Professor Andreas von Hirsch

  • Emeritus Honorary Professor of Penal Theory and Penal Law, Cambridge University
  • Honorary Professor of Penal Law, Faculty of Law, Goethe-University, Frankfurt
  • Director, Forschungsstelle für Strafrechtstheorie und Strafrechtsethik, Law Faculty, Goethe-University, Frankfurt
  • Founding Director, Centre for Penal Theory & Penal Ethics, Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University

Honorary Fellow, Wolfson College


Professor von Hirsch’s special interests are criminal sentencing theory, philosophy of criminal law, and ethical aspects of crime prevention policies. Four of his books deal with the rationale of criminal sentencing:Doing Justice (1976), Past or Future Crimes (1986), Censure and Sanctions (1993) and (with Andrew Ashworth) Proportionate Sentencing: Exploring the Principles (2005). Two books deal, respectively, with parole and sentencing guidelines: The Question of Parole (1979) and The Sentencing Commission and its Guidelines (1987). A further volume (with Anthony Bottoms, et al) deals with sentencing policy and its possible deterrent effects, Criminal Deterrence and Sentence Severity (1999). He is co-editor, with Andrew Ashworth, of a volume of readings on sentencing theory and policy, Principled Sentencing, 3d ed. (2009). Further volumes on sentencing theory have appeared in German under the title, A. von Hirsch and N. Jareborg, Strafmass und Strafgerechtigkeit (1991), and in Swedish under the title, A. von Hirsch,Proportionalitet och Strafbestämning (2001).

A second area of interest is criminalisation: what kinds of conduct should be prohibited by the criminal law, and for what reasons. Here, Professor von Hirsch has written on the Harm Principle and ‘remote harms’, the Offence Principle, paternalism in the criminal law, and related subjects. A recent monograph has appeared on the subject, co-authored with Professor A. P. Simester, under the titleCrimes, Harms and Wrongs: on the Principles of Criminalisation (2011). Two volumes on criminalisation in the context of German criminal law have appeared: R. Hefendehl, A. von Hirsch and W. Wohlers (eds), Die Rechtsgutstheorie (2003); and A. von Hirsch, K. Seelmann and W. Wohlers (eds), Mediating Principles: Begrenzungsprinzipien bei der Strafbegründung (2006).

A third area of interest is ethical issues in crime prevention. In this area, Professor von Hirsch has written on ethical issues concerned with public television surveillance (CCTV), restrictions on access to public space, and civil disqualifications attending conviction.

A volume of his on all three of these issues, criminalisation, sentencing theory, and ethics of crime prevention has appeared in Germany, under the title: A. von Hirsch, Fairness, Verbrechen und Strafe: Strafrechtstheoretische Abhandlungen (2005).

Professor von Hirsch is the founding Director of the Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics at the Institute of Criminology. The Centre’s first volume has been published under the title A. von Hirsch, D. Garland, & A. Wakefield (eds), Ethical and Social Issues in Situational Crime Prevention, Oxford: Hart Publications (2000). A second volume, appeared in 2003 under the title, A. von Hirsch, J. Roberts, A.E. Bottoms et al (eds) Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice: Competing or Reconcilable Paradigms? Oxford: Hart Publishing. A third volume addresses offensive behaviour and ethical issues in its legal regulation; its title is A. von Hirsch and A. P. Simester (eds), Incivilities: Regulating Offensive Behaviour(2006). A fourth, more recent, volume is J.V. Roberts and A. von Hirsch (eds), Previous Convictions at Sentencing (2010).

In 2007, he was appointed as Honorary Professor at the Law Faculty of the University of Frankfurt a.M., Germany. He is Director of Forschungsstelle für Strafrechtstheorie und Strafrechtsethik at the Faculty of Law, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He now resides primarily in Frankfurt. He also has held the title Adjunct Professor of Penology in the Law Faculty of the University of Uppsala, Sweden.

He holds an honorary doctorate of laws from Uppsala University, and an LL.D. from Cambridge University.