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Professor Robert Canton

Job: Professor in Community and Criminal Justice

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 2078728




Personal profile

  • Probation
  • Prison
  • Punishment
  • Sentencing
  • Human Rights
  • Crime
  • Criminology.

Research group affiliations

Criminal Justice, Policy and Practice

Publications and outputs

  • Theories of Punishment
    Theories of Punishment Canton, Robert
  • Should there be a right to rehabilitation?
    Should there be a right to rehabilitation? Canton, Robert Chapter explores what might be involved in deciding a 'right to rehabilitation'
  • Why Punish?
    Why Punish? Canton, Robert Three ways of understanding the question ‘Why punish?’ are distinguished. Answers commonly invoke three purposes and justifications – that punishment is the way to reduce offending, that it rights the wrong, and that it vindicates the victim. All these accounts are challenged. There is particular attention to the concept of rehabilitation and an explication of what this analysis entails for the work of probation. It is concluded that there is a need to develop a broader philosophy of responding to wrongdoing with attention to the implementation of punishment and to the ‘end state’ where the wrongful act may be considered resolved. The article, based on the McWilliams Memorial lecture in June 2018, has a short response from Prof Nicola Padfield. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Probation and the philosophy of punishment
    Probation and the philosophy of punishment Canton, Robert With the important exception of critiques of rehabilitation, philosophers of punishment do not often have probation as their focus. This (relative) neglect is mutual: when probation policy makers, scholars and practitioners reflect upon their own work, practices and values, the insights of the philosophy of punishment are rarely among their chosen resources. This paper attempts to make some connections and to point to some ways in a fuller engagement might shed a different light on some familiar questions in the philosophy of punishment and enrich thinking about the work of probation. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Censure, Dialogue and Reconciliation
    Censure, Dialogue and Reconciliation Canton, Robert
  • Probation
    Probation Canton, Robert; Dominey, Jane
  • Why Punish? An Introduction to the Philosophy of Punishment
    Why Punish? An Introduction to the Philosophy of Punishment Canton, Robert (Book) A study of the origins, purposes and ethics of punishment
  • Social Justice, Human Rights and the Values of Probation
    Social Justice, Human Rights and the Values of Probation Canton, Robert
  • Probation and the Limits of Criminal Justice
    Probation and the Limits of Criminal Justice Canton, Robert This paper considers what criminal justice can be expected to achieve and draws attention to its limited capacity to reduce crime. The paper goes on to explore the implications of this account for the work of probation and what probation agencies need to consider when they try to explain their work to the public.
  • Why do people commit crimes?
    Why do people commit crimes? Canton, Robert

 Click here for a full listing of Rob Canton's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Probation
  • Prison
  • Penal Policy
  • Criminology
  • Mental health
  • International / comparative criminal justice studies.



Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Howard League
  • British Society of Criminology
  • European Society of Criminology.

Conference attendance

European Society of Criminology (Ljubljana) presentation ‘Good Lives, Good Societies’ September 2009.

Consultancy work

  • Co-opted Expert to Council of Penological Cooperation, Council of Europe (2007 - 10)
  • Adviser to the Council of Europe in developing European Probation Rules (2008 – 2010)
  • Specialist Adviser to House of Commons Justice Select Committee Inquiry into the role of the probation service (2010 - 11)

Current research students

  • Susan Atherton
  • Kim Sadique (2nd supervisor)
  • Hannah Begum
  • Jacqui Norton (2nd supervisor)

Externally funded research grants information

Place, Social Situation and Burglary in Nottinghamshire, Safer Nottinghamshire Board / Nottinghamshire Police, Inquiry into reasons for high levels of burglary in Nottinghamshire, March - September 2009 (PI).

Offender Learning in the Community, City and Guilds Centre for Skills Development, attempt to hear the “user voice” of offenders accessing – or maybe failing to access – learning services through probation, April - November 2010 (PI).

ISTEP - Implementation Support for Transfer of European Probation Sentences (PI) – EU funded project in partnership with National Offender Management Service, May 2011 - May 2013.

4SWEEP Erasmus Life-long Learning programme (PI) Erasmus funded in partnership with several European universities – October 2011 - October 2013.

Professional esteem indicators

Editorial boards/reviewing activities: journal, date from, date to, role

  • British Journal of Community and Criminal Justice (2003 - )
  • European Probation Journal (2009 - )
  • EuroVista (editor)
  • European Probation Journal (2009 - )
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Regular reviewer of book proposals for Willan / Routledge Palgrave Macmillan Policy Press

Professor Canton has reviewed for:

  • Ghent University Research Group
  • NIHR
  • Canadian
  • Free University Brussels

Case studies

Professor Canton's research work has been mainly conceptual rather than empirical. The area where his work would be most likely to have an impact is probation in the assessment period.  Professor Canton has written several papers that seek to clarify the purpose and significance of the tasks of probation. This has had international (European) significance and impact.

Rob Canton

Probation Working With Offenders Rob Canton

Dictionary of probation and offender management