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David O'Mahony

Appointed May 2021.

David O'Mahoney photo
David O’Mahony is University Dean of Partnerships (Research) and Professor of Law at the University of Essex. His research focuses on the meaning of justice in the context of criminal justice systems, with particular sensitivity to the rights of individuals and the use of restorative justice and alternative ways of responding to crime.

His research is based on analyses of the needs of victims, communities and offenders and he has applied a range of empirical methods to explore concepts of justice and rights in criminal justice. He has developed a distinctive critical theory of restorative justice and its application in criminal justice systems. His current projects include research applying restorative justice perspectives to the criminalisation of squatting in England and Wales and theorising the role of restorative justice within modern criminal justice.

His research has been supported by over £1.3m in research grants and has directly impacted on the reform of criminal justice in several jurisdictions. He has conducted a national evaluation of the youth justice system in England and Wales for the Home Office, and was commissioned by the Criminal Justice Review Group, set up after the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, to conduct a fundamental review of Juvenile Justice in Northern Ireland. This research was published as Juvenile Crime and Justice (Criminal Justice Review Group Research Report 17, London: HMSO, 2000) and led to the enactment of the Justice (NI) Act 2002, which established the first mainstreamed restorative youth conferencing system in Europe. His study of the use of restorative practices for dealing with young offenders, using a large-scale quantitative analysis and qualitative observations of police practice, led to the adoption of new police cautioning procedures.

David started his academic career at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University, and previously taught at Durham University and Queens University, Belfast. He has held a fully funded visiting research fellowship at Cornell Law School, USA under the Gender, Sexuality and the Family: Expanding International Human Rights Norms programme. He is a member of the editorial board for the journal ‘Youth Justice’, and a member of the Northern Ireland Crime Prevention Panel and the Restorative Justice Working Group.

His teaching interests include the legal regulation of young people, restorative justice, crime and social control, criminal law and legal and social research methods.