Criminal records, biopolitics and the moral technologies of ‘othering’

  • Thu 21 Oct 21

    16:00 - 17:00

  • Online


  • Event speaker

    Dr Andrew Henley

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Centre for Criminology

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Dr Anna Di-Ronco

Join the Centre for Criminology for an insightful online seminar with Dr Andrew Henley.



Dr Andrew Henley is Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Nottingham, and is one of the U.K's leading academic experts into the so-called ‘collateral consequences’ of criminal records. Andrew's doctoral thesis comprised a critical history of the legal rehabilitation of people with criminal records in England and Wales.

In addition to his academic work, Andrew previously served as a trustee and later Chair on the board of the charity Unlock which provides information, advice and advocacy for people with convictions who are seeking to move forwards positively with their lives.

The collation and use of criminal records by the state has conventionally been regarded as essential for the prevention and detection of crime, the administration of justice and the maximisation of public safety.  For instance: the police may check the criminal records of suspects to determine whether they are ‘known offenders’; those working in the judicial sphere may investigate the prior ‘form’ of witnesses and defendants to adduce ‘bad character’ or determine an appropriate sentence; and educational authorities and social services departments may conduct criminal background checks to determine the ‘suitability’ of individuals to work with or foster children. 

Whilst not disputing that these official functions provided the original justification for state criminal record repositories, this paper will argue that other unofficial and quasi-penological functions are also served in the present by the collation, retention and dissemination of criminal background information.  Indeed, it will explore how the boundaries of redemptive possibility in late-modern society are governed through a discriminatory biopolitics which uses criminal records as a moral technology for the regulation of life chances. Underpinned by neoliberal and authoritarian governmentalities, this biopolitics distinguishes ‘law-abiding citizens’ - constructed as deserving of a fuller range of rights and entitlements - from a ‘denizen class’ of convicted people whose ‘punishment’ is perpetuated through exposure to various exclusionary conducts.

This seminar is part of an online open seminar series, hosted by the Centre for Criminology.

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