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Professor Steve Tombs

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Head of Social Policy & Criminology
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Social Policy and Criminology
  • steve.tombs

Professional biography

Before joining The Open University in January 2013 I worked at Liverpool John Moores University where, since 1998, I was Professor of Sociology. There, over 21 years, I taught across Schools of Business, Law and, latterly, Social Science and Humanities.

I have long-standing interests in the incidence, nature and regulation of corporate crime and harm, and in particular the regulation and ‘management’ of health and safety at work, and have published widely on these matters.

I was a founding Member and Chair (1999-2009) of the Centre for Corporate Accountability. The CCA was an independent, not-for-profit advice, research and advocacy organisation. I have continued to work with the wider Hazards Movement, the Institute of Employment Rights and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. I am a Board member and Trustee of INQUEST.

I am currently a member of the Editorial Boards of Policy and Practice in Health and Safety and State Crime.

Research interests

My current research interests span a number of related areas.

I recently completed a Leverhulme Fellowship (RF-2011-173), examining the regulation of business by the five Local Authorities of Merseyside, with a particular focus on the enforcement of environmental, food, and occupational health and safety as well as consumer protection law; the research has quantitative and qualitative dimensions and spans the period 2004-2013, and is seeking, among other things, to capture the nature and effects of both the political shift towards 'better regulation' and the fallout from the financial 'crisis' on the work of regulators and their efforts to mitigate corporate harm.

This in turn relates to a wider research project, focusing upon both the idea as well as the practices of regulation 'after the crisis', this entailing critical examinations of the relationships between local and national states on the one hand and the production of corporate harm on the other, as well as a critical engagement with academic attempts to understand these relationships. This is the subject of a book, Tombs, S. (2016) Social Protection After the Crisis: regulation without enforcement, Bristol: Policy Press, Viii+268 pages. Some of the core themes of the book are also explored in a short Briefing, ‘Better Regulation’: better for whom?

This work has also generated conceptual considerations regarding the utility and validity of the relatively recent concept of 'state-corporate crime'. In this context, I am also currently editing two Journal Special Issues on the topics of state crime (with David Whyte) and state/corporate crime (for the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice and State Crime, respectively).

Further, I continue to work, in particular with Paddy Hillyard, on the impacts and potential of a social harm perspective, as part of an ongoing, critical engagement with the limitations of the dominant concerns of more mainstream criminology; and part of this is an emergent critique of the (lack of impact) of recent and current crises upon criminology and socio-legal studies.

Finally, I have long worked, and continue to work, with David Whyte on various (academic, policy-oriented and campaigning) critical engagements with national health and safety and environmental regulation, in terms of both policy and practice.

PhD supervision

I am currently supervising three PhD students in the areas of corporate killing, tax regulation and the policing of serious organised crime.

I have also examined numerous PhDs, including those awarded at the Universities of Lancaster, Macquarie (Sydney), Middlesex, New South Wales, Northumbria, Paisley, Queens (Kingston, Ontario), Southampton, Sydney, the University of Wales and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

I’d welcome applications for PhD study in any area connected to my research interests.

Completed supervisions

Vicky Canning (PhD) Transcending Conflict: Exploring Sexual Violence Support for Women Seeking Asylum in Merseyside, (thesis awarded 2012).
David Lowe (PhD) The Globalisation of Crime and Transnational Policing Responses within the EU, 2011.
Andrew Upton (PhD) Behaving like Animals? Alternative media and the communication strategies of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) & SPEAK direct action campaigns, 2010.
Lynne Sudbury (PhD) Corporate Segmentation of the Mature Market, 2006.
David. Smith (PhD) Crisis Preparedness Within the Police Service, 2002.
Ramadan Aburawi (MPhil) Assessing Human Resource Management in Peoples’ Republic of Libya, 2001.
David Whyte (PhD) Power, Ideology and the Management of Safety in the UK Offshore Oil Industry, 1999.
Elisabeth Wilson (PhD) Gender, Management and Organisational Culture, 1998.

Books and pamphlets

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2016) La Empresa Criminal. Por qué las corporaciones deben ser abolidas, Icaria Editorial. (Spanish translation of Tombs and Whyte, 2015, The Corporate Criminal, below).

Tombs, S. (2016) Social Protection After the Crisis: regulation without enforcement, Bristol: Policy Press, Viii+268 pages.

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2015) The Corporation as Criminal. Why corporations must be abolished, London: Routledge, 978-0-415-55637, viii+208 pages.

Pearce, F. and Tombs, S. (2012) Bhopal. Flowers at the altar of profit and power, North Somercotes: CrimeTalk Books, 978-0-9570241-6-8.

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2010) Regulatory Surrender: death, injury and the non-enforcement of law, London: Institute of Employment Rights, 978 1 906703 10 3, iv+101 pages.

Coleman, R., Sim, J., Tombs, S. and Whyte, D., eds. (2009) State, Power, Crime, London: Sage, 9781412948050, xviii+278 pages.

Dorling, D., Gordon, D., Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Pemberton, S. and Tombs, S. (2008) Criminal Obsessions. Why harm matters more than crime. Second Edition, London: Crime and Society Foundation, 978-1-906003-14-2, 97 pages.

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2007) Safety Crimes, Cullompton: Willan, 978-1-84392-085-4, xviii + 253 pages.

Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Tombs, S., Gordon, D. and Dorling, D. (2005) Criminal Obsessions. Why harm matters more than crime, London: Crime and Society Foundation, 0-9548903-1-0, 72 pages.

Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Tombs, S. and Gordon, D., eds. (2004) Beyond Criminology? Taking Harm Seriously, London: Pluto Press, 0745319033, x + 319 pages.

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D., eds. (2003) Unmasking the Crimes of the Powerful: scrutinising states and corporations, New York/London: Peter Lang, 0-8204-56918, xvi + 318 pages.

Coles, E., Smith, D. and Tombs, S., eds. (2000) Risk, Management and Society, Kluwer-Nijhoff, 0-7923-6899-1, xv + 300 pages.

Slapper, G. and Tombs, S. (1999) Corporate Crime, London: Addison Wesley Longman, 0-582-29980-2, xi + 279 pages.

Member of Health and Safety project team which prepared Regulating Health and Safety at Work: the way forward, 1999, London: Institute of Employment Rights, 1 873271 72 7, xx + 152 pages.

Pearce, F. and Tombs, S. (1998)Toxic Capitalism: corporate crime and the chemical industry, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1 85521 950 6, xii + 372 pages.

Gallagher, K., Rose, E., Reynolds, J., McClelland, R. and Tombs, S. (1996) People in Organisations. An Active Learning Approach, Oxford: Blackwell, 0-631-20181-5, xxiv + 659 pages.

Articles in refereed journals, since 2008

Tombs, S. (2016) Making Better Regulation, making regulation better?, Policy Studies, DOI 10.1080/01442872.2016.1157854

Tombs, S. (2015) “Crisis, What Crisis? Regulation and the academic orthodoxy”, Special Issue of The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54, (1), February, 57-72.

Tombs, S. and Whyte.  D. (2015) Introduction. Crimes of the Powerful, Special Issue of The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54, (1), February, 1-7.

Tombs, S. and Whyte., D. (2015) Counterblast: Crime, Harm and the State-Corporate Nexus, Special Issue of The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54, (1), February, 91-95.

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2014) “Toxic Capital Everywhere: mapping the co-ordinates of regulatory tolerance”, Special Issue of Social Justice. Bhopal and after: The chemical industry as Toxic Capitalism, 41(1/2), December, 28-48.

Tombs, S. (2013) “Still Killing with Impunity: the reform of corporate criminal liability in the UK”, Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 11, (2), 63-81.

Tombs, S. (2013) “Working for the ‘Free’ Market: state complicity in routine corporate harm in the UK, Special Issue of Revista Crítica Penal y Poder [Critical Review of Criminal Critique and Power]. Redefining the Criminal Matter: State Crimes, Mass Atrocities and Social Harm, 5, September, 291-313.

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2013) “The Myths and Realities of Deterrence in Workplace Safety Regulation”, British Journal of Criminology, 53(5), 746-763.

Tombs, S. and Hillyard, P. (2013) “¿Más allá de la criminología?” [“Beyond Criminology?”], Revista Crítica Penal y Poder [Critical Review of Criminal Critique and Power], 4, March, 175-196.

James, P., Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2013) “"An Independent Review of British Health and Safety Regulation? From common-sense to non-sense", Policy Studies 34, (1), 36-52.

Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2013) “Transcending the Deregulation Debate? Regulation, risk and the enforcement of health and safety law in the UK”, Regulation & Governance, 7(1), March, 61-79.

Tombs, S. (2012) "State-Corporate Symbiosis in the Production of Crime and Harm", State Crime, 1(2), October, 170-195.

Pemberton, S., Tombs, S., Chan, M. and Seal, L. (2012) "Whistleblowing, Organisational Harm and the Self-Regulating Organisation", Policy & Politics, 40, (2) April, 263-279.

Snell, K. and Tombs, S. (2011) "'How Do You Get Your Voice Heard When No-One Will Let You?' Victimisation at work", Criminology & Criminal Justice, 11, (3), 207–223.

Tombs, S. andWhyte, D. (2010) "A Deadly Consensus: worker safety and regulatory degradation under New Labour", British Journal of Criminology, 50, (1), 46-65.

Tombs, S. (2009) "Le violenze e i danni causati dalle imprese" (Corporate Violence and Harm), Antigone, IV, 2-3, 33-61.

 

Teaching interests

I am currently part of the production team working on Social Policy: Poverty, Wealth, Social Inequalities (DD312) (provisional title).

My teaching at LJMU spanned Corporate Crime, Crime and Political Economy, Critical Criminology, Criminological Theory, Epistemology and the Politics of Criminological Knowledge, and State Crime.

Publications

Making better regulation, making regulation better? (2016)
Tombs, Steve
Policy Studies, 37(4) (pp. 332-349)
Crisis, what crisis? Regulation and the academic orthodoxy (2015-02)
Tombs, Steve
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54(1) (pp. 57-72)
Introduction to the special issue on 'Crimes of the Powerful' (2015-02)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54(1) (pp. 1-7)
Counterblast: crime, harm and the state-corporate nexus (2015-02)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54(1) (pp. 91-95)
Toxic capital everywhere: mapping the co-ordinates of regulatory tolerance (2014-12)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Social Justice, 41(1/2) (pp. 28-48)
Still killing with impunity: corporate criminal law reform in the UK (2013-12)
Tombs, Steve
Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 11(2) (pp. 63-80)
Corporate theft and fraud: business as usual (2013-12)
Tombs, Steve
Criminal Justice Matters(94) (pp. 14-15)
An independent review of British health and safety regulation? From common sense to non-sense (2013-11-12)
James, Phil; Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Policy Studies, 34(1) (pp. 36-52)
The myths and realities of deterrence in workplace safety regulation (2013-09)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
British Journal of Criminology, 53(5) (pp. 746-763)
Working for the ‘Free’ Market: state complicity in routine corporate harm in the United Kingdom (2013-09)
Tombs, Steve
Revista Crítica Penal y Poder(5) (pp. 291-313)
Transcending the deregulation debate? regulation, risk, and the enforcement of health and safety law in the UK (2013-03-29)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Regulation & Governance, 7(1) (pp. 61-79)
Whistleblowing, organisational harm and the self-regulating organisation (2012)
Pembertion, Simon; Tombs, Steve; Chan, Ming Ming Joiy and Seal, Lizzie
Policy and Politics, 40(2) (pp. 263-279)
Symbiosis in the production of crime and harm (2012)
Tombs, Steve
State Crime, 1, Article 1(2) (pp. 170-195)
‘How do you get your voice heard when no-one will let you?’ Victimisation at work (2011-07)
Snell, Katy and Tombs, Steve
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 11, Article 1(3) (pp. 207-223)
Corporate or Criminal? The dangers of reducing corporate prosecutions (2011-03-10)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
New Law Journal, 161, Article 161 NLJ 81(7449) (pp. 81-84)
Section 30 dispersal powers: emerging findings from Merseyside (2010-02)
Evans, Rachel; Jamieson, Janet; O'Brien, Dave; Tombs, Steve and Yates, Joe
Early Career Academics Network Bulletin(2) (pp. 4-8)
Reflections upon the limits of a concept: ‘victims’ and corporate crime (2010-01-21)
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D.
Journal International de Victimologie, Numéro spécial sur les victimes de crimes en col blanc (crimes économiques) , 23(2)
A deadly consensus: worker safety and regulatory degradation under New Labour (2010-01)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
British Journal of Criminology, 50, Article 3(1) (pp. 46-65)
Brown-nosing the rich (2010)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Criminal Justice Matters, 79(1) (pp. 32-33)
A political economy of corporate killing (2007)
Tombs, Steve
Criminal Justice Matters, 70(1) (pp. 29-30)
Social Protection After the Crisis: regulation without enforcement (2015-11-16)
Tombs, Steve
ISBN : 9781447313755 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : Bristol
The Corporate Criminal. Why Corporations Must Be Abolished (2015-04-02)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Key Ideas in Criminology
ISBN : 978-0-415-55637-8 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Bhopal: Flowers at the Altar of Profit and Power (2012)
Pearce, Frank and Tombs, Steve
ISBN : 978-0-957024168 | Publisher : CrimeTalk Books | Published : North Somercotes
Regulatory Surrender: Death, Injury and the Non-Enforcement of Law (2010)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
ISBN : 9781906703103 | Publisher : Institute of Employment Rights | Published : London
Criminal Obsessions: Why Harm Matters More Than Crime (2nd ed.) (2008)
Dorling, Danny; Gordon, Dave; Hillyard, Paddy; Pantazis, Christina; Pemberton, Simon and Tombs, Steve
Harm and Society
ISBN : 978-1-906003-14-2 | Publisher : Centre for Crime and Justice Studies | Published : London
Health and safety ‘crimes’ in Britain: the great disappearing act (2014)
Tombs, Steve
In: Davies, Pamela; Francis, Peter and Wyatt, Tanya eds. Invisible Crimes and Social Harms (pp. 198-220)
ISBN : 978-1-137-34781-7 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : London
Corporate crime (2013-06-13)
Tombs, Steve
In: Hale, Chris; Hayward, Keith; Wahidin, Azrini and Wincup, Emma eds. Criminology (3rd ed.) (pp. 227-246)
ISBN : 978–0–19–969129–6 | Publisher : Oxford University Press. | Published : Oxford
Reappraising regulation: the politics of “regulatory retreat” in the United Kingdom (2013)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
In: Will, Susan; Handelman , Stephen and Brotherton, David C. eds. How They Got Away with It: White Collar Criminals and the Financial Meltdown (pp. 205-222)
ISBN : 978-0-231-15690-5 | Publisher : Columbia University Press | Published : New York and Chichester
After the crisis: new directions in theorising corporate and white-collar crime (2012)
Burdis, Kate and Tombs, Steve
In: Hall, Steve and Winlow, Simon eds. New Directions in Criminological Theory (pp. 276-291)
ISBN : 978-1-84392-913-0 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon and New York
Reshaping health and safety enforcement: institutionalising impunity (2012)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
In: Dickens, Linda ed. Making Employment Rights Effective: Issues of Enforcement and Compliance (pp. 67-86)
ISBN : 9781849462563 | Publisher : Hart | Published : Oxford
From 'crime' to social harm? (2011-10)
Hillyard, Paddy and Tombs, Steve
In: Lynch, Michael J. and Stretesky, Paul B. eds. Radical and Marxist Theories of Crime. The Library of Essays in Theoretical Criminology (pp. 13-29)
ISBN : 978-1-4094-2309-6 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Aldershot
State complicity in the production of corporate crime (2011-06-08)
Tombs, Steve
In: Gobert, James and Pascal, Ana-Maria eds. European Developments in Corporate Criminal Liability. Routledge Advances in Criminology (pp. 70-83)
ISBN : 978-0-415-62066-6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Corporate violence and harm (2010)
Tombs, Steve
In: Brookman, Fiona; Maguire, Mike; Pierpoint, Harriet and Bennett, Trevor eds. Handbook on Crime (pp. 884-903)
ISBN : 978-1-84392-372-5 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton
Corporate crime (2009)
Tombs, Steve
In: Hale, Chris; Hayward, Keith; Wahidin, Azrini and Wincup, Emma eds. Criminology (2nd ed.) (pp. 301-322)
ISBN : 978-0-19-922729-7 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Introduction: state, power, crime (2009)
Coleman, Roy; Sim, Joe; Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
In: Coleman, Roy; Sim, Joe; Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David eds. State, Power, Crime (pp. 1-19)
ISBN : 9781412948043 | Publisher : SAGE Publications Ltd. | Published : London
Official statistics and hidden crimes: researching health and safety crimes (2009)
Tombs, Steve
In: Croall, Hazel ed. Corporate Crime, Vol. 1. Issues of Definition, Construction and Research. SAGE Library of Criminology (pp. 281-296)
ISBN : 9781847874016 | Publisher : SAGE Publications Ltd. | Published : London
Crime, harm and corporate power (2009)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
In: Muncie, John; Talbot, Deborah and Walters, Reece eds. Crime: Local and Global (pp. 137-172)
ISBN : 978-1-84392-515-6 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton
The state and corporate crime (2009)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
In: Coleman, Roy; Sim, Joe; Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David eds. State, Power, Crime (pp. 103-115)
ISBN : 9781412948043 | Publisher : SAGE Publications | Published : London
Hazards, law and class: contextualizing the regulation of corporate crime (2009)
Pearce, Frank and Tombs, Steve
In: Croall, Hazel ed. Corporate Crime, Vol. 3. Controlling Corporate Crime. SAGE Library of Criminology
ISBN : 1847874010 | Publisher : SAGE Publications Ltd | Published : London
Ideology, hegemony and empiricism (2009)
Pearce, Frank and Tombs, Steve
In: Whyte, David ed. Crimes of the Powerful: a Reader. Readings in Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp. 157-159)
ISBN : 9780335221981 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : Maidenhead
US capital versus the Third World: Union Carbide and Bhopal (2009)
Pearce, Frank and Tombs, Steve
In: Croall, Hazel ed. Corporate Crime, Vol. 2. Corporate Crime: Cases and Explanations. SAGE Library of Criminology
ISBN : 9781847874016 | Publisher : SAGE Publications Ltd. | Published : London
Toxic capitalism: corporate crime and the chemical industry (2009)
Pearce, Frank and Tombs, Steve
In: Whyte, David ed. Crimes of the Powerful. A Reader (pp. 93-98)
ISBN : 9780335221981 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : Maidenhead
Corporations and health and safety (2008)
Tombs, Steve
In: Minkes, John and Minkes, Leonard eds. Corporate and White-Collar Crime (pp. 18-38)
ISBN : 9781412934572 | Publisher : SAGE Publications Ltd. | Published : London
Corporate crime and its victims (2008)
Tombs, Steve and Williams, Brian
In: Stout, Brian; Yates, Joe and Williams, Brian eds. Applied Criminology (pp. 170-185)
ISBN : 978-1-4129-4732-9 | Publisher : SAGE Publications Ltd. | Published : London
State talk, state silence: work and ‘violence’ in the UK (2008)
Sim, Joe and Tombs, Steve
In: Panitch, Leo and Leys, Colin eds. Violence Today: Actually Existing Barbarism. Socialist Register 2009 (pp. 88-104)
ISBN : 978-0-85036-607-5 | Publisher : The Merlin Press | Published : London
State, Power, Crime (2009)
Coleman, Roy; Sim, Joe; Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David eds.
ISBN : 9781412948050 | Publisher : SAGE Publications Ltd. | Published : London
Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive. Submission to the Department for Work and Pensions (2013-07)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Institute of Employment Rights, Liverpool.
The Löfstedt Review of Health and Safety: a Critical Evaluation (2012)
James, Phil; Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
IER
Injustice upon Injustice: London 2012 and the Enduring Legacies of Bhopal (2011-12-02)
Pearce, Frank and Tombs, Steve
CrimeTalk
Flowers at the Altar of Profit and Power: the continuing disaster at Bhopal (2011)
Pearce, Frank and Tombs, Steve
CrimeTalk
Health and safety gone mad? (2010-07)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Institute of Employment Rights, Liverpool.
A crisis of enforcement: the decriminalisation of death and injury at work (2008-06)
Tombs, Steve and Whyte, David
Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, King's College London, London.