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Aims and Objectives

The mission of HERC is to conduct original, rigorous and high quality research aimed at investigating, fostering and supporting change in the criminal justice system, emphasising alternatives to this system and thus its ‘shrinking’.

Our multidisciplinary approach is utilised to present a critical challenge to the practices and institutions of criminal justice. In general, we seek to explore the ways in which and to what extent to which the criminalisation of social policy might be reversed. In this approach, we seek to engage with the widest possible range of stakeholders.

In turn, the Open University's mission of widening participation and social justice is reflected strongly in HERC’s mission, both within our aim to document and challenge injustice and in our commitment to engage with non-academic communities.

HERC aims to:

  • produce rigorous, critical, inter-disciplinary-based research on and around evidence, harm and crime, processes of non/criminalisation and alternatives to criminal justice;
  • offer a critical, user engaged, voice that challenges standard understandings of justice and contemporary policies of evidence based practice;
  • contribute to exploring alternatives to criminal justice, not least through  public and social policy;
  • establish a profile, and raise that of its members, locally, nationally and internationally, through high quality research activities and outputs;
  • serve as a vehicle to consolidate and develop the research expertise of members;
  • act as vehicle for supporting and developing early career researchers;
  • prioritise public engagement and knowledge transfer, not least drawing upon the educational resources and contacts afforded by the OU;
  • play a key role in promoting and optimising the impacts of research undertaken by members and the Centre as a whole;
  • make its resources and skills available on local, regional, national and international levels for policymakers, practitioners, user communities and other ‘stakeholders’ in criminal justice, social policy and related fields;
  • sustain its growth by generating increased funding from a variety of external sources;
  • provide a vehicle for adding value to submission(s) to any future REF.

HERC intends to meet each of these aims through cementing and strengthening its relationship with the CCJS, the members of which have been consulted in, and provided input into, the development of this strategy document.

The research activities of HERC are aimed at academic, policy and practitioner audiences. Valuable links have been established with 'external' institutions at home and abroad. HERC is formally partnered with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS).