Past Strategic Initiatives

We have funded three major strategic initiatives since 2001: Rethinking Crime and Punishment; The Cambridge Primary Review; and the UK Drug Policy Commission.

Rethinking Crime and Punishment

Rethinking Crime and Punishment was a seven-year, £3.5 million initiative of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation which launched in 2001.

It aimed to raise the level of public debate about the use of prison and alternative forms of punishment in the UK.  The key findings and recommendations emerging from RCP are set out in The Report, and are summarised in the Executive Summary.  The second phase of the programme (2005 - 2008) supported practical projects to increase public and judicial engagement with community-based sentences and to promote understanding and confidence in the use of community sentences as an alternative to prison.


The Cambridge Primary Review

The Cambridge Primary Review was a wide-ranging and independent enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England, supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and based at Cambridge University Faculty of Education.

The Cambridge Primary Review (CPR) was launched in October 2006 as an independent enquiry into the condition and future of primary education in England. The Review was supported from 2006 to 2012 by grants from Esmée. The scope of the Review and the depth of its evidence made it the most comprehensive such enquiry since the Plowden Report of 1967. Between October 2007 and February 2009 the Review published 31 interim reports, with its final report Children, their World, their Education: final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review published in October 2009 by Routledge.  A two year-phase of national and international dissemination followed, also supported by the Foundation.

In 2012 the Cambridge Primary Review Trust was established as a not-for-profit company with the aim of building on the Review’s work and advancing the cause of the highest possible quality of primary education for all the nation’s children.


UK Drug Policy Commission


The UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) was an independent body that provided objective analysis of the evidence concerning drug policy and practice. It ran from 2007 – 2012 and was supported by the Foundation with a total of £2,083,500 in grants.

During the six years UKDPC reviewed recovery and treatment; employment and welfare; enforcement crime and justice; legal controls; impacts of drugs; prevention and public health; stigma and media and strategies, policy and systems.

According to the Commission, government policy on illicit drugs costs at least £3bn a year but a lack of evidence for what works and provides value for money, together with politicians' unwillingness to act on the evidence that is available, means that much of this money may be wasted on policies that are not cost-effective. In response, UKDPC proposes a new approach to drug policy, based on evidence.

The UK Drug Policy Commission published its final report [link] in 2012.  The report makes a series of recommendations on:

• Supporting individuals to behave responsibly
• Stimulating and promoting recovery from drug dependence
• The laws on drug production, supply and possession; and
• Improving structures and processes for how we make and implement drug policy.

All of UKDPC's publications and further information about its work can be found at