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The School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University offers the LLB, LPC and LLM; degrees in Policing and Criminal Investigation, Sociology, Criminology and Terrorism, Chemistry, Forensic Science and Forensic Investigation. With over fifty staff members we have expertise in rape testing, prevention and prosecution, ballistic testing, fibre analysis, soil analysis, Family Law and Employment Law among others. We offer BA and BSc, MSci and MScs along with a Masters by Applied Research in a range of areas, including Forensic Archaeology.

On this blog you will find news from the different areas of the School. You can follow us on twitter at:

@StaffsUniLPF

@StaffsCJF_Dept

@StaffsUniLaw

New Children’s Library Offers Parent-Students More Flexibility When Studying on Campus

Staffordshire University has created the facilities so youngsters can browse through books while their parents are studying alongside them.

It was officially opened [on the 10th October], with children from the university’s nursery invited along as VIP guests.

Sociology student Natalie Campbell, who runs a mature parents and carers’ network at the university, came up with the idea after seeing other students juggle assignments with looking after children.” – Read the full article on the Stoke Sentinel here.

Forensic Investigation Student Presents Research in Canada

In April, MSci Forensic Investigation student, Gareth Griffiths, and MSci Forensic Science student, Kirstin Gent, funded their own research trip to Canada. This week, Gareth returned to present his research.

Gareth’s research, that he presented on Thursday 5th October in Ottawa, involved validating software for Faro and also enabled Gareth to collect data for his final year project on Blood Pattern Analysis, using Faro Zone 3D on different types of wallpaper.

 

He will also be helping out with a workshop about BPA with Faro Zone 3D.

Congratulations Gareth!

Funded PhD Project Opportunity

Recovery and profiling of encapsulated DNA from Counterfeit Banknotes

This is a funded PhD project with a tax-free bursary of £14,000 pa and includes tuition fees and bench fees. This is funded by the European Central Bank.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the viability of obtaining DNA profiles from DNA encapsulated between holographic patches and substrate on counterfeit euro banknotes. The project will also consider the recovery and profiling of DNA from between two layers of substrate, in cases where counterfeits have been composed of two bonded layers of paper.
The project will commence by seeking to understand the dynamics of DNA transfer and persistency on an adhesive surface. In other words, how much DNA might actually transfer on to the adhesive bearing substrate (foil patch or paper) – given that being ‘encapsulated’ any DNA present is likely to be insulated from contamination and have originated in the place of production.
A major part of this project is developing an effective recovery method – that can maximise the amount of DNA recovered from within the adhesive (a challenge in its own right) without picking up any material that may be present on the non-adhesive side – which potentially could have originated anywhere.

We are looking for someone with a forensic science qualification and experience of DNA profiling techniques. Some travel will be required as part of this project.

For further information, please contact Dr Graham Williams (graham.williams@staffs.ac.uk).

If you wish to apply for this PhD, please email your CV and a brief covering letter to Dr Graham Williams by 10th October 2018

European Researchers’ NIGHT

European Researchers’ NIGHT event

29th September 2018

Science in Space

Beacon Building – 9am till 12pm

Interactive Virtual Reality Activities

Psychology of space….in Space (T203)

Dr Nichola Street/Dr Gemma Hurst/Dr Daniel Jolley

Imagine spending a year (or more) inside one living space, with no gravity.  That’s the job of an astronaut.   Join us for an interactive activity considering the physical environment (or ‘space’) that travellers spend time in and the psychological impact it can have on them. Using Virtual Reality, visitors will explore the space station and learn about potential interventions to make the environments in space more beneficial and less damaging to psychological health.

CSI in Space (T204)

Dr Claire Gwinnett, Tom Bird, Amy Osbourne

Come and investigate a potential murder that has been committed on an alien planet…  As lead investigators of the Internal Investigation Team for the intergalactic space company Staffordshire Universe, you will need to travel to the alien planet, investigate the scene and decide which evidence you are taking back to the ship….before your air supply runs out!  Come join the Staffordshire Universe team in solving the crime and learning about how Virtual Reality can be used in crime scene analysis

 

Short Lecture Series (T103)

Is there life on Mars? (9am, 10am)

Space is often called the final frontier – the place where one day we might call home. But do others already call it home? What evidence is there for life on Mars and could we potentially use the materials there to make it habitable ourselves? Dr Duncan Parker will discuss the chemistry of the Red Planet from its soil, to the atmosphere via the discovery of liquid water. Come along and decide for yourself whether there’s life on Mars.

Biology in Space (9.15am, 10.15am, 11am)

What happens to human and animals in space? How does this affect the bodies? What happens to the body when it lands back to earth? Dr Jonathan Parrott Lecturer in Forensic Biology gives a short talk answering these biological questions.

Crime in Space (9.30am, 10.30am, 11.15am)

What happens if you commit a crime in space? Whose jurisdiction is it? How does the space environment affect the dynamics of forensic evidence? What happens if you fire a gun in space? Dr Graham Williams Head of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science gives a short talk answering these questions

Monkey Dust mayhem: the English city reportedly at the centre of a drug-fuelled ‘epidemic’

Sarah Page, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology, has written an article about the reported Monkey Dust epidemic for The Conversation. “Our ongoing research raises questions about how widespread and localised use of the drug really is.” You can read the full article here

You can also watch Sarah discussing this on our YouTube Playlist here

Healthy Relationships Education Offers a Real Chance to Reduce Domestic Violence

As part of the new-style sex education curriculum, school pupils will soon start learning about healthy intimate relationships – which could help to significantly reduce future domestic abuse in the UK. In recent research we did on this issue we spoke to various professionals who work with victims of domestic abuse. One of them told us that they believe healthy relationships education needs to be “taught in schools from a young age”.

Read Sarah Page and Dr Em Temple-Malt’s full article for The Conversation here.

We’ve Discovered a Way to Recover DNA From Fingerprints without Destroying Them

Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science, Dr Sarah Fieldhouse, has written a piece for The Conversation about discovering a way to recover DNA from fingerprints without destroying them.

“Fingerprints hold a lot more information than you might realise. They don’t just provide a pattern with which to identify people. They can also contain DNA. And as neither DNA nor fingerprints are infallible ways of working out who was at a location, combining both pieces of evidence could be vital for investigators.

The problem is that forensic scientists usually have to choose between one or the other, as recovering DNA can mean destroying the fingerprint and vice versa. However, my colleagues and I have discovered a new method that could collect both types of evidence at once.” Read the full article here.

Diary of an Erasmus Student

Sociology, Criminology and Deviance student, Jessica Silva Freitas, studied at Karlova University in Prague on an Erasmus Exchange this year and has shared her experiences with us.

I would 100% recommend students to go on an Erasmus exchange. When I was given this opportunity, I wasn’t sure if I was going to go for it. I asked my partner what his opinion was and my best friends and they all told me to go for it as it is an amazing opportunity[: …] you might not get it again. So I decided to go through with applying to see if they accepted me and they did. I was over the moon, I was so excited to go to another country, learn their culture, just being able to live somewhere else! It was hard leaving family, friends and my partner behind but it was all worth it! I still managed to go visit them during the weekends which wasn’t too bad.

During my time in Prague as Erasmus student, I have learnt so much about myself: I learnt to be more independent (not having to depend on anybody), I learnt to live in another country alone not knowing their language and […tried] my hardest to learn the basics. Believe it or not, I managed to keep on top of my tasks (assignments) and not stressing. The most important thing I learnt while away is loving myself. I found myself again while being away from everyone.

Prague is a beautiful place, it was my first time coming here and I loved it! The buildings, the history behind Prague is incredible. When you first come here, you can struggle as the money currency, transport, the culture is all different, but you get the hang of it. The best parts of Prague is meeting new people all over the world (Spain, Portugal, Italy, America, Poland, Germany etc..). I know I have made friends for life.

Studying in Prague, you have so many opportunities that the university provides. The student union even manages for students to go abroad; how crazy is that! They create events such as going abroad in Croatia, Poland, Germany and even the towns in Czech Republic.[There are a mixture of courses in Prague] where you can decide which [ones] you [want to] pick. At the beginning it’s confusing because you [have] to enroll again […] and there might be the possibility where the course may be packed and you have to go on the waiting list. But the best part is that they give you a week to ‘try out’ the course and if you don’t like it, you can drop out. I found [this] really useful and I picked over seven modules to try out and ended up with four at the end.

The student life around here is so good! It is up to you if you want to go out or not; there are many nightclubs around Prague [and] I have only experienced a few. They are all good! My favourite is Roxy (depends on the day you go, there are a mixture of genres). It is really cheap in Prague, just make sure you don’t buy something straight away before you see other stores as some might be cheaper and the same value.

 

There are many beautiful sightseeing places, lots of museums, many shopping centres (who doesn’t love a good shopping spree and food afterwards!)

 

I would advise students to prepare themselves for the changes: you may get home sick for a couple of weeks (depending on who you are). Also, be prepare to be independent it is not a scary thing, it is actually a really good thing! Travel as much as you can wherever you are! Be confident and believe in yourselves.
Wishing everyone luck if you go studying abroad. Best wishes X

 

 

Gaining Practical Experience: A Placement with Staffs Police

Final year MSci Forensic Investigation student, Elli Sarvari, discusses her placement with Staffordshire Police in the Justice Services Department. 

Starting in January 2018, as part of my MSci Forensic Investigation degree, I undertook a placement. I was luckily enough to be given the opportunity to work alongside Staffordshire Police in the Justice Services Department. In Justice Services I was based within the Vulnerable Victim Unit (VVU). The Unit is newly formed and aims to “enable Staffordshire Police to be better and more consistent in its delivery of services to victims and witnesses, particularly the most vulnerable.” The VVU achieve their aim through conducting research and developing current strategies. They are also a reference point for both external (Criminal Justice Partners) and internal (Office of Police and Crime Commissioner) work surrounding victims.

Whilst working alongside the VVU I conducted some research. The research centered around Special Measures, which is an entitlement for any victim or witness identified as vulnerable or intimidated as per the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Special Measures are a form of support that an identified vulnerable or intimidated victim or witness can use in court. These include support such as screening from the defendant when presenting in court and removal of wigs and gowns. My research centered around the process of applying for Special Measures and, if it was effective, to help improve the service to victims and witnesses. I was able to access live systems used between the Police and the Criminal Justice System to conduct the research. I was ultimately able to provide recommendations to Staffordshire Police in how they could improve their service to victims in relation to Special Measures.

Alongside conducting the research, I was able to attend meetings surrounding the topic of victims and witnesses, such as the Victim and Witness Service Improvement Group chaired by ACC Barnett – who is also the National Police Lead for Victims and Witnesses; I conducted environmental scanning the shared to the meeting attendees. I was also given the opportunity to undertake some scoping on behalf of ACC Barnett surrounding research into a National Victim Strategy.

I had a fantastic experience at my placement, and it gave me irreplaceable knowledge. I am very thankful for the opportunity and I would advise anyone given the opportunity to take a placement to do so. I was able to network and learn about the wider area of jobs available to me. I just want to thank the VVU and Staffordshire Police for giving me the opportunity.

Elli Sarvari

LLB Student Gains Bar Experience at Mini-Puppilage

At the beginning of May, LLB Law student,  Lauren Pritchard spent a week at 25 Bedford Row on a mini-piupillage, in order to gain  practical experience in advocacy and at the Bar. 

25 Bedford Row are a specialist Criminal Defence set of Chambers

Tuesday 1st May
On my first day I travelled to Snaresbrook Crown Court to accompany Abi, who had two matters to deal with.

The first was regarding an appeal from the Magistrates Court of a common assault sentence. Her defence was impeccable and she managed to argue a suspended custodial sentence down to a mere fine.

She invited me out and treated me to lunch, where we got to know each other more and she was able to give me some invaluable insight and advice about life as a young woman at the Bar. She also shared that she campaigns for diversity, via public speaking and social media.

In the afternoon, a case regarding a young couple where a stab wound had been inflicted was adjourned until a later date. This helped me to understand the level of information that is needed before you can properly represent a client in court and that some matters need to be held off under further information is gathered; in this case, they were awaiting a specialist to inspect if the wound was self-inflicted.

Wednesday 2nd May
During the first half of the day I joined Monica Stevenson in a historic sexual abuse case, where a man had molested his niece many years ago. I learned that these sorts of cases are very popular due to change in social attitudes, meaning that more than ever people are speaking out and getting justice for historic matters that may previously not have been considered. This case was adjourned until a later date.

Wednesday afternoon I joined Chester Beyts for a trial regarding four separate counts, including false imprisonment and grievous bodily harm. The trial continued over until the end of Thursday.

I witnessed the trial from beginning to end, was permitted access to the cells speaking to various defendants [and the] advocates lounge, which allowed me to network, as well as sitting next to Chester during the course of his advocacy. I got to witness a jury getting sworn in and counter arguments from both Chester and the Crown Prosecution Service. I also got to read the case bundle, being shown how to research relevant statute and case law, as well as court procedure and protocol.

This experience was very insightful, it put academic studies into practice and allowed me to meet the defendant behind the crime, his background and how he was portrayed by the court.

Chester was by far the most memorable barrister I worked with. He went above and beyond to teach me as much as he could about practicing at the Bar: from how a case is put together […] with basic procedures/traditions, to general friendly advice about attitudes and conduct when applying. He took me out and treated me to lunch and we have exchanged e-mail and numbers, inviting me to ask any further questions/advice at any time which is extremely helpful for the future.

Thursday 3rd May
Thursday morning I joined Laura Collier and Alex Jamieson, whilst waiting for the previous over-running trial to finish, so Chester’s could formally begin.
Laura was defending an appeal concerning a traffic offence, however this was adjourned as they were awaiting further evidence.

Following this, I accompanied Alex who was defending a young man who had stabbed someone. This hearing was Alex’s mitigation to the judge: some points included his age and background. This is then taken into consideration by the judge which may lessen the defendant’s sentence. This was an extremely good demonstration of advocacy.
Throughout the afternoon I re-joined Chester for the remainder of the trial. Unfortunately, due to lack of witness correspondence, this case was chucked out and no further action was taken.

Friday 4th May
During my final day at Inner London Crown Court, I had an amazing opportunity to witness true advocacy.

This case was regarding a multi-defendant trial where three defendants were being tried. Co-defence barristers, Alex and Emma, were presenting their closing speeches to the jury.

Each speech is approximately 40 minutes long [and] sums up each defendants whole defence in attempt to lure the jury to find them not guilty.
I had never witnessed this before and it gave me a true taster of how important the way a barrister presents the case [impacts] some[one’s] sentence.

Thankyou!
I send my most sincere thanks to the sponsor who has allowed me to attend this amazing opportunity, which I otherwise would not have had the means to attend.
This opportunity was truly invaluable to me in terms of the experience I will need in order to be considered in such a competitive field, ultimately making me stand out and become more employable when applying for full pupillage and tenancy.

I have been able to network which allows me to gain further opportunities and contacts for my future career. Mostly, it has confirmed my aspiration to work as a barrister, making me ever more determined to thrive. I have since joined the Honourable Society of Middle Temple and intend to start my application to the Bar Professional Training Course in December.