Who needs evidence? Institute of Criminology merger remains controversial

A Senate committee supports a proposed merger between the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, despite only hearing arguments against it. Academics in the field say it’s more of an acquisition, and will hobble the research body.

A Senate committee has recommended going ahead with merging the Australian Institute of Criminology into the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, despite nearly every submission it received advising against it.

The government-controlled committee, chaired by government Senator Ian MacDonald, received detailed objections on a wide range of grounds from a long list of credible experts from around the world, many of them criminologists to whom the AIC and its academic output are well known.

In contrast, the committee received a glaring lack of independent arguments in favour of the merger, which would rebadge the AIC as the Australian Crime and Justice Research Centre and make it an arm of ACIC, the new name for the Australian Crime Commission since it absorbed CrimTrac last year in a much less controversial change.

The government’s justification is that the merger will lead to better law enforcement outcomes and actually increase the value of the research body’s academic output, without reducing its quality or credibility in the wider world of academia. But, as the report notes:

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