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Crime and Punishment Cluster

Crime and Punishment Cluster

Led by Professors Rosie Meek and Nick Hardwick, the Crime and Punishment Research Cluster is made up of members of academic staff and PhD students/postdoctoral scholars from the Department of Law and Criminology and the Department of Social Work, all active researchers undertaking multi-disciplinary and impactful research in criminal justice settings.

Within the ‘Crime’ strand of our research expertise we have two primary themes: ‘Victims and Exploitation’ (for example we have current projects focusing on human-trafficking, stalking, elder abuse, child protection, and drug markets) and ‘Terrorism and Extremism’ (current projects include a focus on radicalisation, counter-terrorism, jihadist terrorism, paramilitaries, the Northern Ireland peace process, organisational crime and terrorism). 

The ‘Punishment’ strand of our research expertise focuses specifically on Prisons, Parole and Probation and includes current projects focusing on risk assessment processes, prison health (for example mental and physical health, self-harm, physical activity), probation healthcare, prisoner education, peer mentoring and voluntary sector involvement in prisons, women and transgender prisoners, disability in prisons, IPPs and life sentences, resettlement and the families of prisoners, as well as the scrutiny and monitoring of prisons and other places of detention (HM Inspectorate of Prisons and National Preventative Mechanisms).

In all of these areas we have a track record of successful research grant applications, regularly publishing papers in international journals and producing policy briefings, leading research texts and collating edited collections. Members of the group serve as journal editors as well as consultants and research partners to national and international Universities, external organisations, government departments and charitable groups (these are wide ranging and currently include – but are not limited to – the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations and Council of Europe torture prevention committees, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, HM Prison and Probation Service, the Scottish Prison Service, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, the Parole Board, RAND Europe, The Disabilities Trust, Prisoners Education Trust, the Prison Reform Trust, CREST, Depaul International, Bristol Human Rights Implementation Centre, the Commission for Counter Extremism, Surrey County Council). 

The department of Law and Criminology’s two flagship PGT programmes also map directly onto these research areas with colleagues from the Crime and Punishment research cluster leading and contributing to our MSc in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Studies and our MSc in Forensic Psychology. 

The Cluster provides a forum for members for exchange ideas, share information and support one another's research through collaboration and peer review.

One of the pictures illustrating the Crime and Punishment research cluster pages is of a visit in 2018 that I and Professor Meek made to a Colony 25, a prison on the outskirts of Kharkiv in Ukraine, as part of an evaluation were doing of a prison resettlement project run by a charity called Depaul Ukraine. I have visited the Depaul project in Kharkiv three times now and got to know the Depaul project team well. The city is in the East of Ukraine, close to the Russian border and so is a primary target of the Russian invasion. The Depaul project leader, who I now regard as a friend, sent me a message, in his original halting English,  on the first day of the war:

Now I am at the home with my wife. Situation not goog, attack is continuing. We are hearing sound of tank shoot. Attack near our work,  where you was. Our staff in the shelter also. Now the air attack. 

I am waiting. 

I am believe all will be good.  Not just now but will be good. We must go through it.[sic] 

Normally what I would expect to write about a project of this kind is the results of our evaluation (the project was great), the survey methods we used and perhaps a summary of Ukrainian prison conditions from the international literature.  But on this occasion, as a violent page of history is turned , I wanted to say something about the ordinary Ukrainians we met who now shelter in their houses as the tanks roll in.

Depaul Ukraine is a Catholic project. It is not a faith I share and they do not proselytise or restrict their services, but all the staff convey an obvious vocation.  The project began working with the street homeless in the city and I spent time with them as they went out on the streets, searching for often elderly homeless people who were sheltering from the cold, providing food and where they could taking them back to their emergency shelters. The shelters started as derelict buildings or warehouses at the railways station, but gradually the team managed to raise a bit of money, beg or borrow second-hand furniture and with their own building skills they made the shelters habitable.  I also went with them into hospitals, where homeless people without identification papers were not entitled to medical care, and saw how the Depaul staff nursed, fed and washed their clients there.

The project quickly identified the revolving door between prisons and the streets - a problem familiar to anyone who works with prisons in the UK - and so painstakingly negotiated permission to work with prisoners before they left prison. When the project started in 2016 Ukrainian prisons were based on the old Soviet gulag system, and had a notorious reputation. The United Nations had condemned the use of torture. So the work of the project was not only to meet prisoners' practical needs - for ID, a place to go when they left prison, and a familiar range of financial and social problems - but also to work with prison officials to change the culture of the prisons.  As the reputation of the project grew, and wider social and political reform took place, its influence grew too. We went with them as they met government ministers and in  2019 I attended a conference they organised in Odessa ( a city that is also now overrun) for an emerging network of NGOs working in prisons in Ukraine. Anyone who has been to a conference of charities working in prisons in the UK would have felt a home there - and recognised the passion, the disputes between the pragmatists and the idealists, a bit of disorganisation, the partnership working and the political sophistication some delegates showed. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic they continued their work. It was not possible for me to visit during this time but I kept in touch. I know it was a struggle for them to obtain masks and other equipment but where they could they visited and when that was not possible, they used shaky internet connections to carry out their work.

It would be wrong to claim too much success for the project but there is no doubt that their work coincided with a real improvement in the treatment and conditions of prisoners in Ukraine. The prison population fell and the United Nations recorded that improvement when they returned to the country in 2019.  I saw it for myself.

My point here is not a political one but it is important to me not to lose sight of the individuals affected as war rages.  The Depaul project team would fit into any resettlement projects in the UK. They are staying put for now but hundreds of thousands of refugees are on the move. As with refugees from other conflicts I have worked with, they could be our team members. And there will be millions of other Ukrainians who a few days ago were living lives like ours but whose lives have now been torn apart and who will be considering whether to stay or go. I am not going to fundraise here but there are many excellent projects working in Ukraine itself and, here in the UK,  with refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere.

Professor Nick Hardwick  

A research team led by Prof. Rosie Meek and Prof. Nick Hardwick has obtained a £240,000 grant from the ESRC's Secondary Data Analysis Initiative for a project titled "Secondary Analysis of Data Collected over a 20-year Period by HM Inspectorate of Prisons". The project will answer key questions related to prisoners' experiences of imprisonment and develop a 20 year database of over 100,000 prisoner surveys. The project was officially launched on 23 February 2022 - see here.

At the beginning of 2022, a research team led by Dr Emily Glorney, Robert Jago and Natasha Rhoden was awarded £12,000 to undertake an independent evaluation of the Surrey Police Criminal Justice Department organisational change project. 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. More information is available here.

Towards the end of 2021, Dr Emily Glorney has been awarded £5,500 for a project on offending behaviour and policing practice. The project is run in co-operation with Surrey and Sussex police forces. The research award was made by the Royal Holloway, University of London, Civic University Research Fund. The full title of the project is "The impact of Covid-19 on offending behaviour and policing practice: maintaining positive outcomes on crime reduction, intervention, and operational efficiency". More information is available here.

With funding support from the European Research Council (€1,499,818.00), Dr Giovanni Travaglino will undertake a project titled Legitimization of Criminal Governance: Group Comparisons and Within-Individual Dynamics (CrimGov). This international study will utilise multiple methodologies and approaches and include empirical data collection with adolescents in Italy, Japan and the UK to understand legal socialization in risky contexts. The project will lead to a new understanding of how political power and authority are exerted outside institutional channels. It will foster theoretical development across various disciplines and establish solid empirical evidence to influence educative and law enforcement practices.

Dr Emily Glorney, Dr Anastasia Jablonska, Dr Serena Wright, Professor Rosie Meek and Professor Nicholas Hardwick have completed a two-year project funded by The Disabilities Trust. This looked to understand the efficiency and efficacy of a Brain Injury Linkworker service for women in prison. The research identified that up to a third of women in an English prison had a brain injury and explored the benefits of a brain injury linkworker service. Recommendations were made for future service improvement, as well as cultural change within prisons to enhance the effectiveness of interventions. The relevance of provision of a gender-responsive, trauma-informed service was emphasised. The outcome of the evaluation has been presented to the Criminal Justice Acquired Brain Injury Special Interest Group, chaired by Lord Ramsbotham, and is due to be presented to prison Governors in the women’s prison estate in the new year, as well as a launch in Parliament.

Dr John Morrison is a co-investigator on an US DOD Minerva Initiative project investigating the social ecology of radicalisation. This research is being carried out in collaboration with colleagues at University College London, Imperial College London and the University of Aarhus. John's work focuses on the case study of Belfast, in Northern Ireland. The project it is worth a total of $1.06million USD overall and is from October 2016 to September 2019. Dr John Morrison is also the host and developer of the Talking Terror podcast. On the podcast he interviews leading experts in terrorism and counter-terrorism studies.

Dr Leah Moyle and Dr Alex Dymock (Goldsmiths, University of London) are working on a project funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award entitles Pharmacosexuality: the past, present and future of sex on drugs. The project investigates the historical and contemporary interaction between the pharmaceuticalisation of sexuality and recreational drug use in sexual contexts, and uses both archival and qualitative methods. You can read more about the project here, or follow its progress on Twitter: @pharmacosex

Dr Anthony Richards is the Director of CoJiT (Combating Jihadist Terrorism and Extremism) an independent and privately funded research project on terrorism and counter-terrorism in the UK. The CoJiT project commissioned 27 synthesis papers from leading experts and analysts and these will appear in the edited volume: Jihadist Terror: New Threats, New Responses (Bloomsbury/I.B.Tauris, in press).

Leading international research by Professor Rosie Meek on the impact of sport and physical activity in prisons has led to government policy change and improvements to practice in prisons for the 84,000 adults and children held in English and Welsh prisons, as well as the wider global prison community. It has prompted the UN Office for Drugs on Crime to propose a resolution on the use of sport to reduce youth crime in global contexts, it has empowered prison staff to make better use of physical activity as part of the prison regime and it has inspired sporting groups and national bodies to take their work into prisons.

Rosie's research has created widespread media interest prompting public conversations taking place across a wide range of national newspapers (The Guardian, The Observer), mainstream health and fitness magazines (Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Health Club Management), TV and radio (BBC Breakfast, BBC news channel, BBC Radio 4) and has stimulated debates on BBC Radio 5 Live and LBC radio.

Rosie has also engaged with and advises a broad range of voluntary, community and sporting organisations (including UK coaching, England Boxing, Table Tennis England, parkrun, UK Active, the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice, the Change Foundation, and the Youth Sport Trust) on the use of sport and physical education in prisons and in reducing crime.

Read more about Rosie's work here.

Dr Emily Glorney was invited and added my support to a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson dated 15th November 2021. The letter asked the Prime Minister to commit the government to prepare and publish a strategy to meet the needs of all children and adults with an acquired brain injury, via Chris Bryant MP’s Acquired Brain Injury Private Members’ Bill on Acquired Brain Injury. Dr Glorney's research findings on brain injury among women in prison specifically contributed to the proposed Bill.

Dr Emily Glorney concluded a research project funded by the Surrey County Council on permanent school exclusions, which proved influential for the debate at the Multi Agency Summit on 2 March 2022 (see here). The project brokered a relationship with Surrey Police and Youth Justice to extend existing research by linking data across public services​. As a result of her work, Dr Emily Glorney received the Award of the High Sheriff of Surrey in recognition of her great and valuable service to the community (see here).

Working in prisons and with people who have offended raises complex ethical and practice issues. We recognise the power imbalances that are present, the limitations of any external perspective, and the need to pay proper regard to the safety and security of ourselves, our students, prisoners and people who have offended, and staff. The cluster is committed to working to the highest ethical and standards and to ensure the risks to ourselves and others that may arise from our work are effectively and proportionately managed. We recently held a half-day conference on this topic and we are working closely with academic colleagues, doctoral students and other stakeholders to develop the support and guidance we offer.

The cluster organised the following meetings in the spring term of 2022:

  • Friday 4 February 14.00 -15.30: Dr Giovanni Travaglino discussed ‘Dynamics of dependence and counter dependence in political violence: a cross-cultural analysis’
  • Friday 25 February 14.00 -15.30: Dr Joel Harvey discussed ‘Social psychology in Forensic Practice’ which is the subject of an edited book he is working on;
  • Friday 25 March 14.00 - 15.30: Prof Rosie Meek, Kim Reising and Prof Nick Hardwick discussed their ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative project ‘Secondary analysis of data collected over a 20 year period by HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ and present some of the practical and ethical issues arising from the feasibility study that created the foundation for the project.

On 2 July 2021, the School of Law and Social Sciences sponsored a Multi-Agency Summit on Permanent School Exclusion in Surrey. The event was organised in collaboration with Dr Julie Llewelyn, High Sheriff of Surrey 2021-22. This event was the culmination of three years of work with Royal Holloway, in collaboration with Surrey County Council and Surrey Police, to commission and conduct research that addresses the issue of permanent school exclusions in Surrey. The Royal Holloway research team, led by Dr Emily Glorney, collaborated with multiple public and third sector services across the county to address the research issue of how to enhance support for children and young people at risk of exclusion and promote inclusion. The research provided the evidence on which to base decision-making in Surrey. 

Alexandra Aldridge: Sex, Drug and Consent: An Empirical Study

Eke Bont: Moral Injury in Republican Ex-Prisoners from the Northern Ireland Conflict

Laura Bowden: An international study of the clinical application of violence risk assessments in forensic mental health services

Erin Condirston: Prison Education and Wellbeing: A cross-contextual analysis of the impact of prison education on the mental wellbeing of prison learners

Lisa Edmondson: An exploration of parkrun in the custodial environment

Jeanette Hall: The impact of pepper spray on rehabilitative culture in prisons

Heidi Maiberg: However you feed a wolf she will always look toward the forest? Assessing the impact of measures meant to support de-radicalisation and disengagement

Khadijah Naeem: The Grenfell fire as a state crime.

Natasha Rhoden: Prisoner and staff perspectives on prison security and insecurity

Caroline Turner: Impact and assessment of psychopathic traits in the workplace

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