About us

Who we are and why we should care

The ‘Is it a Crime to be Poor?’ alliance is a diverse group of people who, either individually or as part of their organisation, care deeply about the criminalisation of poverty. We believe it violates equality under the law and principles of social justice. Criminalisation of poverty is also economically and socially costly, and has negative spill-over effects on the whole of society.

Our alliance seeks to radically reduce the criminalisation of poverty and asks the following questions:

  • Why and how does the criminal justice system criminalise poverty? 
  • What can researchers, academics, practitioners and penal reform agencies, working together, do to end this (ab)use of the criminal justice system?

We hope to contribute to ending the criminalisation of poverty through:

  • Developing a shared understanding of the evidence of the link between poverty and alleged crime
  • Bridging gaps in our knowledge of the mechanisms that lead to criminalising the poor
  • Gaining awareness of existing campaigns and other ongoing work aiming to reduce the criminalisation of poverty
  • Publicly discussing the issues surrounding the criminalisation of poverty
  • Building links with other practitioners, academics and campaigners to take steps together towards reducing the criminalisation of poverty.

Learn more about our initiatives on the decriminalisation of TV licence and council tax here. About our initiatives on the decriminalisation of homelessness here and covid, poverty and criminalisation here.

Currently, the following organisations and persons constitute our alliance:

Juste Abramovaite, Research Fellow, Institute for Global Innovation, University of Birmingham

Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, Professor of Economics, Director, Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing, University of Birmingham

Tara Casey, Women’s Justice Caseworker, APPEAL

Rona Epstein, Honorary Research Fellow, Coventry Law School, Coventry University

Martine Lignon, Chair, Prisoners’ Advice Service 

Naima Sakande, Deputy Director, APPEAL

Stephen Crossley, Assistant Professor in Sociology, University of Durham

Michelle Addison, Assistant Professor in Criminology, University of Durham

Patrick Saunders, Director carolan57 Ltd

Anna Kotova, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Birmingham

Carl Parsons, Emeritus Professor of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University

Zahra Wynne, Policy Manager, Revolving Doors

Debjani Dasgupta, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham

Tara Lai Quinian, Assistant Professor in Law, University of Birmingham

Karen Nokes, Lecturer in Law, UCL

Steve Tombs, Emeritus Professor of Criminology at The Open University

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