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New study to consider the meaning of criminal justice

Alan NorrieA researcher at the University of Warwick has been awarded almost £155,000 by The Leverhulme Trust for a three year study into criminal justice theory.

Professor Alan Norrie, from Warwick Law School, will primarily examine how and why different types of justice are labelled and how these labels compare with each other.

“When we talk of criminal justice we often use descriptions,” he said, “such as ‘preventive justice’, ‘restorative justice’, ‘transitional justice’, ‘informal justice’, ‘popular justice’, ‘social justice’, ‘victors’ justice’.

“But I want to understand exactly what these distinctions mean – how do they add to criminal justice theory and how do they contrast? I will think through these questions with the aim of broadening the discussion in this area of research.

“One part of the project is considering the concept of transitional justice, which is when legal systems are set up after a society has gone through a regime change. It is a particularly complex topic. There are questions over what people are exactly looking for from this type of process – for example, it could be punishment, retribution or simply the truth – and it isn’t always clear.

“Another avenue of the research will consider the relationship between preventive justice and criminal justice. What I mean by this is the way in which the state uses various methods to secure a person’s behaviour, the most obvious and well-known example being the anti-social behaviour order or ‘ASBO’. But because this type of approach is so specific to the individual who is the subject of such control, it poses difficult questions for criminal law, which tries to be general and to respect people’s freedom.”

Prof Norrie added: “It’s really these ideas of blame and responsibility that are at the heart of the research – looking into criminal justice practises and particularly how they relate to underlying ethical issues and historical contexts.”

Work on the project will begin in September 2015 and will last for three years.

Note to Editors:

Issued by Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:





Professor Alan Norrie

Tel: +44 (0)2476 151 107


Lee Page, Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255

Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221