Masters of the Bench
Professor Nicky Padfield QC
Full Title: Professor Nicky Padfield QCCategory: Ordinary Bencher
Bench Call Date: 3.2.2009
Call Date: 27.7.1978
Nicola (known as Nicky) Padfield is Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice at the University of Cambridge. She was born Nicola Helme and took a Law degree at St Anne’s College, Oxford (1973-76), following which she spent a year at Darwin College, Cambridge studying for the Diploma in Criminology.
She was Called to the Bar in 1978. After half a pupillage with Stephen O’Malley at 2 Temple Gardens, she accepted a French Government Scholarship to study French Law for a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Universitaires at the University of Aix-Marseille.
She practised briefly as a barrister in the Gambia, then spent the best part of eight years travelling with her husband Christopher, a civil engineer, mainly in Zaire, Senegal and Nepal. They returned to Cambridge in 1988.
As well as Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice, she is also Director of the Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice and Master of Fitzwilliam College – the first woman to hold this post. She has a broad research lens, engaged both in ‘hard’ law and in socio- legal-criminological research.
She is a leading European expert on sentencing law, including the law and practice of release from (and recall to) prison. Nicky has published widely on criminal law, sentencing and criminal justice. Her books include The Criminal Justice Process: Text and Materials (5th edition, 2016); Criminal Law (10th edition, 2016); and Beyond the Tariff: Human Rights and the Release of Life Sentence Prisoners (2002). She has edited several collections of essays, and for nearly 20 years was the editor of Archbold Review. She now writes monthly editorials for the Criminal Law Review.
She sat as a Recorder in the Crown Court from 2002-14, a rare appointment for an academic. She is a strong supporter of the Cambridge Middle Temple Society and was involved with the BSB’s Review of the BVC, chaired by Master Derek Wood in 2010. She was elected a Bencher in 2009.
She was made a QC (honoris causa) in 2018. Nicky has three children and seven grandchildren.