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Criminal Justice and Human Rights

Criminal Justice and Human Rights Centre

About us

The Criminal Justice and Human Rights Centre is a focal point for criminal justice and criminological research at City, University of London.

Co-directors group photo
Co-directors group photo

Dr Gemma Birkett, Professor Eugene McLaughlin and Dr Cassandra Wiener

Reflecting its interdisciplinary approach, the Criminal Justice and Human Rights Centre includes members from across the University including The City Law School , the School of Policy and Global Affairs, the School of Health & Psychological Sciences and Bayes Business School.


Our aim is to drive a progressive agenda for change that is grounded in multi-disciplinary research but also in the experiences of lawyers, police, prosecutors, judges and all those with lived experience of the criminal justice system. We do this through five key frameworks:

  • Analyse – through rigorous scholarship we measure the scale of the crisis and investigate its most pressing issues
  • Reform – to provide a platform for researchers, practitioners and the sector to use our co-created understanding of the issues to  advance criminal justice reform
  • Activate – to raise awareness of criminal justice issues by centring  and giving a voice to those with lived experience and knowledge of the criminal justice crisis
  • Connect – to combine a practical with a research based approach thus allowing theory to inform policy and practice
  • Communicate – to share research findings, practical perspectives and specialist knowledge whether practical or policy based through  publication, conferences, seminar series and workshops


We bring together key voices (researchers, practitioners, policy makers campaigners, citizens) from the criminal justice sector and from academia nationally and internationally.

Through cutting edge scholarship we advance national and comparative research investigating the most pressing issues in criminal justice. Our ethos is at once practical and research based – we believe that allowing theory to inform policy and practice is a route to meaningful criminal justice reform.

We organise seminars, workshops, public lectures and conferences to share research findings and promote perspectives that are at once practical and specialist.

We welcome collaboration – prospective students, visiting faculty, campaigners and concerned citizens are welcome to join us in transforming criminal justice.

Strategic Focus

Since launching the Criminal Justice and Human Rights Centre, our strategic focus has concentrated on four critical criminal justice areas:

1. Penal policy reform. Focusing on selective decarceration and issues surrounding the over use of incarceration for example via increases in remand and recall to custody and imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentences

2. International criminal justice and human rights. Focusing on the rights of vulnerable communities who fall through the net of international justice.

3. Women’s justice. Focusing on gender and criminal justice – how the criminal law and criminal justice process discriminates against women.

4. Communicating Justice. Focussing on how government, pressure groups and researchers communicate ‘justice’ information publicly, how it is reported and what impact it has on policy making.

Read the full strategic focus of the CJHR Centre

Advisory board

Co-directors and advisory board group photo July 2023

Co-directors and advisory board group photo July 2023

From left to right:

Hami Sabi, Lawyer, Sabi Association; Sir Geoffrey Nice, Barrister and Judge, Geoffrey Nice Foundation; Andrea Simon, Director, End Violence Against Women; Roma Hooper OBE, Chair, Clinks; Natalie Byrom, Director of Research, The Legal Education Foundation; Liz Hogarth OBE, Former Ministry of Justice Lead; Vian Dakhi, MP, Council of Representatives of Iraq; Nick Vetch CBE, Founder, Big Yellow Group; Dr Cassandra Wiener, Co-Director, CJHR; Baroness Helena Kennedy, Lawyer and Peer, House of Lords; Andrea Coomber, Director, Howard League for Penal Reform; Dr Gemma Birkett, Co-Director, CJHR; Professor Julian Roberts, Executive Director, Sentencing Academy; Anand Doobay, Partner and Lawyer; Boutique Law LLP; Richard Garside, Director, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies; Professor Eugene McLaughlin, Co-Director, CJHR, Aldo Zammit Borda, Co-Director, CJHR.

Other Advisory Board members:

Rt Hon Sir David Hanson (former Minister in the Home Office and Ministry of Justice); Lord Fred Ponsonby (Labour frontbench spokesman in the House of Lords); Lord Alan Beith (House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee, former Chair of the House of Commons Justice Select Committee); Lord John Thomas (former Lord Chief Justice); Betsy Stanko

Dr Aldo Zammit Borda (Co-Director)

Dr Aldo Zammit Borda is a Reader in Law at City, University of London. He previously served as Director of the Centre for Access to Justice and Inclusion at Anglia Ruskin University. His research focus lies in the area of International Criminal Justice.

Alexia Zimbler

Alexia Zimbler is a Senior Lecturer in Law and Assistant Dean for Student Recruitment (Postgraduate and Professional Programmes) at City Law School.She practised at the bar for 25 years, specialising in Criminal Law, Advocacy and Vulnerable Witnesses.

She started her practice on the Western Circuit at 2KBW, then to Broad Chare (now Dere Street) Chambers in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, before returning to the South-East where she continued to practice, specialising in criminal defence work at the highest level. She also practiced Family Law specialising in Public Law children cases.

Professor Andrew Choo

Andrew Choo is Professor of Law at The City Law School. His research interests include evidence and procedure, especially criminal evidence. His published work has been cited in decisions of various appellate courts, including the House of Lords, the UK Supreme Court, the Privy Council and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Dr Cassandra Wiener (Co-Director)

Dr Cassandra Wiener is an Academic in Law at The City Law School. She is passionate about domestic abuse law reform and regularly acts as advisor to the Home Office and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner's office, among others. She played a key role in the drafting of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, successfully campaigning for a clause enhancing the criminal law protection of survivors of coercive control.

She is regularly consulted by governments and activists around the world who are considering following the UK's lead and criminalising coercive control, most recently appearing before the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control in New South Wales, Australia.

Professor Emmeline Taylor

Professor Emmeline Taylor is a professor of Criminology and nd Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise) in the School of Policy and Global Affairs. nd Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise) in the School of Policy and Global Affairs. Emmeline has completed empirical research in a number of sociological and criminological areas including; surveillance and the societal impact of new technologies, armed robbery, residential burglary, retail crime, crime and security in education, and several evaluations of criminal justice initiatives in England and Australia.

Professor Eugene McLaughlin (Co-Director)

Professor Eugene McLaughlin is Professor of Criminology at City, University of London. His current research concentrates on: the policing challenges of multi-pluralist, risk societies; the news-media, crime and criminal justice policy; the politics of law and order and new developments in criminological theory

Dr Gemma Birkett (Co-Director)

Dr Gemma Birkett is a senior Lecuturer in Criminology at The City Law School. As such, she has extensive experience of working on criminal justice consultations and legislation, speech-writing and briefing on political issues. Gemma continues to undertake research and consultancy work for several criminal justice charities.

Dr Jessica Corsi

Dr Jessica Corsi is a Senior Lecturer for the School of Policy and Global Affairs at City, University of London. Jessica's work focuses on how the law can prevent and alleviate violence and foster substantive and transformative equality. Her approach spans public international, regional, and domestic law, and combines theory, data, traditional legal research methods, and social science research methods.

Dr Jonathan Ilan

Dr Jonathan Ilan is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at City, University of London. He has a strong interest in ethnographic research methods, providing advanced training internationally. He also keenly follows and contributes to debates in Cultural Criminology. He is a member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Criminology.

Professor Peter Hungerford-Welch

Professor Peter Hungerford-Welch is a Professor Law and Associate Dean at The City Law School.His teaching includes modules on the Bar Vocational Studies (BVS) and Master of Laws (LLM) programmes, and supervision of dissertations on those programmes. He is a regular contributor to the Criminal Law Review and is the Cases Editor for that journal.

External Advisory Board

Andrea Coomber KC

Andrea Comber is Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform. Andrea was appointed Queen's Counsel (Honoris Causa) in 2022 for making a major contribution to the development of the law in England and Wales. She joined the Howard League in 2021, having previously worked at JUSTICE, INTERIGHTS, at the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva and at the South Asia Documentation Centre in New Delhi. She is qualified as a barrister and solicitor in Australia.

Natalie Byrom

Dr. Natalie Byrom is Director of Research at The Legal Education Foundation where she leads work to build the evidence base for what works in helping individuals to secure their rights. She sits on the Administrative Justice Council and the Litigants in Person Engagement Group of the Civil Justice Council.

Lord Ponsonby

Lord Ponsonby. Frederick Matthew Thomas Ponsonby is a current member of the House of Lords. He is a Labour Party spokesperson for Justice and Home Affairs.

Professor Betsy Stanko

Professor Betsy Stanko, OBE, was formerly head of evidence and insight in the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime. She is now Visiting Professor at UCL’s Department of Crime Science and Security and City University London’s Sociology Department, and Emeritus Professor of criminology at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is Strategic Advisor And Academic co-lead at the Home Office funded Operation Soteria Bluestone.

Professor Julian Roberts

Professor Julian Roberts was a member of the Sentencing Council of England and Wales from 2008-2018. He is currently Executive Director of the Sentencing Academy, a London-based institute which links scholars with practitioners, and promotes greater public understanding of sentencing in England and Wales.

Arnand Doobray

Anand Doobay is a Partner and Lawyer at Boutique Law LLP. He is a Council Member of Justice and is on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office pro bono panel.

Sir David Hanson

Sir David Hanson is Member Board of Trustees at Nacro and Denbighshire council for voluntary services. He is a retired Labour MP, and former Home Office Minister.

Richard Garside

Richard Garside is the Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. Prior to joining the Centre, Richard worked in communications at Nacro, and, before that, at Survival International. He appears regularly in national print and broadcast media as a commentator on crime and criminal justice.

Liz Hogarth OBE

Liz Hogarth OBE is former Ministry of Justice lead on women in the criminal justice system. She was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to women offenders. Now retired, she continues to advocate for the reforms called for by Baroness Corston, working in a voluntary capacity.

Roma Hooper OBE

Roma Hooper OBE is the founder of Prison Radio Association and Make Justice Work.  She is also currently chairperson at Clinks, which supports, promotes and represents the voluntary sector working with people in the criminal justice system and their families.

Andrea Simon

Andrea Simon is Director at End Violence Against Women. Andrea was formally EVAW’s Head of Public Affairs, focussing on leading the organisation’s work influencing legislation, and policy across multiple government departments to improve responses to women and girls at risk of and experiencing VAWG

Sir Geoffrey Nice

Sir Geoffrey Nice KC is a British barrister and judge. He took part in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and was lead prosecutor at Slobodan Milošević's trial. He is chair of the China Tribunal and the Uyghur Tribunal, which have investigated human rights abuses in China

Hamid Sabi

Hamid Sabi is a London-based human rights lawyer who has served the Iran Tribunal, China Tribunal and on-going Uyghur Tribunal.

Lord John Thomas

Lord John Thomas is a British judge. He served as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2013 to 2017.

Professor Jonathan Doak

Professor Jonathan Doak is Professor of Criminal Justice and Associate Dean for Research in Nottingham Law School. Jonathan is a member for the Centre of Rights and Justice, the Centre for Advocacy and the Centre for Mediation and Dispute resolution.

Nicholas Vetch

Nicholas Vetch is co-founder of the Big Yellow Self Storage Company, was awarded a CBE for his work with The Big Yellow Foundation which provides support to vulnerable members of society including refugees.

Vian Dakhil

Vian Dakhil is an Iraqi parliamentarian and is one of two Yazidis currently serving in Parliament. She is known for speaking out against the Yazidi genocide currently being carried out by ISIS and for advocating for humanitarian assistance on their behalf.