Professor Joe Tomlinson

Professor Joe Tomlinson

Professor of Public Law
University of York

Tell us about yourself

I am a socio-legal researcher interested in administrative law and justice, and I conduct both theoretical and empirical research in this field. My research seeks to understand how law, courts, and administrative organisations respond to complex societal challenges.

My work has covered a wide range of issues, such as poverty, health and social care, mental health, forced displacement, and AI and automation. With my colleagues Jed Meers and Simon Halliday, I founded and now lead the Administrative Fairness Lab at the University of York, which seeks to develop and use evidence to make frontline public services fairer.

Tell us about your project funded by the Centre

Our project, funded by the Centre and the University of York, looks at people and groups who are deemed “vulnerable” in law, including through both legislation and case law. We are interested in exploring how this idea is used in law but also how different state agencies, including but not limited to the police, handle implementing legal obligations arising out of legal provisions relating to vulnerability.

How does your research connect to the Centre’s mission and values?

All of my work is collaborative and problem-oriented; I am always looking to find new ways of thinking about and responding to problems in my field using different methods or approaches. I am looking forward to doing this within the Centre too through my new project ‘Over-policed and under-protected? Administrative justice, criminal justice, and positive obligations to protect “legally vulnerable” groups‘.

What interests you in the connections between policing and vulnerability?

My research on public services has consistently led me to complexities around the idea of vulnerability. At the same time, the idea of vulnerability is increasingly filtering in the law itself, and the consequences of this are contestable. I am therefore keen to delve further into this idea and what it means for how we effectively and fairly organise public agencies and how vulnerability and policing intersect. I am also looking forward to meeting people with shared interests through the Centre’s network.