Professor Clive Norris

BA, MSc, PhD

Department of Sociological Studies

Professor of Sociology

Deputy Director of the Sheffield University Centre for Criminological Research

Professor Clive Norris
+44 114 222 6460

Full contact details

Professor Clive Norris
Department of Sociological Studies
Room LG15
Elmfield Building
Northumberland Road
S10 2TU

Clive was born in London in 1960, and he studied Sociology at the University of Sussex, graduating in 1981. In 1982 Clive was awarded an ERSC Studentship to undertake an M.Sc in Social Research Methods at the University of Surrey. It was here that his interest in the sociology of crime and social control was first kindled.

As part of the course, students had to undertake a compulsory placement with a research outfit. Clive found himself seconded to the Police Foundation for six weeks to undertake a study of police patrolling. This serendipitous placement laid the foundations of his future interests.

Not only did it become the basis for Clive's MSc dissertation, but led to his commitment to a sociology based on first-hand observation; a love of the adrenaline rush of high speed chases in the name of research; and a sustained interest in the sociology of social control.

It also saw Clive ideally placed to apply for a linked ESRC PhD scholarship in 1983 to study the sociology of policing under the direction of Dr. Nigel Fielding at the University of Surrey. Clive's fieldwork returned him to the world police chases, the boredom of the police canteen at 3am and even found him living in a police station for two months.

Despite the lure of the field, Clive completed his doctorate entitled 'Avoiding Trouble - an observation study of police patrolling in two police forces' in 1986 whilst simultaneously being employed as a research officer on a two year ESRC project to evaluate the impact of community policing initiatives.

1987 saw Clive take up a temporary, one year, teaching post at the then Ealing College of Higher Education (now Thames Valley University) and in 1988 a permanent post at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University) to teach the sociology of deviance, criminal justice and social research methods. Clive moved to Hull to become a lecturer in Criminology in 1993 and began to develop his research profile and interest in the sociology of surveillance.

Clive started with an ESRC grant to explore the subterranean world of the police use of informers, and then in the wake of the tragic killing of toddler Jamie Bulger, a grant to examine the social impact of CCTV surveillance. In 1998, Clive was awarded funding by the ESRC to run a series of seminars on Surveillance.

This for the first time brought together interdisciplinary researchers concerned with the social impact of the new surveillance technologies. As a direct result we established a free online journal entitled Surveillance & Society - of which Clive is one of the founding editors. At present he is working on a comparative study of the social impact of CCTV in seven European countries.

Research interests

For the last decade Clive's research has involved documenting and analysing the increased use of surveillance in contemporary society.

In particular it has focused on the police use of informants, CCTV surveillance, and surveillance in criminal justice system. Clive has also played a central role in establishing Surveillance Studies as a specialist field of knowledge by building the infrastructure to create a viable sub-discipline.

This has informed his work in setting up: a journal - Surveillance and Society; creating an academic community of scholars the through the Surveillance Studies Network; hosting a biennial conference (held in Sheffield 2004, 2006, 2008); being awarded (with others) an ESRC seminar series, and participating in range of international collaborations, UrbanEye, 2001-2004, Technical University of Berlin); For Whom the Bell Curves, 2005-9, (University of Trondheim); The New Transparency 2008-14) (Kingston University, Ontario), Living in Surveillance Societies (COST – University of Edinburgh 2009 – 2013).

Clive has also been increasingly involved in trying to influence the national and international policy agendas. The publication of the SSN report on the Surveillance Society (commissioned from the SSN by the UK´s Information Commissioner of which Clive was an expert contributor to and joint author of the main report) led to massive international media coverage on issues of surveillance, and heralded a major debate in the UK.

In particular two select committees took as their starting point our report, the House of Lords Select committee on the Constitution, which launched an inquiry into `Surveillance Citizens and the State, and the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee inquiry into `A Surveillance Society?´ As part the SSN Clive presented written evidence to both select committees and gave oral evidence to the Lords.

In addition he has advised the American Department of Homeland Security, on the policy implications of CCTV, and mot recently have written a review of CCTV and Crime Prevention for the European Parliament´s, Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, which has been circulated to all member of the Parliament.

Research group

Clive particularly welcomes applications from students in the specialist areas listed below although he has broad interests in the sociology of deviance and social control and comparative criminology.

  • The sociology of policing
  • The police use of informers
  • The impact and effectiveness of CCTV surveillance
  • Surveillance in the workplace
  • The sociology of the new surveillance technologies (DNA, Drug and Alcohol Testing)
  • The experience of surveillance
  • The media representation of surveillance
  • Decision making in the criminal justice system
Teaching activities

Clive currently teaches two undergraduate modules:

  • SCS213 Contemporary Perspectives in Crime and Deviance
  • SCS1007 Understanding Crime - Sociological Perspectives

See our Undergraduate Degree pages.

Clive also contributes to the MA in Social Research.