Dr Nathan Hughes

Dr Nathan Hughes

Department of Social Policy and Social Work
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work / Marie Curie Research Fellow

Contact details

Department of Social Policy and Social Work
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Nathan is Marie Curie Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the School of Social Policy. Find out more details about Nathan's Marie Curie Fellowship.


Nathan’s research is concerned with the application of developmental sciences to criminal justice and social policy. In particular, he considers how emerging understandings of neuromaturation offer explanations for patterns of offending among young adults and those with neurodevelopmental impairments, and explores the implications of these emerging understandings for policy and practice within the criminal justice system.

Nathan was recently seconded to the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, where he remains honorary research fellow. He is also senior visiting fellow at the Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne.


•    Youth and young adult criminal justice policy
•    Childhood neurodevelopmental impairment
•    Developmental science and its applications to the social sciences
•    Family-focused policy, practice and research methods

Selected research projects:
•    Applying Neuroscience To Social Policy And The Law – Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship, EU FP7 Framework – 2013-2016
•    Understanding and Supporting Families with Complex Needs - International Research Exchange Programme, Marie Curie Actions, EU FP7 Framework - 2009-2014
•    Evidence review of the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders amongst young people in custody, Office of the Children's Commissioner.
•    Maturity and offending amongst young adults: a literature review, Barrow Cadbury Trust / Transition to Adulthood Alliance.
•    Family and Social Policy: Towards Family-Minded Policy and Practice, British Academy UK-Latin-America Link Programme.
•    Comparative review of policy and practice in relation to anti-social behaviour in the UK, Western Australia and Victoria, Leverhulme Study Abroad Fellowship - 2009.
•    Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups, Evidence Review, Ministry of Justice - 2007-2008.
•    A literature review of whole family approaches to service provision, Social Exclusion Taskforce/Cabinet Office - 2007.
•    National Evaluation of the Children's Fund, Department for Education and Skills - 2003-2006.


Peer reviewed journal articles

Hughes, N., Clasby, B., Williams, W.H. and Chitsabesan, P. (2016) ‘A systematic review of the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders among young people in the criminal justice system’ Cogent Psychology, 3: 1214213.

Hughes, N., Scibberas, E. and Goldfeld, S. (2016) ‘Family and community predictors of language, socioemotional and behavior problems at school entry’ PLOS One, 11(7), e0158802. 

Hughes, N. and Pierse-O’Bryne, K. (2016) ‘Disabled Inside: neurodevelopmental impairments among young people in custody’ Prison Services Journal, 226: 14-21.

Hughes, N. (2015) ‘Understanding the influence of neurodevelopmental disorders on offending: utilizing developmental psychopathology in biosocial criminology’, Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society, 28(1): 39-60.

Hughes, N., Williams, W.H., Chitsabesan, P., Walesby, R., Mounce, L.T.A. and Clasby, B. (2015) ‘The Prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury Among Young Offenders in Custody: A Systematic Review’, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 30(2): 94-105.

Ryan, N.P., Hughes, N., Godfrey, C., Rosema, S., Catroppa, C. and Anderson, V. (2015) ‘Prevalence and Predictors of Externalizing Behavior in Young Adult Survivors of Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury’, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 30(2): 75-85.

Hughes, N. and Munoz-Guzman, C. (2015) Understanding and Supporting “Families with Complex Needs”. Social Sciences. 4: 1335-1339.

Hek, R, Hughes, N and Ozman, R. (2012) ‘Safeguarding the needs of young refugees and asylum seekers: addressing past failings and meeting future challenges’, Child Abuse Review, 21 (5): 335–348.

Hughes, N. (2012) ‘Apoyo a las familias con necesidades complejas: modelos y enfoques en la política y la práctica’, Trabajo Social.

Hughes, N. Wainwright, S and Cresswell, C. (2012) Enhancing and supporting the role of academic tutors in developing undergraduate writing skills: reflections on the experiences of a social work education programme, Learning and Teaching 5(2): 27-48.

Hek, R, Hughes, N and Ozman, R. (2012) ‘Safeguarding the needs of young refugees and asylum seekers: addressing past failings and meeting future challenges’, Child Abuse Review, 21 (5): 335–348.

Hughes, N. (2011), 'Young people 'as risk' or young people 'at risk': comparing discourses of anti-social behaviour in England and Victoria', Critical Social Policy.

Hughes, N, Ward, N and Wainwright, S. (2011) ‘Developing the writing skills of social work students: connecting academic and professional expertise’, Journal of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing, (1): 54-60.

Hughes, N and Munoz-Guzman, C (Guest Editors). 2015. Social Sciences.

Hughes, N and Munoz-Guzman, C (Guest Editors). 2016. Trabajo Social.

Hughes, N and Clarke, H (Guest Editors). 2010. Social Policy and Society, 9, 4, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. ISSN: 1474-7464.

Davies, M.B. and Hughes, N. (2014) Doing a Successful Research Project. Palgrave Macmillian.

Book chapters

Hughes, N., Chitsabesan, P., Williams, W.H. (forthcoming) ‘Neurodevelopmental impairment among young offenders: a focus on of foetal alcohol syndrome, learning disability, communication impairment and traumatic brain injury’ in Bailey, S. and Chitsabesan, P. (eds) Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Cambridge University Press.

Chitsabesan, P. and Hughes, N. (2015) Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Amongst Young Offenders in Winstone, J. (ed) Mental Health, Crime and Criminal Justice:  Responses and Reforms, Palgrave Macmillan.

Hughes, N. and Morris, K. (2014) 'Family Minded Policy and Practice: A critical analysis of contemporary approaches to vulnerable families'. In Hessle, S. (ed.) Social work – social development Vol III: global social transformation and social action: The role of social workers. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 128-131.

Hughes, N. (2012) ‘Antisocial youth and asocial communities: are British youth intolerant or intolerable?’ in Pickard, S. Nativel, C. and Portier-Le Cocq (eds) Les Politiques de jeunesse en mutation : désaffection, répression et accompagnement à la citoyenneté au Royaume-Uni et en France, Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Hughes, N (2011) ‘Intolerant or Intolerable? Antisocial youth in asocial communities’ in Katherine Doolin, John Child, John Raine and Anthony Beech (eds) Whose Criminal Justice? Regulatory State or Empowered Communities? Hatfield: Waterside Press.

Reports and other publications
Hughes, N. (2016) The Burgeoning Influence of Developmental Neuroscience on Policy-Making: contrasted tales of pitfalls and potentials. Issues Paper Series. Melbourne School of Government: Melbourne.

Hughes, N. (2015) ‘Justice Matters: Support for young people with neurodevelopmental impairments’, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies Working Paper, CCJS: London.

Hughes, N. (2015) ‘Neurodisability in the youth justice system: recognising and responding to the criminalisation of neurodevelopmental impairment’, Howard League for Penal Reform, What is Justice? Series.

Hughes, N, Williams, H, Chitsabesan, P, Davies, R. and Mounce, L. (2012) Nobody Made the Connection: The prevalence of neurodisability in young people who offend. London: Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Prior, D, Farrow, K, Hughes, N, Kelly, G, Manders, G, White, S, and Wilkinson, B (2011) Maturity, young adults and criminal justice: A literature review. London: Transition to Adulthood Alliance / Barrow Cadbury Trust.