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Criminal Justice, Social Harms and Inequalities

Our ideas of criminality and justice permeate, and reflect, the societies we live in, and (re)produce systems and structures that are a cause and consequence of harm and inequalities. Criminal justice systems now operate in contexts of: persistent austerity; increasing social awareness of structural inequalities; and polarised positions that often individualise or contextualise crime and criminality.  


Researchers in the Criminal Justice, Social Harm and Inequalities Research Group shine a light on the lives and communities ruptured by criminal justice systems, and critically examine the structures, cultures and processes that facilitate or mitigate this impact by: 

  • Theorising, examining, and re-imagining various facets of criminal justice systems and structures
  • Using critical, creative, participatory, and co-produced methods, to foreground often suppressed or marginalised voices
  • Questioning how crime is defined, and processes of criminalisation, in exploring the ethics of criminal justice systems
  • Producing practical and collaborative solutions, grounded in research, to improve outcomes for people whose lives, families and communities are impacted by criminal justice systems
  • Studying criminal justice systems within wider eco-systems of service and policy delivery – including social care, health, and education

This body of work is evidencing alternative imaginings of criminality, justice, and what a criminal justice system can and should do; with the aim of reducing social harm and inequalities that have been aggravated and created by experiences of criminalisation.  

Group conveners: 

Dr Donna Marie-Brown, Associate Professor

Group Members (and core interests): 


Michelle Addison

Donna Marie Brown

Samantha Burns

Will Coyles

Carlene Firmin

Alison Jobe Recent research project work: Towards inclusive criminal justice responses to sexual violence (

Nikki Rutter

Hannah King

Chris Lawless

Kate O’Brien

Lauren Wroe


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Postgraduate Research in Sociology: Criminal Justice, Social Harm & Inequalities

Postgraduate researcher Jack Simmonds discusses his research into the lived experience of young LGBTQ+ people in Manchester and their experiences with the police.

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