19 July 2005
Public Orator, Professor
Graham Farrell presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony
held on Tuesday 19 July 2005 at 10.30am
Chancellor, Senior Pro-Chancellor,
Pro-Chancellor, Treasurer, Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Chakrabarti, Ladies
and Gentlemen and Graduands.
Were he less modest, Professor
Herschel Prins could properly claim to be influential in the development
of criminology and forensic psychiatry in Britain. He has spent a professional
lifetime among psychopaths, arsonists, sexual deviants and people behaving
bizarrely and dangerously. He persists in seeking to improve society’s
treatment of mentally disordered offender-patients.
Professor Prins began his
career as a probation officer in 1952, soon collaborating with Donald
West, subsequently Director of the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge
University, in the assessment of offenders at the Stamford House Remand
Home. In fifty-three professionally active years to date, he has worked
at the Home Office and as Director of the School of Social Work at Leicester
University. He has been visiting professor at Leicester and Nottingham
Trent Universities and holds an honorary chair at Birmingham University.
Yet Loughborough claims him as its own. He officially retired in 1984.
Yet he has contributed to our Masters Degree in Criminology and Criminal
Justice for the last fifteen years. Recent student evaluations show
he remains the most popular lecturer on that course. He submitted a
full slate of publications to our latest national Research and Assessment
Exercise and his eleventh book ‘Offenders, Deviants or Patients?’
was published earlier this year. After around 200 published works, his
output shows no sign of slowing. We celebrate also his capacity to nurture
the careers of others as well as his personal humour and warmth, and
welcome to Loughborough today his wife of 44 years, Norma, and their
Professor Prins’ service
to his profession includes serving on the Parole Board, the Mental Health
Review Tribunal and the Mental Health Act Commission. He chaired the
Mental Health Advisory Committee of the National Association for the
Care and Resettlement of Offenders, and three enquiries into the deaths
or absconsion of offender-patients. He is currently on the editorial
board of six academic and professional journals. An indicator of esteem
by academic peers was the publication by colleagues of a tribute book
in 1999 entitled ‘Mentally Disordered Offenders: Managing People
Nobody Owns’. An indicator of the esteem of mental health professionals
was the 2001 opening of an eponymous treatment centre for patients who
committed crime as the result of mental illness. At Glenfield Hospital,
the Herschel Prins Centre Low Secure Unit is the first such facility
here in Leicestershire, allowing patients to be closer to family and
Perhaps the enduring theme
of his work has been the practicality of its focus, while never forgetting
that each mentally disordered offender represents a personal and family
tragedy, which must be dealt with humanely. To paraphrase Winston Churchill,
the mark of a civilisation is how it treats those over whom it has power.
This is a philosophy which informs Herschel Prins’ work, and with
which the University is proud to be associated.
Therefore, Chancellor, I
have the honour to present to you, and to the whole University, Professor
Herschel Prins for the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.