I have been Head of the Department of Social Policy and Criminology since August 2015, having joined the Open University in January 2013.
I have long-standing interests in the incidence, nature and regulation of corporate crime and harm, and in particular the regulation and ‘management’ of health and safety at work, and have published widely on these matters.
I was a founding Member and Chair (1999-2009) of the Centre for Corporate Accountability. The CCA was an independent, not-for-profit advice, research and advocacy organisation. I have continued to work with the wider Hazards Movement, the Institute of Employment Rights and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. I am a Board member and Trustee of INQUEST.
Before joining The Open University in January 2013 I worked at Liverpool John Moores University where, since 1998, I was Professor of Sociology. There, over 21 years, I taught across Schools of Business, Law and, latterly, Social Science and Humanities.
My current research interests span a number of related areas.
One is a focus on the enforcement of environmental, food, and occupational health and safety law; my research has quantitative and qualitative dimensions and focusses in particular on the period from 2004 when the 'Better Regulation' initiative was rolled out in the UK. This in turn relates to a wider research project, focusing upon both the idea as well as the practices of regulation 'after the crisis', this entailing critical examinations of the relationships between local and national states on the one hand and the production of corporate harm on the other, as well as a critical engagement with academic attempts to understand these relationships. This is the subject of a book, Social Protection After the Crisis: regulation without enforcement, 2016, Bristol: Policy Press. Some of the core themes of the book were also explored in a short Briefing, ‘Better Regulation’: better for whom?
This work has also generated conceptual considerations regarding the utility and validity of the relatively recent concept of 'state-corporate crime'. In this context I have sought to develop an argument around the increasing salience of a state-corporate symbiosis for the production of crime and harm.
Further, I continue to work, in particular with Paddy Hillyard, on the impacts and potential of a social harm perspective, as part of an ongoing, critical engagement with the limitations of the dominant concerns of more mainstream criminology; and part of this is an emergent critique of the (lack of impact) of recent and current crises upon criminology and socio-legal studies.
Finally, I have long worked, and continue to work, with David Whyte on various (academic, policy-oriented and campaigning) critical engagements with national health and safety and environmental regulation, in terms of both policy and practice, and on corporate crime more generally. Our most recent book was The Corporate Criminal. Why corporations must be abolished, published in 2015 and re-published in a Spanish translation in 2016.
I am currently supervising and have recently supervised PhD students in the areas of corporate killing, corporate crime, regulation, policing and restorative justice.
I have also examined numerous PhDs, including those awarded at the Universities of Birmingham, Edge Hill, Lancaster, Macquarie (Sydney), Middlesex, New South Wales, Northumbria, Paisley, Queens (Kingston, Ontario), Southampton, Sydney, the University of Wales and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
I’d welcome applications for PhD study in any area connected to my research interests.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2016) La Empresa Criminal. Por qué las corporaciones deben ser abolidas, Icaria Editorial. (Spanish translation of Tombs and Whyte, 2015, The Corporate Criminal, below).
Tombs, S. (2016) Social Protection After the Crisis: regulation without enforcement, Bristol: Policy Press, Viii+268 pages.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2015) The Corporation as Criminal. Why corporations must be abolished, London: Routledge, 978-0-415-55637, viii+208 pages.
Pearce, F. and Tombs, S. (2012) Bhopal. Flowers at the altar of profit and power, North Somercotes: CrimeTalk Books, 978-0-9570241-6-8.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2010) Regulatory Surrender: death, injury and the non-enforcement of law, London: Institute of Employment Rights, 978 1 906703 10 3, iv+101 pages.
Coleman, R., Sim, J., Tombs, S. and Whyte, D., eds. (2009) State, Power, Crime, London: Sage, 9781412948050, xviii+278 pages.
Dorling, D., Gordon, D., Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Pemberton, S. and Tombs, S. (2008) Criminal Obsessions. Why harm matters more than crime. Second Edition, London: Crime and Society Foundation, 978-1-906003-14-2, 97 pages.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2007) Safety Crimes, Cullompton: Willan, 978-1-84392-085-4, xviii + 253 pages.
Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Tombs, S., Gordon, D. and Dorling, D. (2005) Criminal Obsessions. Why harm matters more than crime, London: Crime and Society Foundation, 0-9548903-1-0, 72 pages.
Hillyard, P., Pantazis, C., Tombs, S. and Gordon, D., eds. (2004) Beyond Criminology? Taking Harm Seriously, London: Pluto Press, 0745319033, x + 319 pages.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D., eds. (2003) Unmasking the Crimes of the Powerful: scrutinising states and corporations, New York/London: Peter Lang, 0-8204-56918, xvi + 318 pages.
Coles, E., Smith, D. and Tombs, S., eds. (2000) Risk, Management and Society, Kluwer-Nijhoff, 0-7923-6899-1, xv + 300 pages.
Slapper, G. and Tombs, S. (1999) Corporate Crime, London: Addison Wesley Longman, 0-582-29980-2, xi + 279 pages.
Member of Health and Safety project team which prepared Regulating Health and Safety at Work: the way forward, 1999, London: Institute of Employment Rights, 1 873271 72 7, xx + 152 pages.
Pearce, F. and Tombs, S. (1998)Toxic Capitalism: corporate crime and the chemical industry, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1 85521 950 6, xii + 372 pages.
Gallagher, K., Rose, E., Reynolds, J., McClelland, R. and Tombs, S. (1996) People in Organisations. An Active Learning Approach, Oxford: Blackwell, 0-631-20181-5, xxiv + 659 pages.
Tombs, S. (2016) Making Better Regulation, making regulation better?, Policy Studies, DOI 10.1080/01442872.2016.1157854
Tombs, S. (2015) “Crisis, What Crisis? Regulation and the academic orthodoxy”, Special Issue of The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54, (1), February, 57-72.
Tombs, S. and Whyte. D. (2015) Introduction. Crimes of the Powerful, Special Issue of The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54, (1), February, 1-7.
Tombs, S. and Whyte., D. (2015) Counterblast: Crime, Harm and the State-Corporate Nexus, Special Issue of The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 54, (1), February, 91-95.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2014) “Toxic Capital Everywhere: mapping the co-ordinates of regulatory tolerance”, Special Issue of Social Justice. Bhopal and after: The chemical industry as Toxic Capitalism, 41(1/2), December, 28-48.
Tombs, S. (2013) “Still Killing with Impunity: the reform of corporate criminal liability in the UK”, Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 11, (2), 63-81.
Tombs, S. (2013) “Working for the ‘Free’ Market: state complicity in routine corporate harm in the UK, Special Issue of Revista Crítica Penal y Poder [Critical Review of Criminal Critique and Power]. Redefining the Criminal Matter: State Crimes, Mass Atrocities and Social Harm, 5, September, 291-313.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2013) “The Myths and Realities of Deterrence in Workplace Safety Regulation”, British Journal of Criminology, 53(5), 746-763.
Tombs, S. and Hillyard, P. (2013) “¿Más allá de la criminología?” [“Beyond Criminology?”], Revista Crítica Penal y Poder [Critical Review of Criminal Critique and Power], 4, March, 175-196.
James, P., Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2013) “"An Independent Review of British Health and Safety Regulation? From common-sense to non-sense", Policy Studies 34, (1), 36-52.
Tombs, S. and Whyte, D. (2013) “Transcending the Deregulation Debate? Regulation, risk and the enforcement of health and safety law in the UK”, Regulation & Governance, 7(1), March, 61-79.
Tombs, S. (2012) "State-Corporate Symbiosis in the Production of Crime and Harm", State Crime, 1(2), October, 170-195.
Pemberton, S., Tombs, S., Chan, M. and Seal, L. (2012) "Whistleblowing, Organisational Harm and the Self-Regulating Organisation", Policy & Politics, 40, (2) April, 263-279.
Snell, K. and Tombs, S. (2011) "'How Do You Get Your Voice Heard When No-One Will Let You?' Victimisation at work", Criminology & Criminal Justice, 11, (3), 207–223.
Tombs, S. andWhyte, D. (2010) "A Deadly Consensus: worker safety and regulatory degradation under New Labour", British Journal of Criminology, 50, (1), 46-65.
Tombs, S. (2009) "Le violenze e i danni causati dalle imprese" (Corporate Violence and Harm), Antigone, IV, 2-3, 33-61.
I am currently part of the production team working on DD804, Crime and Global Justice. Previously I have worked in production teams on: DD312, Social Policy: Poverty, Wealth and Inequality; DD208, Welfare, Crime and Society; DD301, Crime and Justice; and DD305, Personal Lives and Social Policy.
My teaching at LJMU spanned Corporate Crime, Crime and Political Economy, Critical Criminology, Criminological Theory, Epistemology and the Politics of Criminological Knowledge, and State Crime.