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Professor Simon Hackett

Professor (Director of Research)

Professor (Director of Research) in the Department of Sociology+44 (0) 191 33 41472
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing+44 (0) 191 33 41472


How to contact me

The best way to contact me is by email at:

Current post

I am a Professor in the Department of Sociology working primarily on issues associated with child and family wellbeing, child maltreatment and sexual harm.

I teach primarily on the MSW and criminology programmes. I also have a group of research students under my supervision on areas of my research (see below). I chair Durham University's Safeguarding Operations Group.

Outside the University, I am involved in a wide range of activities relating to my areas of specialism. I am a member of the Executive Board of ATSA ( and the Board of Directors of NOTA (, two of the largest professional associations globally concerned with protecting children through improving responses to people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviours.

I am Expert Adviser for the NICE Centre for Guidelines. I was member of the ESRC's Grant Assessment Panel 'B' and was previously research advisor to CAFCASS, the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and Special Advisor to the Department of Health/ NIMHE Violence and Victims of Violence and Abuse Prevention Programme. Between 2014 and 2018 I was Non-Executive Director of Doncaster Children’s Trust.

I am an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Previous posts

Between January 2018 and December 2021, I was Deputy Provost and then Acting Provost at the University. In these roles, I supported the delivery of the University’s Academic Strategy with responsibilities for recruitment, progression and promotion of academic staff, Departmental and Faculty planning, and equality, diversity and inclusion across the University. I was a member of the Provost Board and, as Acting Provost, I sat on the University's Executive Committee.

Between 2011 and 2018 I was Principal of St Mary's College, one of Durham University's oldest colleges (see Whilst in the role of Principal, between 2013-2016, I was Deputy Head (Research) of the Durham Colleges.

In 2011, I was Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health at Durham. In my Faculty role, I had responsibilities for REF and the management of research across the Faculty. I chaired the Faculty Research and Ethics Committees.

Between 2008-2011, I was Head of Durham's School of Applied Social Sciences with overall responsibility for the running of the School, its degree programmes, research, budget and academic community.

I rejoined the University in September 2006 having been Professor of Child Welfare at the University of Bedfordshire and, before that, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at Durham. I was previously Tutor at the University of Manchester.

Prior to working in a university setting, I was a practitioner in the child protection field. I was Programme Director and co-founder of G-MAP, one of the UK’s leading organisations working with children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours. I was a Child Protection Officer with the NSPCC in Manchester for seven years and I was part of a team set up to investigate allegations of institutional abuse arising from the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry. I also worked for several local authorities in both youth justice and child protection teams.

My research

My research relates largely to child maltreatment in its various forms and to professional responses designed to safeguard children’s welfare.

I am a member of the Advisory Board of the National Centre of Expertise in Child Sexual Abuse, funded by the Home Office and led by Barnardo's. Recent funded research projects include an evaluation of the Durham Child Advocacy Centre approach to child sexual abuse, funded by Durham Constabulary and the Home Office.

With Professor John Carpenter of the University of Bristol, I completed the largest RCT undertaken to date internationally on interventions for children who have been sexually abused, as part of a research programme funded by NSPCC. 

In 2018 and 2019 I was commissioned to undertake two expert reviews for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (

In 2016, I was funded by NICE to undertake an evidence review, in conjunction with colleagues at Sheffield, on harmful sexual behaviours and I was expert member of the NICE Public Health Advisory Committee which produced national guidance on this topic, see:

I am first author of the NSPCC national operational framework on harmful sexual behaviours which is available at:

With Marcella Leonard, I am co-author of the (2019) AIM3 Assessment Framework for young people who present with harmful sexual behaviours.

My educational background

I have studied at the Universities of Hull, Manchester and Durham. My first degree at the University of Hull was in modern languages (French and German). I hold a MA (Econ) in Social Policy and Social Work from the University of Manchester, as well as a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW). I hold the Durham Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (DCTHE). My PhD in Social Sciences was completed at the University of Hull on the subject of child sexual abuse.

Collaborations and PhD student enquiries

I collaborate with other researchers from across the world who share my interests. If you are interested in undertaking a PhD under my supervision, I would be delighted to hear from you directly about your ideas and to discuss opportunities to work with you at Durham. I have extensive supervisory experiences and a record of over 20 PhD completions. I hold the Durham University Excellence in Doctoral Supervision Award. 

A list of my current and recently completed PhD supervisees is included below (see section entitled 'supervises'). Their projects are diverse and range from work on child abuse, sexual abuse and sexual offending, children and sexuality, gender, and safeguarding in the UK and internationally.

Research students who have recently successfully completed their PhDs under my supervision include: Dr Hakim Taha on physical punishment in Kurdistan; Dr Andrea Darling on women who sexually abuse in professional contexts; Dr Josie Phillips on therapeutic relationships; Dr Evgenia Stepanova on children in institutional care in Russia; Dr Sarah Greenhow on adoption; Dr Eric Baumgartner on masculinity and the youth justice system; Dr Lesley Deacon on harmful sexual behaviours in childhood; Dr Beth Casey on child neglect; Dr Chris Jones on adoptive family life; Dr Nashmi Al-Anazi on the physical punishment of children in Saudi Arabia; Dr Lukman Mohamad on child prostitution in Malaysia; Dr Abi Taylor on professional decision making; and, Dr Helen McIlveen on models of sexual health service provision. It is a privilege to have worked with such talented individuals who have made an enormous contribution to their fields.

Research interests

  • Adoption and out-of-home care
  • Child maltreatment and safeguarding children
  • Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours
  • Sexual abuse and sexual offending
  • Child development
  • International comparative social welfare
  • Risk and resilience
  • Assessment
  • Therapeutic interventions with children
  • User participation in social welfare
  • Parenting


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Supervision students