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Here you can find detailed information on each of the themes that served as inspiration to the commissioned artists

Themes: Text


Societal mores around the treatment of children have evolved immeasurably over the last 100 years and this is very clearly reflected in the development of legislation around the topic, which covers everything from the right to an education and introduction of the legal concept of ‘parental responsbility’, to the abolition of forced conscription and the ban on corporal punishment. 

The first identification of children as individuals with rights, rather than objects of concern, is usually associated with the work of Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children. This organisation, set up in 1919, operated under a Declaration of Child Rights which was the first global charter protecting the rights of a particular section of the community focused on children. 

Since the 1970s emphasis has increasingly been placed on giving young people more autonomy through legal entitlement. The current debate about children's rights is sometimes said to turn on an underlying question: are children essentially the same as adults, and therefore deserve all the same human rights to freedom and autonomy? Or are they fundamentally different, in need of a special set of rights, to protect them in a cocoon of childhood? 

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It is generally held that the UK Government's programme of reforms to the social security system is having a disproportionate impact on children's rights to an adequate standard of living and social security. The best interests of the child have not always been a primary consideration in the decisions taken by the UK Government in implementing reforms such as the implementation of the household benefit cap and some of the provisions of the UK Government's Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. Reductions in child poverty rates depend on government measures, and the UK has not come close to achieving the targets set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010. 

What is the long-term impact of social security reform on children and child poverty? Funding is being cut to crucial children's mental health services in England, whilst demand for these services is rising. In Wales, funding is not meeting the increased demand for services. Difficulties accessing children and adolescent mental health services have been reported. Children detained under the Mental Health Act in England and Wales continue to be held in police cells. What are the dangers if this is not addressed? What does this mean for the mental health of children and young adults, particularly those in care, over the coming decades? 

Gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, placement in the care of a local authority (looked-after children), and Gypsy, Roma or Traveller ethnicity have all been shown to impact a child's educational attainment at GCSE level4 in England and Wales. New measures are being introduced, but are they enough? What are the long term ramifications? 

The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old, the lowest in Europe by a considerable margin. The government is currently not considering undertaking a review of this. Children in the criminal justice system could be better protected both at trial and in detention, where many are subjected to restraint and isolation. 

How might this develop over the coming decades? What questions must we ask ourselves?

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The term 'gender' originally came into widespread use to refer to those differences which are given by society and perpetuated through upbringing, as distinct from differences which are dictated by biology.

Over the last 100 years, positioning of gender in UK society has progressed rapidly, encompassing changing gender roles and the recognition of more than two genders. It might have seemed obvious that these non-biological differences could be easily erased and, indeed, over the last 100 years, UK society has made great leaps and bounds. Women have joined the workforce, own property, and control their own reproductive rights. 

However, gender divides are pernicious. It is reported that women in the justice system have different and more severe needs than men. They form approximately 5% of the prison population and 15% of those serving a community sentence.  Over 53% of women in the criminal justice system experienced abuse as children, compared to 27% of men. Far more women than men are primary carers for children, with significant consequences for the children of those who go to prison, as well as the mothers. 49% of women in prison suffer from both anxiety and depression, as compared to 23% of men. Some are engaged in street sex work and significant numbers have chronic substance misuse problems.

While the law is often described as ‘made for men, by men’, it cannot be said that men escape the impact of societal preconceptions. Men currently make up the majority of the prison population, have higher rates of recidivism, and are more likely to commit violent crimes.

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Transgender rights in the United Kingdom have been gaining ground since the 1990s, with the granting of rights and protection to the transgender community. Government figures have revealed that while more than half of UK prisons house transgender prisoners, less than one-tenth of trans inmates are in the correct facility for their gender. Of 163 trans inmates in England and Wales in November 2019, only 11 are housed in the correct facility for their gender - and the prison watchdog indicated that suggests there are up to 1,500 transgender inmates among the 90,000 prisoners in England and Wales, more than ten times previous estimates. The UK's first prison unit for transgender inmates opened in 2019. How might provisions for trans people in the justice system develop over the coming decades?

Short sentences are known to be less effective at preventing reoffending than community sentences. This is of particular relevance to women, who tend to serve shorter sentences than men. Historically, outcomes for women sentenced to imprisonment have been poor. 48% of women are reconvicted within one year of leaving prison and this rises to 61% for sentences of less than 12 months. Taking that into account, as well as the impact of short custodial sentences on mothers and their children, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of women will comply with a community order or conditions of licence (95% of women compared with 76% of men), there is a strong push to move away from short custodial sentences for women.  

What other gendered justice measures may be taken over the coming decades? Is this a move in the right direction?

Themes: Text


Prison is an important and integral part of the criminal justice system in every country. Used appropriately, it plays a crucial role in upholding the rule of law by helping to ensure that alleged offenders are brought to justice and by providing a sanction for serious wrongdoing. At best prisons should be able to offer a humane experience with opportunities for prisoners to obtain assistance and help with rehabilitation.

Throughout the twentieth century, the role of prisons in the UK developed along the principles of The Prison Act 1898, which asserted reformation - not retribution - as the main role of prison regimes. This led to fundamental changes including a separate system of establishments for young offenders, the abolition of hard labour, and established the idea that prison work should be productive, not least for the prisoners, who should be able to earn their livelihood on release.

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Since the early 1990s, we’ve seen the prison population almost double, from about 45,000 in 1993 to just over 83,000 in 2008. Since then, it has been broadly stable. This is the highest rate of imprisonment almost anywhere in western Europe.

While prison numbers have levelled off in recent years, cuts to budgets and a failure to tackle prison overcrowding has led to record levels of violence and self-injury in prisons. Last year, David Gauke, then Secretary of State for Justice asked ‘Are we running our prisons in a way which maximises offenders’ chances of turning their lives around, of going on to gainful employment and rejoining society as a responsible citizen? And should we be seeking opportunities in the coming years to find better and alternative ways of punishing as well as rehabilitating offenders?

How will the role of prisons develop over the next hundred years? We are currently seeing the rollout of new technology, such as GPS tagging programme which will allow offenders’ movements to be more effectively monitored and alcohol monitoring systems, as well as an increase the number of community sentences with mental health, drug and alcohol treatment requirements. 

What further developments will there be over the next 100 years and will physical prisons even still exist as a concept in 2120? Do we want them to?

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Who has access to our information, what they can do with it, and the possible repercussions of its misuse have rapidly become hot topic issues. The earlier part of the century saw small scale crimes of identity theft, but the internet and the myriad ways in which our data may be misused gave birth to increasingly stringent data protection laws, which have developed rapidly over the years.

Some of the key highlights include: 1948 Right to Privacy; 1967 Freedom of Information Act; 1981 Data Protection Convention (Right to Privacy became a legal imperative); in 1995 the European Data Protection Directive was created, reflecting technological advances and introducing new terms including “processing”, “sensitive personal data” and “consent”, among others; 2010 Wikileaks; 2014 “right to be forgotten” or the legal right to ask Google and other search engines to remove results for queries that include your name; 2016 GDPR.

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The last few years of the ‘teens’ were rocked by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic at Cambridge University, got permission from Facebook to pull data via an app he created. Kogan’s app, ‘thisismydigitallife’, was a personality quiz Facebook users could take. To take the quiz, users had to consent to give the app access to their and their friends’ Facebook profiles. More than 270,000 people used the app and took the quiz. However, because they consented to give the app access to their friends’ profiles, too, Kogan ended up collecting data from far more. Initially, the estimate was 50 million raw profiles, of which about 30 million could be matched with other records that helped identify people. Now, Facebook says 87 million users’ profiles “may have been improperly shared” with Cambridge.

Cambridge Analytica was the brains behind Kogan’s operation and ended up spending about $7 million on this data. Both Facebook and Cambridge have faced enormous criticism for these activities but - in the wake of them and links to the Trump campaign, EU referendum, Russia and the Ukraine - we have to ask ourselves questions. 

In the age of social media, where we click on consent forms and agree to cookie without a thought, who owns our information? What are they doing with it? On the internet, we are often the product. Do we care? What further developments in the harvesting and use of our information might the next 100 years bring and how is the law to keep up?

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The UK saw an influx of economic migrants after World War II, many from the Commonwealth countries. The Race Relations Act 1965 was the first legislation in the United Kingdom to address racial discrimination. The Act outlawed discrimination on the "grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins" in public places in Great Britain. It was not a rigorous or strictly enforced piece of legislation, but formed the foundation for the legislation and activism that followed in the latter half of the century.

However, issues of discrimination and the relationship between race and crime remain hot button issues. Under the Criminal Justice Act 1991, section 95, the government collects annual statistics based on race and crime. In June 2007 the Home Affairs Select Committee published a report on young black people and the criminal justice system of England and Wales, which said that young black people were overrepresented at all stages of the criminal justice system. 

Police officers have the power to stop and search individuals under a range of legislation. Comparative analysis by researchers at the London School of Economics and the Open Society Justice Initiative has shown that, in England and Wales in 2008/09, black people were 26 times more likely, and Asian people were 6.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. The OSJI researchers stated that these figures highlighted that Britain had the widest "race gap" in stop-and-searches that they had uncovered internationally. There is strong evidence that, once stopped and searched, black people are no more likely than white people to be arrested, suggesting that they are disproportionately targeted.

In November 2009, the Home Office published a further study that showed that, once other variables had been accounted for, ethnicity was not a significant predictor of offending, anti-social behaviour or drug abuse amongst young people. The 2017 Lammy Review highlighted the unequal, disproportionate and harsher treatment of BME people (including Gypsies Roma and Irish Travellers, and black and Asian Muslims) in comparison to their white peers.

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According to the Ministry of Justice and Office for National Statistics: 

  • In the last five years, the proportion of stop and searches involving Black suspects in London increased from 30% to 37%, now equal to the number of White suspects searched.

  • In 2018/19, two thirds (67%) of children arrested in London were from minority ethnic groups, compared to 21% of children arrested in the rest of England and Wales.

  • White defendants consistently had the highest conviction ratio for indictable offences over the last 5 years (with the exception of 2015) and was 85% in 2018.

  • Black prisoners served the greatest proportion of their original sentence in custody.

Black people and ethnic minorities remain more likely to be arrested, sentenced and detained in high security prisons than White people and a disproportionate number of Black and ethnic minority people die while being restrained by police.

There is a need for systemic change in race inequality and suggestions as to how this might be achieved range from addressing the lack of ethnic diversity within the judiciary and police forces in England and Wales to innovative interventions such as ‘deferred’ prosecutions that would give defendants an opportunity for targeted rehabilitation instead of immediately entering a plea, as well as giving local communities and families a role in the administration of youth justice. An intersectional approach is required, as Black people and other ethnic minorities are not only subject to disadvantage in the criminal justice system, but also in education, employment, income, living standards and healthcare – areas which fundamentally determine people’s life chances.

What does the future hold for race and criminal justice in England and Wales?

Themes: Text


At the beginning of the 20th century, male homosexual acts remained illegal and were punishable by imprisonment. Conversely, lesbians were never acknowledged or targeted by legislation. LGBT+ rights first came to prominence following the decriminalisation of sexual activity between men, in 1967 in England and Wales. Since the turn of the 21st century, LGBT+ rights have increasingly strengthened in support. Some discrimination protections had existed for LGBT+ people since 1999, but were extended to all areas under the Equality Act 2010. Today, LGBT+ citizens have most of the same legal rights as non-LGBT+ citizens and the UK provides one of the highest degrees of liberty in the world for its LGBT+ communities. 

However, high rates of crime against members of the LGBT+ community across the country and the feelings of disempowerment and lack of support from the criminal justice system reported by the victims. Stonewall’s Gay in Britain report found that half of lesbian, gay and bisexual people would expect to face barriers to becoming a magistrate because of their sexual orientation, and one in six would expect worse treatment than a heterosexual person if appearing before a magistrate for a minor criminal offence.

Themes: Text


As a society, and legally, we are moving away from the concept of gender as a binary, and towards it as a spectrum. The recognition of trans and intersex people in law, and the current debates around trans rights highlight that. There is a general perception (generally by non LGBT+ people) that LGBT+ rights have been won and the conversation is ‘done’. However, according to reserach by Stonewall, the proportion of lesbian, gay and bi people who have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year because of their sexual orientation increased from nine per cent in 2013 to 16 per cent in 2017. Two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months. Four in five anti-LGBT+ hate crimes and incidents go unreported, with younger LGBT+ people particularly reluctant to go to the police.

Furthermore, the British government has said it is unaware how many intersex children are currently subject to surgeries on the NHS. These include operations for which there is no medical need and where no consent has been obtained from the patient. It can lead to young patients effectively being assigned a sex that they may not identify with. There has been a groundswell of condemnation of unnecessary surgeries by intersex advocates in recent years. The UN Convention Against Torture and the World Health Organisation have also publicly opposed procedures where there is no medical basis but, rather, an attempt to "normalise" the infant. In 2017, a BBC investigation into the treatment of intersex children at Great Ormond Street Hospital concluded it was "failing" such patients and "not meeting care standards".

The conversation is far from over. What developments will the next decades bring for LGBT+ rights and their implementation? What is the future that we want?

Themes: Text


Freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. The UK provides for freedom of expression as a qualified right that may be restricted in certain circumstances as prescribed by law. 

Censorship in the United Kingdom has a history with various stringent and lax laws in place at different times and UK laws on defamation are among the strictest in the western world, imposing a high burden of proof on the defendant. Since 1857, a series of obscenity laws known as the Obscene Publications Acts have governed what can be published in England and Wales. The Obscene Publications Act 1959 significantly reformed the law related to obscenity, introducing exceptions for innocent dissemination and artistic merit. Legislation (and public attitudes) have developed greatly over the course of the century and, as of 2019, pornography depicting consenting adults engaged in legal acts would no longer be prosecuted, provided no serious harm was caused and the likely audience was over the age of 18.

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A number of different UK laws outlaw hate speech. Among them is Section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986 (POA), which makes it an offence for a person to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause  another person harassment, alarm or distress”. This law has been revised over the years to include language that is deemed to incite “racial and religious hatred”, as well as “hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation” and language that “encourages terrorism”. As of 2019, the Law Commission is conducting a review into hate crime to explore how to make current legislation more effective and to consider if there should be additional protected characteristics such as misogyny and age.

Social media sites are being given a duty of care to restrict “behaviours which are harmful but not necessarily illegal.

There is considerable debate around the criminalisation of language (or behaviour) which may be unpleasant and offensive, but which is not illegal or inciting violence. Is this a good thing? What will freedom of expression in the UK look like in 100 years? How do we want it to look?

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Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members, and the right of an association to accept or decline membership based on certain criteria. It is manifested through the right to join a trade union, to engage in free speech or to participate in debating societies, political parties, or any other club or association, including religious denominations and organizations, fraternities, and sport clubs. 

In the last 100 years of UK history, this has been most relevant in our labour laws, particularly as they relate to trade unions. A union is an organised association of workers in a trade, group of trades, or profession, formed to protect and further their rights and interests. Over the course of the last century, the unionisation of labour has been subject to numerous strictures and sanctions and - under different governments - either embraced or regarded as a communist/Bolshevik threat.

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The Internet, and especially social media, is enabling us to become members of our own personal tribes–communities in which we actively participate but may never actually encounter a fellow tribesperson in the flesh. ‘Digital tribes’ are unofficial community of people who share a common interest, and usually are affiliated with each other through social media or other Internet mechanisms. The ubiquity of smartphones is the major driver of the creation of online social-tribes where individuals band together based on demographics and shared interests, choosing whom they wish to connect and share with.

The role of social media in the ‘Arab Spring’ (a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests in the Middle East and North Africa between 2010 and 2012) and the utilisation of meme culture by the growing global alt-right movement indicate quite clearly that these digital tribes are an incredibly powerful force to be reckoned with. 

Are traditional concepts of ‘association’ to be left in the early 21st century and what will replace them? Digital tribalism is already a rapidly growing trend, could we see this evolve into something more concrete and legally recognised? What does this mean from a legal standpoint - particularly as physical/national borders become irrelevant?

Themes: Text


Before the development of the modern justice system, historically justice was largely the responsibility of the victim or their family, who were primarily responsible for identifying and punishing the offender. As the justice system developed and the state took responsibility for investigating crime, trying defendants and punishing offenders, the victim’s role in the process was marginalised. Victims were seen almost exclusively as witnesses, there to support the prosecution but without a specific role beyond that in the process. A century ago, victims were arguably a forgotten party in the justice system.

Since then, a victims’ movement has emerged in England and Wales, leading to a more prominent role for victims in the debate around the justice system and a range of policy and practice changes intended to both give victims a more prominent role in the system and provide more support to victims, to help them recover from crime. This has included the introduction of compensation for victims, the development of support services for victims (both those who report crimes to the police and those who do not), and steps to give victims a limited input into sentencing through the introduction of Victims Personal Statements. Restorative justice, which gives victims the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders to explain the impact of the crime, has also been made more widely available. An increased awareness of the prevalence of violence against women and girls has also seen more support made available, both in court and in the community, to victims of these crimes.

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Looking forward, on the immediate horizon a long-promised Victims’ Law is expected imminently. It will need to clarify what rights victims should have within an adversarial criminal justice system and how these rights should be enforced. 

How can victims’ rights best be enhanced, without compromising defendants’ rights? And how can victims’ privacy be protected, particularly in sexual offences, while still allowing a comprehensive investigation to be conducted in a digital age? 

Further work is also needed on how we can best support victims from marginalised communities, who never tell the police what has happened to them, and on finding the right balance between providing general support for all victims and specialised support for victims of particular crimes, such as domestic abuse or human trafficking. 

Looking further ahead, as new forms of crime emerge, particularly online, how can we best support victims of these crimes to recover and move on?

Themes: Text


For the UK (and, indeed, the world) the 20th century was a period that experienced unprecedented levels of upheaval and change including two world wars, the end of empire, significant shifts in gender relations and ethnic mix, and a decline in the power of the economy. This naturally resulted in marked changes in attitudes towards crime as well as developments in policing, in the courts and penal sanctions. Additionally, over the last third of the century, crime became increasingly central to political agendas. What was legally and socially perceived as ‘justice’ naturally evolved. 

By 1900 the worries the Victorians had about the uneducated masses in the cities and about crime had dwindled. There was universal education, better housing, the police were an accepted part of British life and the crime rate was lower. British governments in the first two thirds of the 20th century felt able to embark on new penal policies which emphasised reform rather than punishment.

Punitive rules were relaxed in prisons, so that prisoners could lead more normal lives. In an attempt to deal with unemployment and family breakdown, which often led ex-prisoners back to crime, they were given meaningful work, with pay, and family visits were made easier. Even more controversially, capital punishment, the ultimate punishment throughout all history, was abolished in 1965.

However, times changed in the last decades of the century. Crime was increasing, young people were involved in violent crime, often associated with football hooliganism. There was less sympathy with trying to reform offenders, more sympathy for the victims of crime and more desire to punish. Borstals were closed and Detention Centres, giving a "short, sharp shock" were started. From 1972, offenders could be given Community Service Orders. This meant doing many hours of socially worthwhile work to show that the offender was repaying a debt to society. In the 1990s tagging was introduced for offenders as a way of keeping them out of trouble. In some areas offenders have been brought face-to-face with their victims in an effort to help both get over the crime and move on.

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What is the future of justice (and our perception of it) in the UK, over the next 100 years? Based on all of the above themes, their evolution and their possible futures, what do you envisage as the overarching future of justice in the UK?

Themes: Text


What did you think of the exhibition overall? What questions did this show raise for you? Do you want to give feedback to any of the artists?

We would love you to sign our digital visitor book and let us know!

Themes: About
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