Obituary: Professor F. H. McClintock
Wednesday 01 June 1994
F. H. McCLINTOCK was one of the first British scholars to spend his whole career in the study of criminology, and he made a significant contribution to the development of the subject in Britain.
Beginning life in disadvantage as an orphan, 'Derick' McClintock was fortunate to be fostered by a loving Unitarian couple in South London. He was educated at Colfe's Grammar School and the London School of Economics, where he read economics and sociology. Immediately after graduation, he was recommended by Morris Ginsberg, the sociologist and philosopher, to Dr (later Sir) Leon Radzinowicz, then seeking a research officer for the fledgling and tiny Department of Criminal Science at Cambridge. McClintock remained at Cambridge for 25 years, first in the department and later (from 1960) as one of the founding staff members of the new and much larger Institute of Criminology, the first major interdisciplinary department of criminology to be established in a British university.
During this quarter-century McClintock led many important projects of empirical research, despite (by modern standards) primitive data-processing facilities. This research was in two main areas: first, the analysis of crime patterns (including studies of sexual offences, violent crimes, robbery, and an overview of all crime in England and Wales); and secondly, the evaluation of treatment programmes for offenders (including studies of probation, attendance centres and borstal training). The contribution of these meticulous and dispassionately conducted studies to the early development of criminology in Britain was immense.
His Cambridge contribution was not limited to research. The advent of the institute meant a new role for McClintock as a teacher, a task in which he excelled because of his clarity of mind and his empathy with his students; and he was twice an able Acting Director of the Institute (1962-63 and 1972-73). To his great pleasure, he was also elected a founding Fellow of Churchill College in 1962.
In 1974 McClintock moved to the newly created Chair of Criminology at Edinburgh University. By that time, as he noted in a 1975 paper, there had been 'a change in the main criminological focus' with a growing interest in 'the processes of criminal justice within the socio-legal system'. Given his skills in empirical research and his always wide-
ranging theoretical interest, he was very well placed to give a lead to Edinburgh in this new context. His solution was to persuade the university in 1983 to juxtapose criminology and jurisprudence in a unique (and highly creative) Centre for Criminology and the Social and Philosophical Study of Law, of which he was twice the Director (1983-86, 1989-92). He was also elected Dean of the Faculty of Law (1982-85), and won widespread respect in both roles.
During his time at Edinburgh McClintock was the author of a number of papers setting out his now wider vision of criminology, but sadly the hoped-for magnum opus in this genre never quite materialised. Farsightedly, however, he recognised the growing importance of international (and especially European) intellectual links, to a much greater extent than did most British criminologists at the time; and he played a special role in representing Britain within the International Society of Criminology. He received two well-merited international honours: an honorary LLD from Uppsala University in Sweden in 1974, and the Sellin-Glueck Award in 1982 from the American Society of Criminology.
A catalogue of achievements risks obscuring the man beneath. Many, including myself, have benefited from his wise and caring career advice; his genuine interest in the development of younger scholars was very evident. Other personal memories that his death have brought to mind include watching him interview Borstal boys with a very real empathy, based on his own disadvantaged background; and joining him and his wife, Franca, on summer outings with their large and boisterous family. Derick McClintock was, emphatically, not one of those social scientists who have forgotten how to be human.
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