Simon Howell

Research Fellow

Simon Howell is a research fellow in the Global Risk Governance programme. He holds a PhD in political philosophy from Rhodes University, South Africa. His primary research areas include drugs, gangs, violence, and general mayhem. Previously, he was a Senior Researcher at the Centre of Criminology at UCT.


His core research interest focused on the relationship between justice and violence, and how this relationship is made manifest both in the structures of modern governance and in the architecture of marginalised peoples’ identities. As such, he has conducted research in a diverse array of analytical domains and with people from many different walks of life, including teenage mothers, township youths, drug users, gangsters, and police officials. 

He is a member of the CANNABIS AFRICANA: DRUGS AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA a recently launched project by the Universities of Bristol and Cape Town.

The initiative explores cannabis in sub-Saharan Africa and its impact on socio-economic development, as well as the policy context. It seeks to develop a deeper understanding of cannabis in Africa, focusing not only on its ‘traditional’ uses, but also on its contemporary growth as an economic cash crop and source of livelihoods. The project focuses on four countries, that is, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

He has published a number of academic articles, book chapters and reports, and comments regularly on select topics in the national press. Among others, some of his recent contributions include:

Perkins, G., Howell, S. & Shearing, C. 2020. The Spectre of Trauma in the South African Police Service. In: McDaniel, J., Moss, K., & Pease, K. Eds.  Policing and Mental HealthTheory, Policy and Practice. Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice series. CRC Press, 288-301.

Shell,S. & Howell, S. 2019. Perpetuating apartheid: South African drug policy. In K. Kojjo ed. The War on Drugs and the Global Colour Line. Pluto Press, 2019. JSTOR,

Berg, J. and Howell, S. (2017). “The private security complex and its regulation in Africa: Select examples from the continent.” International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 42(1): 1-22.

Howell, S. and Shearing, C. (2016). “Prisons, tourism, and symbolism: Reflections on hope and its enemies.” In J. Wilson, S. Hodgkinson, J. Piché, K. Walby. (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Tourism. Palgrave Macmillan, 275-292.

Marks, M., Howell, S. and Shelley, S. (2016). “The fluidity of ‘police culture’: Encountering the contextual complexity of policing street-level drug use.” Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 11(2): 1-23.

Dwela, S. and Howell, S. (2016). “Corrupting Influences: Contrasting Illegal Substance Users’ and Police Officers’ Perspectives of each other in Cape Town, South Africa.” Acta Criminologica, 29(3): 49-66.

Howell, S. (2016). “Systemic vulnerabilities on the Internet and the exploitation of women and girls: Challenges and prospects for global regulation.” In H. Kury, S. Redo, E. Shea (eds.), Women and Children as Victims and Offenders: Background, Prevention, and Reintegration. New York: Springer, 574-602.