Professor Mike Hough
Professor of Criminal Policy and Associate Director of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) Birkbeck, University of London
I have been a member of the British Society of Criminology since 1985 and served as its president from 2008 to 2011. I have a distant background in government research at the Home Office, and in the mid-1990s established an academic research centre, now called the Institute for Criminal Policy Research. ICPR was based at King’s College London when I became BSC president and is now at Birkbeck, University of London. I took on the presidency as I thought that there might be some scope for narrowing the gap between academic criminology and criminal policy that had been growing for many years. I felt that most academic criminologists understood too little about the role of research within government, and that government researchers and policy officials were becoming over-doctrinaire about the primacy of experimental research. I think that I made some progress in improving links between government and academia, and in convincing officials that there was more to research evidence than randomised controlled trials, and that theoretical sophistication – or perspective – was often what policy lacked, and what good academic research could provide. At the end of my stint, ‘administrative criminologist’ was probably still a term of abuse amongst the majority of my academic colleagues, though I am optimistic that the increasing emphasis by HEFCE and the research councils on the need for academics to demonstrate impact and social utility will eventually rehabilitate policy research in our field.
As the director of a policy research centre that has to earn its living through grant income, my research interests have tended to be promiscuous, ranging from illicit drug use and drug-related crime to sentencing, the rehabilitation of offenders, desistance theory and restorative justice. I am especially proud of the programme of work which ICPR has mounted in collaboration with the Prison Reform Trust, on the growth of imprisonment, on sentencing and sentencing guidelines, on children in custody and on the unfairness of the indeterminate sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection. However, interest in policing has been a constant throughout my career and over the last ten years, my work has increasingly focussed on procedural justice theory. With colleagues at LSE and Oxford, and in a number of mainly European countries, I have developed a variant of procedural justice theory, testing this using the European Social Survey.