Cumberland Lodge discussions to help address past harms and injustices

In 2021, Cumberland Lodge is exploring policing and criminal justice responses to past harms and injustices in the UK

Composite image of weighing scales (scales of justice) against a blurred courtroom background

Cumberland Lodge has launched a new series of work around policing and criminal justice approaches to addressing historical wrongs in society, with the aim of promoting successful and enduring reconciliation and the pursuit of wider social justice.

This Towards Justice project is part of our ongoing work on policing and criminal justice, guided by our Police Conference Steering Committee. Three public webinars in January and February 2021 will set the scene for a two-day virtual conference in June 2021, Towards Justice: Law Enforcement & Reconciliation, involving police officers at all levels, historians, legal professionals, charity representatives, academics, senior civil servants and research students.

Each webinar will be accompanied by an independent briefing document, prepared by our freelance Research Associate for this project, Professor Martina Feilzer.

We will be drawing on the ideas and experience of police officers at all levels, with input from academics and research students, policymakers and community representatives, including people whose lives have been personally affected by past harms and injustices.

Preparatory webinars

The three public webinars in this series are:

Everyone is welcome to attend the webinars, by registering in advance to join the discussions live on Zoom and submit questions to the panel during the course of the conversations. They can also be watched live on Facebook or the ‘What’s On’ pages of our website, and recordings will be published on our ‘Read, Watch, Listen’ webpages along with guest blog posts written by Cumberland Lodge Fellows.

Summer conference

A consolidated briefing document will be published ahead of this year’s Cumberland Lodge Police Conference, which takes place online from 17 to 18 June 2021, with a series of participatory sessions with intergenerational involvement.

Drawing on examples from the UK and overseas, delegates will examine how law enforcement can contribute to community reconciliation and the pursuit of wider social justice. 

Conference discussions will focus on the following questions:

  • How should we respond to moral shifts, which turn actions of the past, once considered legitimate or ordinary, into crimes or acts of discrimination and oppression?
  • How do we deal with new social and ethical standards to judge the past?
  • What are we trying to achieve with investigations – and how can other, non-police actors become involved in the process of creating accountability without focusing on blame?
  • Beyond police investigations, how can prominent public inquiries or independent panels contribute to addressing past wrongs?
  • What can public institutions learn from victim experience? And, what should be the role of victims and their testimony in attempts to investigate historical wrongs?
  • How should the relationship between the state and the media be designed in order to achieve both high levels of independent scrutiny and accessible communication?

A limited number of fully funded bursary places are available, thanks to the generous support of the Dawes Trust, to help doctoral students working in relevant fields to take part. Applications for these are open until 12pm on Friday 9 April 2021.

Key themes and recommendations from this conference and the preceding webinars will be published in a report, later this year, and launched in Westminster, London.

Further details of the conference programme and how to express an interest in getting involved can be found here. Please email our Programme team at to find out more.

Annual Police Conference

Our annual Police Conference series began in the early 1980s. Every summer, it convenes an influential, cross-sector gathering of speakers and delegates to stimulate fresh thinking on key issues regarding the relationship between the police and society.

This conference is now in its 39th year, and the current chair of its steering committee is Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney QPM of Hampshire Constabulary.

The Towards Justice: Law Enforcement & Reconciliation conference was originally due to take place in the summer of 2020 but it was postponed until June 2021 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.