

. . . is the title of my recent column for the Solicitors Journal [READ MORE HERE].

Many thanks to Sciences Po Paris

. . . for inviting me to speak at their fabulous event "Villes et Migrations" held at College des Bernardins in Paris over this past week. A fabulous conference with engaging speakers from academia and public policy circles. I learned a lot - and in a most gorgeous location.

As an aside, it is increasingly clear to me that Sciences Po has one of the very best Political Theory programmes anywhere - and everyone also seems to have much better English than me, too. A seriously outstanding programme to keep an eye on with some great new talent.