Crime, Responsibility and the Trial

This stream brings together theorising crime and criminalisation, the institution of the criminal trial, and broader questions of responsibility. In respect of the former we ask: how are theories of criminalization linked to modern understandings of the criminal law as a conceptually distinct body of rules, and how this in turn has been shaped by the changing functions of criminal law as an instrument of government in the modern state? How are such dilemmas played out in the trial, both in its core function, as well as when its reach is extended – or ‘politicised’ - to achieve a broader set of objectives? And might we answer questions over how responsibility is attributed and/or withheld by the law in these contexts?

Criminalisation and the Criminal law

With an emphasis on interdisciplinarity, this stream focuses on the principles and goals that should guide decisions about what kinds of conduct should be criminalized, and the forms that criminalization should take. The overall aim is to develop a normative theory of criminalization. Running parallel to this, an interest in what principles and goals should guide criminal law-making (what should be criminalised and under what conditions?) informs a key research interest around the history and genealogy of Criminal Law.


The theory of the trial

This project explores a normative theory of the criminal trial as a way of defending the importance of trials in our criminal justice system. The trial, we argued, should be understood as a means of calling defendants to answer a charge, and if they were found to be criminally responsible, to account for their conduct.

Within the broader framework of theorising the criminal trial there has developed also an interest on political trials.


Responsibility, Justice and Reconciliation

With a particular emphasis on transitional justice, its particular logic, emphasis on reconciliation or restoration, and its particular uses of criminal law, typically amnesty, there has developed an important research interest in Glasgow around the political uses of predominantly criminal and constitutional law to enable and institutionalise processes of regime change and social-political transition and the difficult demands it places on the law to navigate.