[The book] is one of great distinction, scholarship and wit. ...a pleasure to read and which, itself, is a primary source of evidence from which much can be learnt.
–Punishment and Society
Sir Leon Radzinowicz is one of the key figures in the development of criminology in the twentieth century. This account of the development of criminology intertwines his personal narrative as a criminologist with the progression of criminology itself.
How marvellous that Sir Leon has been spared to write this great book. He approaches his ninety-second birthday and his century is in sight. His admirers and disciples all over the world will celebrate its publication and will want to congratulate him on yet another marvellous achievement. After all, it is a quarter of a century since he retired in 1972 and a more impressive seventy years since he graduated at the age of twenty-two, magna cum laude, from the Institute of Criminology in Rome. Professor Roger Hood, in the introduction to Sir Leon’s Festschrift—Crime, Criminology and Public Policy (1973)—accurately forecast it was impossible to imagine him in a state of leisurely retirement.
There could not be a better time for the Adventures to be published. Criminology, thanks to Sir Leon’s influence, may be flourishing in Britain but the penal system of the country has lost its way. We have forsaken Sir Leon’s message and instead of tackling the fundamental causes of crime we are sending more and more people to prison for longer and longer periods, ignoring the expense and ignoring the effect of overcrowding on the ability of the Prison Service to promote training and education for the inmates which are its responsibility. In the early 1990s, the prison population was 40,000 and falling. The Prison Service was focusing on developing regimes, preparing prisoners for release and maintaining family links. The service was seeking to make the criticism, that prisons are an expensive way of making people worse, unjustified. Now the population is over 60,000 and rising and we are back to crisis management. Once again the cancer of overcrowding is eating at the heart of constructive initiatives promoted by the service. The lessons learnt as a result of the Strangeways epidemic of riots are being forgotten. Recent events underline the relevance of Sir Leon’s comment that ‘international experience shows that as public concern about crime and its control increases, pressures to roll back the liberal procedures for bringing offenders to justice become more acute’.