The idea behind the Trust
The Butler Trust was set up in 1985 by Veronica Linklater – now Baroness Linklater of Butterstone, former prison governor, Rev Peter Timms OBE, and David Astor, former editor of The Observer, to recognise and celebrate outstanding practice by those working with offenders, through an annual award scheme.
Why we’re the Butler Trust
The Trust is named after Richard Austen Butler (RAB), later Lord Butler of Saffron Walden.
As Home Secretary (from 1957 to 1962), RAB introduced a series of reforms to improve the management, care and rehabilitation of offenders (as set out in his 1959 White Paper “Penal Practice in a Changing Society“), and understood the pivotal role played by “those who are set over the prisoners, [especially] the ordinary prison officers who are in daily and hourly contact with them”.
To further the scientific understanding of criminality, RAB set up the Home Office Research Unit, and was the driving force behind the establishment of the Cambridge Institute of Criminology (as Leon Radzinowicz, its first Director acknowledged, the Institute “owes its birth to the initiative of R. A. Butler”). He also gave the go-ahead to the world’s first dedicated psychotherapeutic prison, Grendon.
And the 1975 Butler Report (which he oversaw after leaving office) led to significant improvements in the management and care of offenders with a mental illness.
While at the Home Office RAB also introduced legislation restricting the range of crimes then punishable by death, decriminalising suicide, and liberalising the laws on licensing, gambling and prostitution (his wish to do the same with regard to homosexuality having been blocked by his colleagues).
During his parliamentary career, as well as being Home Secretary, RAB served as President of the Board of Education, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister.
From launch to the present day
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal was approached to be the Trust’s Patron, and has been a constant and highly supportive presence ever since. Each year she presides over the Award Ceremony, presenting our Award Winners and Commendees with their certificates, as well as visiting many of them in their places of work afterwards.
Since its launch the Trust has widened its scope to bring first probation and then youth justice within its purview, and increasingly focuses not only on recognising excellence on the part of staff and volunteers working in correctional settings, but also on helping to further develop the work of our Award Winners and Commendees, and to share their and other people’s good practice more widely.