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The idea of establishing an Observatory on Academic Criminology Programs began to concretize in early 2009.

In April 2009 a first meeting of what would then become the Expert Group of the Observatory took place. It was decided that the Observatory would operate under the auspices of the International Society for Criminology (ISC) and that the Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC - K.U.Leuven) would finance the launch of the Observatory from September 2009 to August 2011 by providing staff and functioning as a secretariat.

Since September 2009 the Observatory secretariat at LINC contacted several institutions and societies asking them to join the Observatory Advisory Committee. The European Society of Criminology, the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation and the American Society of Criminology agreed to do so.

In November 2009 the expert group finalised the memorandum of the Observatory.

In January 2010, the Observatory website became fully operative.

In the fall of 2010 the Observatory-project was presented in a panel-session at the 10th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology.

On September 1, 2011, the School of Criminology of the University of Liege takes over the function of Observatory secretariat.