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Celebrating Our Success and Looking Forward to New Challenges

A quick outline of some of the award-winning research carried out in our multi-disciplinary department

  • Date09 February 2022

The researchers at the Department of Law and Criminology work across disciplines to respond rapidly and in innovative ways to changing societal needs.


Royal Holloway, University of London enjoys an international reputation for the highest quality teaching and research across the sciences, arts and humanities. The College ranked 22nd overall in the Guardian University Guide for 2022, and it is one of the top 350 universities in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2022.

The research culture at the Department of Law and Criminology contributes to these outstanding achievements. Here is a quick overview to some of the most current and recent projects carried out by our colleagues in the department.


Investigating the Legitimization of Criminal Governance: Group Comparisons and Within-Individual Dynamics

In December 2021, Dr Giovanni Travaglino was awarded an European Research Council – Starting Grant (ERC-StG) of €1,499,818.00 to pioneer a new multimethod approach to the study of criminal and illegal governance.

The project will investigate why individuals may accept and legitimise the power of criminal groups such as mafias, large gangs and other criminal organizations. Despite the economic and safety threats linked to their existence, criminal groups may become embedded in the communities’ social fabric. As a result, they are able to limit public opposition against them and reduce individuals’ willingness to cooperate with legal authorities. The project examines the psychological, cultural and societal factors facilitating these social dynamics.

The 5-year project aims to transform current understanding of criminal governance and individuals' perception of authorities more in general, with a strong potential of interest to policy-makers. By addressing, for the first time, the broad social, cultural and psychological conditions sustaining criminal governance, the project will be able to define the critical factors that may promote social change, empower communities and improve the collaboration between legal authorities and social groups in the fight against criminal actors.

More information is available here.


Unlocking Voices from Behind Prison Walls

A research team from the Department of Law and Criminology led by Prof Rosie Meek and Prof Nicholas Hardwick obtained a £240,000 grant from the ESRC's Secondary Data Analysis Initiative to unlock detailed, confidential surveys of prisoners. These have been conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales (HMIP) since 2020. The resulting database consists of survey data from at least 100,000 respondents and it contains more than 10 million analysable responses.

The project started in September 2021, after a six-month feasibility study that examined the technical and ethical challenges in accessing the data. The general goals of the project are to better understand the relationship between self-reported characteristics and experiences of prisoners who report feeling unsafe, and how the conditions and experiences reported by the prisoners relate to their experience as inmates.

The project revolves around 4 research questions. Each research question will result in a peer reviewed paper and a practitioner guide. Data will be made available to other academics and policy makers.

More information is available here.


Co-operation with Police forces

Between December 2021 and January 2022, Dr Emily Glorney received two separate grants for projects with local police forces.

The first project envisages a collaboration with Surrey and Sussex Police. The project will explore the impact of COVID-19 on offending behaviour and policing practice. The pandemic and restrictions on movement during lockdowns in the first year had a big impact on policing, with several positive outcomes. The project will explore how positive outcomes on crime reduction, intervention, and operational efficiency observed during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic can be maintained in local policing.

The research award of £5,500 was made by the Royal Holloway, University of London, Civic University Research Fund. This fund aims to strengthen local community partnerships to generate solutions to local problems.

The second project received a grant of £12,000 to evaluate organisational change at Surrey Police Criminal Justice Department. The project will explore whether and in what ways an organisational restructure has achieved the objectives of improving the service that the Criminal Justice Department provides to other areas of Surrey Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. It will involve extensive engagement with stakeholders, and review of relevant performance data. Co-investigators in this project are Robert Jago and Natasha Rhoden.


First RespondXR: Digital vulnerability of immersive training for first responders

In October 2021, together with other researchers, Prof Jill Marshall has been awarded an EPSRC, SPRITE+ research grant of approximately £30,000. SPRITE+ is an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Digital Economy NetworkPlus, that stimulates new directions for research relevant to security, privacy, identity, and trust.

Police services in England provide immediate assistance to individuals at a scene of emergency and/or potential criminal event. However, the significant reduction in policing resources means that training needs had to be made more efficient as well as effective.

Extended Reality (XR), including both virtual and augmented reality, is becoming prominent in many sectors for training and operations. Yet, in the rush to exploit the benefits of XR for immersive training, the potential digital vulnerabilities that may be exposed have yet to be properly examined.

RespondXR will consequently, for the first time, map the vulnerability space (i.e., its social, technical, legal, ethical risks and impacts), from the perspective of (a) those delivering the training, (b) the first responders who will be undertaking this training, and (c) the technical teams bringing forward new training methodologies in XR.

The project will explore the socio-technical challenges posed by the adoption of this technology, providing the foundations for further research on the safe, secure, and ethical use of immersive training technology for enhancing the response of policing in England.

More information is available here.


Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) in the UK: Current and Emergent Digital Vulnerabilities

In September 2021, together with other researchers, Dr Gauri Sinha has been awarded a £37,492.91 SPRITE+ grant, funded by EPSRC. The grant was a result of an intensive two-week ‘sandpit’ on digital vulnerabilities, where interdisciplinary experts from across the UK came together to foster new ideas. 

The objective of the research is to investigate threats through new FinTech BNPL business models/services operating in the UK. This is crucial due to the pace of innovation around this emerging form of unsecured credit, the growth of the market and the lack of regulation around this type of credit. The research aims to influence policy and practice at a range of stakeholder institutions, ultimately leading to the protection of vulnerable consumers.

More information is available here.


Our best wishes to our colleagues to succeed in their transformational research efforts!

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