The School of Law Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University are inviting expressions of interest to apply for Partial Scholarship PhD projects within our school. This scheme gives you the opportunity to enrol on to a PhD project without having to pay any tuition fees. In exchange for this, you would be expected to provide a maximum of 250 hours of teaching support to the Academic Staff. Please note, that no bursary or any other funding will be provided. These projects are only available full-time and you will need to be based on the Stoke Campus.
If you have any further questions regarding the scheme, please contact Dr Graham Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply, in the first instance contact the relevant supervisor for your interested project with your CV. The deadline for your expression of interest is the 25th May 2018 at 5pm. If shortlisted, you will then be invited to interview.
Supervisor: Dr Sean Curley (email@example.com)
An examination of the exercise of judicial discretion in the 20th century and the rise of the purposive approach to interpretation.
It is generally accepted that judges are entitled to exercise discretion where existing law does not provide a precise answer to the issue that arises for determination in any particular case. The question for examination is the exploration of what Oliver Wendell Holmes described as the interstitial spaces between the law. Southern Pacific co. v Jenson (1917) 244.U.S. 205. These gaps are smaller than obvious lacunae (cf The non liquat jurisdiction in international law) and indeed may not at first glance be obvious. The examination is twofold. In the first instance, how do judges identify these interstitial spaces and then having identified them how do they then exploit them. This will then lead on to an examination of the legitimacy of the exercise. Again this is twofold is the identification of the gap in which to exercise discretion legitimate and then having answered that question, is the exercise of discretion thus enabled, legitimate. The concept of legitimacy is vital as it is only those decisions which are legitimate which can constitute valid law which will then be followed by subsequent judges. The concept of legitimacy is inextricably bound in with the exercise of discretion. It matters not if a judge creates the space in an entirely legitimate fashion if he does not then exercise his discretion in such a way as to arrive at a valid decision. Discretion is inevitably based on a judges own moral compass and his own views. When the law has no answer a judge must fall back on his or her own resources. The area of study would look at how the exercise of discretion has changed over the time in question and then look to the influences and experiences that are acting on the judiciary during this time frame.
2. Forensic Science
Supervisor: Dr Claire Gwinnett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Particulate Evidence Persistence in Water Environments
The persistence of evidence in different environments is important in ascertaining when two people or items have come in contact; this provides intelligence information and aids in the reconstruction of crime scenes. Persistence information of certain evidence types, such as fibres, is commonly used in serious crimes as DNA is generally unable to provide answers to ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ a crime took place. The persistence of particulate evidence in water environments has been little studied. Due to this, many scenes of crime officers do not search for this type of evidence if believed to have been exposed for more than 7 days, although initial pilot studies conducted at Staffordshire University indicate that fibres evidence can persist on fabric for over 12 weeks. This PhD will investigate the factors that affect the persistence of fibres, pollen and glass when submerged in different water environments, including but not limited to; donor material, recipient items, exposure time and flow rate. In addition to this, the degradation of certain evidence types in these environments can provide valuable information regarding exposure time which benefits both criminal investigations and environmental science. Currently, the rate at which synthetic fibres degrade in water is not known. This PhD will also investigate the degradation of fibres when exposed to both fresh and salt water environments to aid the interpretation of microplastics in water environments and forensic fibres analysis. The duality of this PhD means that will have impact in both forensic science and the science of plastic pollution.
Supervisor: Dr Lauren Metcalfe (email@example.com)
Examining Child Sexual Exploitation in Staffordshire
Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse: “An individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator” (College of Policing, 2017). Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has been brought to the forefront of the public’s mind in recent years with many high profile cases being publicised in the media. Coupled with the impact of this type of activity, not only on the victim, but families and communities, it is a priority area for police forces and local authorities around the country. Whilst the crime has remained, on the whole, a hidden activity, much has been learnt about the factors considered to put children more at risk. That said, gaps in knowledge still exist with less known about boys and young men becoming victims; offending pathways of perpetrators of these types of offences; and local nuances surrounding characteristics, risk factors and modus operandi. Given the emphasis placed on local authorities and police forces to prevent such crimes from occurring and the recent austerity measures meaning that agencies have to work more efficiently, this research project aims to deliver better understanding surrounding CSE in Staffordshire by utilising police and multi-agency data.
Supervisor: Dr Lauren Metcalfe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Modern Slavery in Staffordshire: Assessing the Risks and Aiding Prevention
The MoRiLE process which assists police forces to understand the range of threats and risks facing the public identified that crimes against the vulnerable presented some of the greatest risk to the safety of people across Staffordshire. These crimes include modern-day slavery. A recent HMIC (changed to HMICFRS) inspection report focusing on Crime Data Integrity has also shown that whilst Staffordshire Constabulary have a good basic knowledge of modern slavery offences, their understanding is limited and they accepted that more work is needed both nationally and regionally to better understand the issues of modern slavery in order to improve the policing response to the issue. Nonetheless, the force is reported as being increasingly aware of the potential for this type of crime and had the highest rate in England and Wales for referral to the NCA for modern slavery. Given this, the proposed project seeks to aid improved understanding and development of risk factors associated with modern slavery through utilisation of police and partner agency data. The hope is that this project will act as an evidence base for the police and their partners to aid in the early identification of such crimes and implement more specific early interventions to better police the issue.
Supervisor: Dr Emma Temple-Malt (email@example.com)
Building resilient and Healthy Family Practices, Protecting Children and Reducing Crime: Identifying Support Needs and Early Interventions – A Multi-Agency Approach
The proposed PhD project will focus on the support needs of families where domestic abuse is connected with parental-substances misuse (Featherstone et al. 2014, Axford et al. 2017). The aim being to develop a multi-agency model that intervenes in such families early, to support members to build resilience, reduce domestic abuse offending and substance misuse issues, which thus far, is an under researched area. Approaches have tended to focus on individual needs of parent(s) or the child and usually social care agencies intervene too late, reducing the efficacy of such interventions (O’Connor et al. 2014). The candidate would undertake a qualitative research project that develops a more holistic needs assessment of the family that includes all family members and agencies which is suggested to produce better outcomes for all involved (O’Connor et al. 2014). Digital technology in the form of an ongoing research blog will be used to disseminate regular updates about the project key findings to partners and participants in this research. The PhD candidate would be joining a supervision team who have been working on improving local responses to domestic abuse offending for a number of years in collaboration with the Safer City Partnership Team and Public Health Commissioners within the local authority of Stoke on Trent. Thus the PhD project would be a continuation of this research, continuing to influence local partnerships and domestic abuse provision and has the potential to contribute new insights into policy debates and national Government strategies for tackling domestic abuse.
Supervisor: Dr Em Temple-Malt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Caring Communities: Caring for Sexual minorities in Later Life
Our ageing population is one of the key pressing social problems of our time. Of particular note, are the critical issues that surround caring for the UKs elderly population and who is responsible for delivering this care (Philipson 2013). Successive Government policies and legislation have assumed that care will be provided by relatives. This doctoral study proposes to critically examine what happens in instances where there are no biological relatives that can be relied upon to do the caring. Relatively little is known about a generation of sexual minorities who are approaching later life and are likely to have considerable caring needs. This generation lived their lives in an era where homosexuality was a highly stigmatised identity and pre-1970 a criminal offence. Sexual minorities who did not suppress their attraction to persons of same-sex and follow the normative heterosexual trajectory, risked estrangement and rejection from family-of-origin and in many cases, these disrupted kin relationships were never repaired. The seminal study by Finch and Mason (1993) illustrated that informal care is negotiated within the family and the carer comes to accrue responsibility for caring over time. What happens to older sexual minorities who are estranged from, or unable to rely upon kin relationships for care in their later life? During the 1980s and 1990s, it was well established that in the absence of biological kin, many sexual minorities turned to friends and ex-lovers to provide a supportive ‘family-like’ role (Weston 1997, Weeks et al. 2001). The doctoral thesis would seek to examine whether such informal family-like networks still exist, can informal networks of friends and ex-lovers be relied upon to deliver the practical care for elderly pseudo-relatives, and if so how do such arrangements arise? The thesis will also explore the material, social, cultural and gendered differences present in such caring communities. The findings generated from this study will make significant contributions to policy and legislation and also to ensure that the third sector charities like Age UK and others are providing services that meet the needs of a diverse ageing population.
Supervisor: Professor James Treadwell (email@example.com)
The Gendered experiences of Violence and Resistance in activist and anti-Neoliberal capitalist protest movements.
In February 2016, the Guardian newspaper ran a story with the headline ‘Police ‘used sexualised violence against fracking protesters’, reporting that campaigners at Barton Moss in Salford against fracking had claimed to researchers they were groped and threatened by Greater Manchester officers. This story is shocking, in so far as it is one of the few examples of how gender is considered in literature on political protest and public order. While there is an extensive academic literature on policing protest and public order, but in that literature, the voices and experiences of women are quite frequently neglected or absent. This PhD will seek to re-frame the experiences and involvement of women in contemporary political protest globally, understanding their experiences, particularly in relation to violence. From on the English riots of 2011, the Occupy movement in London and the English Defence League in northern England, to anti-capitalist protesters empirical research on protesters has tended to be focused on the experiences of Western men as researched by men, leaving the stories and motivations of activist women under theorised and considered. This omission seems all the more shocking considering recent revelations about how such protest groups have been infiltrated and monitored by the security state in England and wales. This not only means has scant attention been given to the experiences of women activists at the hands of outside state actors, but also internally. There has been relatively little critical engagement with women activists and their experiences particularly around violence, and this project will seek to fill that gap. It will involve not only documentary analysis, but also interviews with activist women involved globally in protest movements.
Supervisor: Professor James Treadwell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beaten up, banged up beaten down; Trauma, violence, domestic abuse and coping in the lives of incarcerated women
The proposers have been involved in extensive research into the genesis and factors underpinning prison and community violence. In 2018, the government is expected to launch a new domestic abuse bill and a strategy for tackling domestic abuse. However, the way that women’s experiences of violence, abuse, and trauma manifest in prison and post based experiences is subject to less contemporary discussion. Although women are less than 5% of those in prison, they account for over 25% of self-harm incidents. Women’s offending is commonly linked to underlying mental health needs, drug and alcohol problems, coercive relationships, financial difficulties and debt. Over half the women in prison report having suffered domestic violence and one in three has experienced sexual abuse. Many of them have dependent children – an estimated 17,240 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment every year. This research will seek to consider the relationship between pre-prison experiences and prison based behaviour, particularly through extensive qualitative research with female offenders in prison custody. Professor Treadwell has extensive links with HMPPS and is able to facilitate this type of work with contacts at governor grade working in women’s prisons.
Supervisor: Dr Jo Turner (email@example.com)
Helping women ‘through the gate’ in England: the continuities and change in third sector provision for women released from prison
As part of the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation agenda, the 2014 Offender Rehabilitation Act provides enhanced support for people leaving prison, helping them ‘through the gate’. Around a third of prisoners have nowhere to go on release and it is acknowledged that residential provision for ex-prisoners can bring significant benefits. For women, it is widely acknowledged that residential provision is especially important given the specific vulnerabilities with which women in the penal system present. During the 19th century, provision for women leaving prison was relatively abundant. However, there has been little academic consideration of the origins, continuities and changes of residential provision for women leaving prison including the ideologies and practices of the forerunners and their relationship with contemporary versions. This research will investigate the third sector provision for women leaving prison during the second half of the nineteenth century with the aim of informing policy and practice regarding third sector provision for such women today. Specifically, the research will provide the first historical analysis of the previously unknown and unexamined third sector residential provision for women released from convict prisons on conditional licence between 1860 and 1890. Using archived and digitised documents, it will examine why, how and with what effect the late nineteenth century system was created, operated, and eventually dismantled, and situate that system within the wider philanthropic provision of the period for women involved in criminal justice by providing the first comprehensive historical analysis of that wider system. By drawing attention to the role of the third sector in provision for women leaving prison in the past, this research will contribute to current policy debates around meeting the needs of women when leaving prison today.
Supervisor: Dr Jo Turner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mental Health and Substance Abuse: Supporting Dual Diagnosis Service Users
Service users with dual diagnosis are perceived as having less recovery capital than other service users within substance misuse and mental health services (Roberts & Bell, 2013). Dual diagnosis service users are stigmatised and a cohesive care package between substance misuse and mental health services is rarely achieved. This means that dual diagnosis service users tend to be seen by one service, rather than both, which reduces the likelihood of success. In Stoke-on-Trent, mental health services are less likely to assess and support service users with addictions. With mental health needs not being addressed effectively, the risk of vulnerability to crime (both as a victim and a perpetrator) increases, as does the likelihood of unnecessary incarceration. The stigma associated with mental health and interaction between service user and professional is a subject explored within the Sociology of Health (Barry & Yuill, 2012). The links between mental health and crime and punishment are widely discussed within Criminology (Winstone, 2015). Dual diagnosis, however, is a neglected area of research in both disciplines. This issue has also been highlighted by Community Safety Commissioners from Public Health within the Stoke-on-Trent Local Authority. Roberts & Bell (2013) highlight that service commissioning will require innovation and creativity to better meet the needs of dual diagnosis service users. Stoke-on-Trent service commissioners are keen to start this process with underpinning research to better inform commissioning practice. Findings from this doctoral research will contribute to service enhancement and development at a local level and will also provide valuable data to support positive change in other localities at a national level.
11. Forensic Science
Supervisor: Dr Laura Walton-Williams (email@example.com)
Understanding Victim Reporting Trends in Sexual Offences
Whilst statistics estimating the percentage of sexual offence cases not reported to the police are widely used in literature, there is currently little understanding of the accurate picture in relation to these types of offences. The aim of this research is to understand reporting trends in cases of rape and serious sexual offences. This research will entail working in collaboration with Staffordshire Police and Third Sector Organisations (those related to supporting victims of sexual offences) to gather data relating to reporting trends. Analysis of these trends will enable recognition of opportunities to improve police investigations, to increase reporting, to better support victims and to improve prosecution rates for sexual offence cases.
Supervisor: Dr John Wheeler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Evaluation and Development of Methodologies for the Measurement of Learning Gain in Undergraduate Science Degree Programmes
The measurement of ‘learning gain’ in U.K. Higher Education has gained momentum in recent years through the funding of 11 pilot projects to the value of £4m by HEFCE in 2015 (Staffs Uni is a partner in one of the pilot projects with Birmingham City, Liverpool John Moores and Coventry Universities) and the expectation that learning gain will be an explicit measure within the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in the near future. A number of methodologies have been proposed, developed and tested in recent years across U.K. HEIs for their suitability of the measurement of learning gain but, to date, no single approach has been identified as being appropriate, robust and reliable. Many issues have arisen during the testing, many of them due to the large scale upon which they have been attempted to be undertaken. This project aims to take a more focussed approach to the design and development of a methodology by focusing upon the measurement of learning gain for undergraduate science students. The project will evaluate currently available methodologies, identifying aspects of best practice that may be applied in our own work, develop a bespoke learning gain assessment specifically aimed at science undergraduate students, and undertake a pilot evaluation of this across a number of science curriculum areas at a number of UK HEIs.
13. Forensic Science
Supervisor: Dr Graham Williams (email@example.com)
Crime scene based screening and identification of intimate body fluids
The screening and identification of blood at crime scenes has been extensively and exhaustively researched with a range of strategies developed ranging from general LMG/KM testing through to ALS, Raman and Hyperspectral imaging. However, not as much work has been carried out on semen, despite the significant evidential of such body fluid. Limited work has been done, with the use of single use AP tests, combined with ALS techniques. However, not much more has been done. In addition, there is no strategy for the screening and identification of vaginal material at scenes or on items. Whilst tests have been established that can identify vaginal material, currently these are not suitable for crime scene use.
Thus the purpose of this project is to focus on enhancing BFID techniques targeting semen and vaginal material. This project may also look at strategies to screening and identifying epithelial cells or touch DNA (building on previous work done by Dr Williams)
14. Forensic Science
Supervisor: Dr Graham Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Developing a robust interpretational method for clothing damage analysis
Clothing Damage Analysis (CDA) is a forensic science specialism that examines damage to clothing in order to support and allegation or defence. CDA can be commonly utilised in two different broad offences – knife attacks and sexual assaults. Knife attacks can leave stab cuts or slash cuts to the garment worn at the time and such examination can be used to offer an opinion as to activities during the alleged incident. In sexual assaults, clothing can be forcefully removed resulting in rips and tears to the garments. However, clothes can also be subject to wear and tear. In some cases, it is not easy to differentiate between the two, thus requiring expert opinion. However, the field of CDA is rather subjective and is largely based upon individual’s experience with no consistency of interpretation. This project is to develop a Bayesian based interpretational model (already used widely in the forensic sciences) and then conduct a series of experiments that will establish the key Bayesian nodes required for decision making.
15. Forensic Science
Supervisor: Dr Kirsty Squires (Kirsty.email@example.com)
An investigation into the biological and chemical changes associated with decomposition of porcine remains encased in concrete
The disposal and concealment of human remains can take many forms, one of which is the use of concrete to encase or seal deceased individuals within structures (e.g. voids in walls). Despite the fact that this disposal method has been used globally for decades (e.g. Toms, Rogers, and Sathyavagiswaran, 2008), very little research has been carried out into the effects of concrete on the decomposition process (Gibelli et al., 2013; Martin et al., 2015). The exothermic reaction and calcium hydroxide produced by mixing cement is corrosive and known to damage human tissue that is encased in setting cement. However, the extent to which this damage occurs is currently unknown. The aim of this project is to investigate the biological and chemical changes to porcine remains that are interred in two distinct environments, namely the encasement of porcine remains in concrete and sealing porcine remains within concrete voids. Prior to carrying out these experiments, the porcine remains will also be subjected to various post mortem changes, including partial decomposition, burning, and the application of different types of acid, to establish how these processes affects the decomposition of remains in the aforementioned environments. Histology will be employed to explore microscopic changes to the soft and hard tissue whilst gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) will be used to explore the chemical changes to remains interred in cement. It is hoped that this research will fill a void in our current understanding of forensic taphonomy.
16. Forensic Science
Supervisor: Dr Sarah Fieldhouse (S.J.Fieldhouse@staffs.ac.uk)
The effects of DNA recovery on latent fingermarks and their use as forensic evidence
The recovery of DNA and fingermark evidence from the same location can be problematic due to contamination from fingermark visualisation techniques, and/or the destructive capability of the DNA recovery method. Forensic investigators are often required to choose which evidence type to recover, or to recover both types from different locations. Research typically documents the effects of fingermark visualisation techniques on the subsequent recovery of DNA, despite the contamination issues which limit their use in casework. There would be inevitable benefits in duel recovery to law enforcement agencies, given the ability of DNA and fingermarks to aid in the identification of individuals. Previous research carried out at the University and published in a leading forensic journal has demonstrated a simple yet effective means of facilitating duel recovery from the same location. The team hope to continue the research, and to develop the approach into one suitable for casework. Alternative research plans to refine the DNA recovery method. This PhD project would focus on the physical effects of DNA recovery on latent fingermark ridge structure using microscopic techniques including scanning electron microscopy. It will also study changes to the chemical composition of the marks using appropriate techniques such as GC-MS. The project would assess the impact of how changes to fingermark structure might impact upon their use as forensic evidence, using the opinions of fingerprint experts and AFIS metrics.