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School of Applied Social Sciences


Professor Simon Hackett

Principal of St Mary's College

How to contact me

  • My phone number in St Mary's College: +44 191 334 5946
  • My phone number in my SASS office: +44 191 334 1472
  • Email:
  • Follow me on twitter: @simonjhackett
  • Follow St Mary's College on twitter: @StMarysOfficial


Current post

I am Principal of St Mary's College and Professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) at Durham University.

As Principal of St Mary's College, I am responsible for the overall direction and leadership of the College. St Mary's is one of Durham's oldest colleges and comprises a community of approximately 900 undergraduates and over 100 postgraduates from all disciplines. See the College website at:

In SASS, I teach primarily on the MSW Programme as well as the BA and MSc in Criminology. I also have a cohort of research students under my supervision on areas of my research (see below).

I am Vice Chair of the University's Ethics Advisory Committee and Chair of Durham University's Safeguarding Management Group.

Outside the University, I am involved in a range of activities relating to my areas of specialism.

I am Chair of NOTA, a child protection charity and professional association with branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland. NOTA promotes work with offenders as a way of safeguarding children and preventing sexual abuse. See:

I am Independent Chair of the Durham Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group. 

Appointed by the Secretary of State, I am Non-Executive Director of Doncaster Children’s Trust.

I act as Academic Advisor to the Board of CAFCASS.

I am Trustee and Agency Decision Maker for DFW Adoption, a local adoption charity. See:

I was member of the ESRC's Grant Assessment Panel 'B' (until 2015) and was previously research advisor to the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and Special Advisor to the Department of Health/ NIMHE Violence and Victims of Violence and Abuse Prevention Programme.

Previous posts

Between 2013-2016, I was Deputy Head (Research) of the Durham Colleges. In 2011, I was Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health at Durham. Between 2008-2011, I was Head of SASS. In my Faculty role, I had responsibilities for the management of research across the Faculty and chaired the Faculty Research and Ethics Committees. As Head of SASS, I had overall responsibility for the running of the School, its degree programmes, research, budget and academic community.

I rejoined the University in September 2006 having been Professor of Child Welfare at the University of Bedfordshire and, before that, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at Durham. I was previously Tutor at the University of Manchester.

Prior to working in a university setting, I was a practitioner in the child protection field. I was Programme Director and co-founder of G-MAP, one of the UK’s leading organisations working with children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours. I was a Child Protection Officer with the NSPCC in Manchester for seven years and I was part of a team set up to investigate allegations of institutional abuse arising from the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry. I also worked for several local authorities in both youth justice and child protection teams.

My research and interests

My research relates largely to child maltreatment in its various forms and to professional responses designed to safeguard children’s welfare.

I am involved in the recently established National Centre of Expertise in Child Sexual Abuse, funded by the Home Office and led by Barnardo's. Current funded research projects include an evaluation of the Durham Child Advocacy Centre approach to child sexual abuse, funded by Durham Constabulary and the Home Office.

With Professor John Carpenter of the University of Bristol, I recently completed the largest RCT undertaken to date internationally on interventions for children who have been sexually abused, as part of a research programme funded by NSPCC. 

In 2016, I was funded by NICE to undertake an evidence review, in conjunction with colleagues at Sheffield, on harmful sexual behaviours and I was expert member of the NICE Public Health Advisory Committee which produced national guidance on this topic, see: 

Previous studies include an ESRC funded study (as PI) of the long-term outcomes of professional interventions with children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours which was undertaken with Professor Helen Masson of the University of Huddersfield. My previous research has focused on service provision, policy and user perspectives in relation to the young people involved in the child welfare system. Other completed projects include an evaluation of the impact of interagency training in safeguarding children for the Department for Education.

I am first author of the recently developed NSPCC national operational framework on harmful sexual behaviours which is available at:

For a recent blog discussing this framework, please see:

Collaborations and PhD student enquiries

I am keen to collaborate with other researchers from across the world who share my interests. If you are interested in undertaking a PhD under my supervision, I would be delighted to hear from you directly about your ideas and to discuss opportunities to work with you at Durham. I have extensive supervisory experiences and an outstanding record of PhD completions.

A list of my current and recently completed PhD supervisees is included below (see section entitled 'supervises'). Their projects are diverse and range from work on child abuse, sexual abuse and sexual offending, children and sexuality, gender, and safeguarding in the UK and internationally.

Research students who have recently successfully completed their PhDs under my supervision include: Dr Josie Phillips on therapeutic relationships; Dr Evgenia Stepanova on children in institutional care in Russia; Dr Sarah Greenhow on adoption; Dr Eric Baumgartner on masculinity and the youth justice system; Dr Lesley Deacon on harmful sexual behaviours in childhood; Dr Beth Casey on child neglect; Dr Chris Jones on adoptive family life; Dr Nashmi Al-Anazi on the physical punishment of children in Saudi Arabia; Dr Lukman Mohamad on child prostitution in Malaysia; Dr Abi Taylor on professional decision making; and, Dr Helen McIlveen on models of sexual health service provision. It is a privilege to have worked with such talented individuals who have made an enormous contribution to their fields.

Read what some previous PhD students say about being supervised by me in SASS

Research Groups

Research Projects

  • Mapping and Exploring Services for Children and Young People who have Sexually Abused
  • An explorationof Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). What is it? What are its causes? And what are adopters' experiences?
  • Animal and Child Maltreatment
  • Child Advocacy Project
  • Evaluating Inter-professional Training for Safeguarding Children
  • Letting the Future In: helping children and young people overcome the effects of sexual abuse
  • Recidivism, desistence and life course trajectories of young sexual abusers
  • Step Up to Social Work Longitudinal Evaluation

Research Interests

  • Child maltreatment and safeguarding children
  • Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours
  • Sexual abuse and sexual offending
  • Child development
  • International comparative social welfare
  • Risk and resilience
  • Assessment
  • Therapeutic interventions with children
  • User participation in social welfare
  • Parenting
  • Adoption and out-of-home care

Teaching Areas

  • Child development
  • Child maltreatment
  • Intervention theories, methods and skills
  • Research Methods
  • Risk and resilience

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Calder, M. & Hackett, S. (2013). Assessment in child care. Using and developing frameworks for practice. Second edition. Russell House Publishing.

Journal Article

Other (Print)


Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Social work: Child abuse and child protection
  • Criminology: Youth crime and juvenile offenders
  • Aggression: Interpersonal violence
  • Aggression: Sex offenders
  • Social work: Adoption and parenting
  • Public policy, health and well-being: Child development and welfare

Selected Grants

  • 2016: Durham Child Advocacy Centre: Evaluation (£59951.00 from Durham Constabulary)
  • 2015: Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB): approaches to improve identification and referral of children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour (£35624.00 from NICE)
  • 2011: Letting the Future In. A national evaluation of NSPCC's new intervention programme for children who have experienced sexual abuse (£82527.00 from NSPCC)
  • 2006: The Outcomes of Interprofessional Training (£6136.00 from DFES)