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Welcome to HERC

The Harm & Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC) is based in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University. It was formed in 2015 out of what was known as the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR), which itself had been established in December 2003. In 2010, ICCCR was formally partnered with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies; in 2015, this partnership was formally extended.

HERC is a unique multidisciplinary and cross faculty initiative drawing on expertise from Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (social policy & criminology, psychology, history and sociology) and Health and Social Care (youth justice); and from the affiliated International Centre for the History of crime, policing and justice; and the affiliated Higher and Distance Education in Prison research interest group, based in the Institute of Educational Technology.

HERC unites contemporary practice-based research and critical policy analysis in crime, harm, policing, criminal justice and criminalisation, with an awareness of historical, psychological and social contexts.

Our core focus can be summarised by the theme, “Harmful Evidence and Evidencing Harm”.

HERC is organised around three substantive (but inter-related) research questions:

  • Does Harm Matter more than 'Crime'?
  • The Uses and Abuses of Evidence in Criminal Justice?
  • From Criminalisation to De-Criminalisation?

We approach these questions:

  • through a shared commitment to comparative and innovative methodologies
  • via a general  commitment to public and stakeholder engagement

On these web pages you will find details about HERC, about the interests and publications of its members and about upcoming (as well as past) conferences and seminars. You will also find material on HERC’s predecessor, ICCCR. Should you require more information, however, please do contact us.

Get in touch

If you would like to discuss your research or potential projects with someone from the Centre, please feel free to approach the Director, Professor Steve Tombs, Tel: +44 (0)1908 651550, e-mail: