Prof Neal Hazel

School of Health & Society

Photo of Prof Neal Hazel

Contact Details

Current positions



Neal is Chair of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Salford. He has previously held posts as Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Director of the Centre for Social Research at the university. He has delivered more than 40 funded research projects, mainly in youth justice and family support, including several national surveys and evaluations. Neal specialises in providing useful policy and practice messages, including recently through the Beyond Youth Custody research with Nacro. He also recently led the national evaluation of youth custody during COVID-19 (for HMPPS). He is currently leading the largest ever survey of children’s experiences of crime in Britain (funded by Nuffield Foundation).

Neal’s research on family support includes the first national study of the impact of poverty and disadvantage on parenting in Britain (for Department of Health). He also conducted Britain’s first national study of parental discipline (ESRC), which led to a NSPCC campaign against the physical punishment of children.

In 2018, Neal was appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice to the Youth Justice Board, which is responsible for overseeing the youth justice system across England and Wales. He led the Board’s development of ‘Child First’ as the sector’s guiding principle and the ‘Constructive Resettlement’ model. He is also former HM Deputy Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales, where he designed the 'Quality and Impact method' for assessing robustly any issues with privatised probation services (subsequently informing renationalisation).

Areas of Research

Research topics:
Neal's substantive research interest has always been in ensuring policy and practice support for families and young people. This has included:-
• Children and crime
• Youth/juvenile justice (particularly prison and resettlement/reentry)
• Young adults in criminal justice
• Family discipline, violence and control (against partners and children)
• Experiences and support for families in difficulties (including poverty)
• Children in care
• Supporting fathers
• Neighbourhood policing
• Children's pro-social identity development

Research methods:
Neal has always developed and used a variety of innovative research methods in his research:-
• Qualitative techniques to collect data from children on sensitive issues (including physical punishment, social exclusion, and experiences in justice).
• Large quantitative surveys on difficult issues (including the first national survey of parental discipline, the first national survey of parenting in poverty [both with D Ghate], and the largest survey of children's experiences of crime).
• Innovative scales and measurements for hard to reach issues (including the Misbehaviour Response Scale and the Pro-social Identity Scale).
• Evaluations of new and sensitive policy and practice (including Medway Secure Training Centre, and the main custodial sentence for children [DTO]).

Informing policy and practice:
Neal has always had a particular interest in ensuring that research informs policy and practice, and the processes to ensure positive impact He has:
• Co-founded a university institute specifically designed to connect researchers across disciplines with policymakers and industry (2012-14).
• Written about introducing research knowledge and evaluation models into criminal justice inspection methodology and criteria (2013-15).
• Published about the development of evidence based policy, including national adoption of Child First as the guiding principle for youth justice (2023 with S Case) and the 'Constructive Resettlement/Working' model for custody (based on his Beyond Youth Custody research).


During his career, Neal has designed two full Masters programmes, 13 new Masters modules, and 11 Undergraduate modules.

Starting with the most recent, Undergraduate modules he has taught on include:
• Probation & rehabilitation
• Criminal justice and human rights
• Prison and punishment
• Becoming and social scientist
• Crime, conflict and society
• Understanding criminology (L3)
• Violence in society
• Policing and social control
• Intersectionality and crime
• Analysing social data
• Youth and crime

Qualifications and Recognitions

  • PGCHE Higher Education Practice and Research

    2004 - 2005
  • PhD Social Policy

    1995 - 1999
  • MSc Applied Social Research (Distinction)

    1994 - 1995
  • BA (Hons) Sociology and Social Policy (First Class)

    1989 - 1993