What if we abolished the dock? Rethinking court design and court ritual

Hosted by Department of Social Policy, Mannheim Centre for Criminology with the Howard League for Penal Reform

CLM.2.02, Clement House,


Paula Backen

Abigail Bright

Chris Henley

Linda Mulcahy

Meredith Rossner


Professor Peter Ramsay

This debate will bring together academics and legal professionals to debate the fairness of placing the accused in an enclosed dock during a criminal trial.  

The Howard League for Penal Reform has long been concerned with the placement of the accused at a criminal trial, launching an early campaign in the 1970s to abolish the use of dock to confine the accused during a trial.  Since that period, docks have become ever more commonplace and fortified, with defendants routinely enclosed in glass during a criminal hearing or trial.  This seminar will provide a forum to challenge this practice.  Two speakers will make the case for abolishing docks: Professor Linda Mulcahy (LSE) will present new research on the recent history and use of the dock, drawing on archival data from the Ministry of Justice to challenge the very basis of the widespread implementation of docks across England and Wales.  Dr. Meredith Rossner (LSE) will present research from an experiment examining whether the use of docks undermines the presumption of innocence. Respondents with experience and knowledge of the courtroom with discuss the proposals.  

New plans to modernise the court estate are underway- the time is now right to rethink what a courtroom should look like.   

Paula Backen, specialist in communication.

Abigail Bright (@DoughtyStCrime) is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers.  

Chris Henley QC at Carmelilte Chambers, vice-chair of the Criminal Bar Association.

Linda Mulcahy (@LindaMulcahy2) is Professor of Law at LSE.  

Meredith Rossner (@meredithrossner) is an Assistant Professor of Criminology in the Law Department and the co-director of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology.  

Peter Ramsay is a Professor of Law at LSE.  

The Department of Social Policy (@LSESocialPolicy) provides top quality international and multidisciplinary research and teaching on social and public policy challenges facing countries across the world.

The Mannheim Centre for criminology (@mannheimcrim) is an interdisciplinary hub for criminological research at the LSE.

The Howard League for Penal Reform (@TheHowardLeague) is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. It is the oldest penal reform charity in the world.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #whatif

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