Nazir Afzal has been appointed as the University’s new chancellor. His very successful life and career is characterised by his devotion to causes such as gender-based violence and child protection. Here are just some of his major achievements and career landmarks.
Afzal was born in Birmingham as a second-generation immigrant from Pakistan. Growing up he suffered racial abuse which inspired him to use his voice and power as a male in society to make an impact in helping women during his career. He told the New York Times in 2013, “I thought this [racial abuse] was how it was, and I put up with it […] and I think a lot of women feel the same about the abuse they suffer.”
Within his 24 year career there have been numerous achievements, including becoming Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England in 2011. This was when he moved to Manchester and oversaw more than 100,000 prosecutions a year, and managed 800 lawyers and paralegals.
He also made history by being the first Muslim chief prosecutor ever appointed. During this role, he prosecuted some of the highest-profile cases in the UK, notably the Rochdale grooming gang and the former BBC presenter, Stuart Hall, for sexually abusing minors. He was very devoted to prosecuting cases involving violence against women.
He told the New York Times in 2013 “I come from these communities [Muslim conservative communities], I understand their patriarchal nature. I can challenge them.” He stated that he uses his privilege as a man in society to generate change. “And because I am a man, the men in the community are more likely to listen to me.”
In 2016, after leaving the CPS, he became Chief Executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. He resigned following the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 so that he could express his views openly on Question Time.
In 2017 he joined the Complaints Committee of the Independent Press Standards Organisation as its first member from an ethnic minority. In 2018 he was appointed as an advisor to the Welsh government on issues around violence against women. Since then he has taken up numerous posts in education, including being a guest lecturer in Manchester and continuing his charitable work and efforts to support the advancement of women in society.
Afzal helped set up a national hotline for women at risk of forced marriage, which gained so much attention that the US government contacted him to help set up a similar model in the US. He is also an independent member of Oxfam’s Safeguarding and Ethics Committee. He has also been listed in the Pakistan Power100 which ranks him among the 100 most influential people of Pakistani origin in the world today. His honourable work with the CPS and in local communities resulted in him being awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2005.
If you would like to learn more about Afzal, he recently published his autobiography in 2020, The Prosecutor.