Reducing Race Hate and Extremism in Local Community

On the 7th December, Sarah Page and Professor James Treadwell presented their current and proposed research into race hate and extremism to BSBT partners in Stoke, the local authority, the Home Office and Baroness Williams (lead for counter extremism). The research is being co-produced with our undergraduate students from Sociology and Criminology.

Sarah Page presenting (left) and Professor James Treadwell (on the far right)

 James also talked about his research findings from his book ‘The Rise of The Far Right’. The session was led by Community Coordinator Adrian Walters, from the Local Authority, and was hosted at YMCA North Staffs

Sarah Page said “We were honoured to be a part of the city’s plans and to be involved in work that supports building more cohesion in communities and reducing racial hatred. It was fantastic to hear about the different BSBT projects in the city and the various organisations working together to improve the city.” Sarah also went on to say she is “really proud of [the students] for all their hard work”.  

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.

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

 

 

Erasmus+ Visit to Karlova University, Prague

At the beginning of May, Dr Em Temple-Malt – Post Graduate Course Leader in Sociology – travelled to Prague to teach at Karlova University, on an Erasmus exchange.

I had the great pleasure of returning to Karlova University (Charles University) in May 2018. Karlova University is one of our Erasmus exchange universities. I went out there to give guest lectures to undergraduate students and to deliver a talk as part of a Sociology Department Seminar Series.

The last time I was in Prague, February 2017, was to establish an exchange programme for our Sociology and Criminology students, and I stayed in the very touristy and beautiful Old Town square.

This time I stayed in the Herrmes hotel, Joninice, which was most excellent (thank you to the travel team for arranging me to stay at this hotel!). The hotel was situated two minutes from the tram stop – which transports you easily and quickly to many parts of the city. I was also five minutes from the Joninice campus, where I was teaching and close to the Sociology staff.

I found myself easily getting into a rhythm with the tram system, especially the B line. A 24kc ticket, stamped with a time code, allowed a 30-minute period of travel, which allowed me to get to and from my destinations. There was lots of construction work, meaning I became familiar with the dash, and crush in the lifts to the town.
In my short stay, I became a regular at the TGI Friday’s, in Andel. Having had a busy day of teaching and intellectually stimulating conversations, visiting different Czech restaurants and the buzz of Czech conversations, I found the restaurant and the same staff each night comforting; it was also really close to the hotel, which was excellent.

On the Wednesday, I got to teach students studying the module ‘Anthropology of Kinship’, the focus of this talk centered on my doctoral research – particularly, civil partners’ reasons for getting married and then breaking the news to significant others. Knowing the importance of interactive and memorable activities, I introduced students to the Channel 4 programme that focused on ostentatious weddings, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and a clip from the TV series, Don’t Tell the Bride, to illustrate the gendered work within British weddings. These clips stimulated conversations and comparisons about the practicalities and organisation of Czech weddings. There was lots of laughter and interesting conversations; centering on the brides’ evident disappointment with the dress her fiancé had selected for her, which she felt made her hips look ‘massive’ and was devastated that the dress had buttons running the full length of the dress.

Thursday was a busy day, the second lecture focused on the way the UK is currently responding to domestic abuse and how services for male perpetrators could be improved based on a recent research project. The module introduction to gender and sexuality, was taken by all female students. We had really interesting and thought-provoking conversations. One student posed me a really challenging question, when she asked why is it that men are always more dominant than women in society? I burbled, speechless, I suspect she is still waiting for an eloquent answer!

One student enjoyed my lecture so much that she gave this feedback about my session: “I wanted to thank you for presenting and speaking about domestic violence. Unfortunately, a lot of people know very little about this issue, which is why I admire your bravery for openly talking about your own experience as well. I know that it can be difficult, especially if you are speaking about such a still largely stigmatized topic.
Today, people are mostly introduced to a black and white type of image about domestic violence. They don’t know the Whys and Hows, nor its forms. I liked that you mentioned the psychological aspect of domestic violence and how it affects both, the victim and the abuser. Speaking of victims and abusers, you also stated that both, women and men, may belong to both categories and that abused men have a harder time seeking help, due to their so called ‘masculinity’ etc. I found it interesting that you took another approach by speaking about the perpetrator and his or her experience. It is very important for me to understand every aspect of a situation and your presentation helped me gain insight into the mind of the abusers.

It was a shame that we did not have more time, because the topic cannot be possibly presented in its full complexity in 80 minutes. I was personally interested in for example the influence of a violent past, the exercises that the abusers tried out etc. Also, I wanted to note that you should not worry about our activity. I believe that many of us had a lot to say, but students are often shy to speak out, especially if they are doubting their English skills”

Thursday afternoon, I had the great opportunity to deliver preliminary findings from my most recent pilot project, ‘displaying unhealthy relational practices education’ project. The seminar was attended by academics and Sociology doctoral students who followed us to the Mont Martre pub, for several pints of beer and to continue very interesting conversations.

Colleagues and friends can be forgiven for thinking that the entire four days was spent indulging in good food and tasty Czech beer, as these were mainly the subject of my Facebook posts!

I was struck by how warm and generous the Czech academics were with their time. My host, Ema Herzonva met me for coffee (recognised my preference for tea and accommodated this), took me for lunches at some of her favourite restaurants. I opted to spend more time with the academics – than doing touristy things. It was a privilege learning about Czech stories of women, gender inequality, communism and socialism’s approach to celebrating the ‘working man’.

Another highlight on this trip to Prague, was catching up with three of my L5 students (Josh Stanley, Jess Silva Freitas and Dana Wade) who had taken up the opportunity to study at Karlova university for a semester. They wowed me with their adventures, and explained how they were enjoying their studies, opportunities to study subjects not available at Staffordshire University (e.g. Jazz, Digital Sociology), and little stories about some of their favourite lecturers. We finished our evening with a trip to my favourite haunt, TGI Fridays, in Andel.

   

CLA+ Sessions and Learning Gain

As part of a national project funded by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) there is an opportunity to take part in sessions completing an online test which will help you to discover your skill level and could assist you in identifying areas for development. The feedback can then be used to create a personalised development plan you can follow to help you work on any areas that you feel would be beneficial to you in the future.

In return for completing the test you will receive £40*

The Collegiate Learning Assessment is a standardised online test that is used to assess certain skills that you may possess. No subject specific knowledge is required or tested and it will not impact upon your degree marks (apart from giving you the opportunity to improve following reflection of the feedback you receive). The test will provide an objective assessment about the critical skills you have at the current time. The test is open to any undergraduate student studying any subject at any level.

The test takes 90 minutes to complete and results are returned in four to six weeks. Once you have your results you can meet with your personal tutor or an Academic Skills Tutor to identify your strengths and areas for development, and draw up your own personalised plan for development.

Once you have completed the test there is an opportunity to complete a 30 minute survey on learning engagement.
(*The £40 has to be claimed through Unitemps – Unitemps will complete an ID check and accepted forms of ID will be required . This check will have to be completed before payment. More details on how to do this will be provided in the sessions)

The sessions available are as follows

There is no need to book, just turn up to the session that is best for you.
Please arrive promptly as sessions are timed and allow 2 HOURS for the session

If you would like anymore information contact Stacey.Stanyer@staffs.ac.uk

Partial Scholarships PhD Scheme

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 graham.williams@staffs.ac.uk

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.

1. Law
Supervisor: Dr Sean Curley (sean.curley@staffs.ac.uk)

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 (c.gwinnett@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

3. Policing

Supervisor: Dr Lauren Metcalfe (lauren.metcalfe@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

4. Policing

Supervisor: Dr Lauren Metcalfe (lauren.metcalfe@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

5. Sociology/Criminology

Supervisor: Dr Emma Temple-Malt (emma.temple-malt@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

6. Sociology/Criminology

Supervisor: Dr Em Temple-Malt (emma.temple-malt@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

7. Sociology/Criminology

Supervisor: Professor James Treadwell (james.treadwell@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

8. Sociology/Criminology

Supervisor: Professor James Treadwell (james.treadwell@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

9. Sociology/Criminology

Supervisor: Dr Jo Turner (jo.turner@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

10. Sociology/Criminology

Supervisor: Dr Jo Turner (jo.turner@staffs.ac.uk)

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 (l.m.walton@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

12. Education

Supervisor: Dr John Wheeler (j.w.wheeler@staffs.ac.uk)

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 (graham.williams@staffs.ac.uk)

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 (graham.williams@staffs.ac.uk)

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.squires@staffs.ac.uk)

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.

Kathleen’s Prize Award Ceremony

Academics were asked to nominate the best work, from their level 4 students, for the annual Kathleen’s Awards Ceremony in March. Many paid tribute at the ceremony to Staffordshire University Librarian, Kathleen Morgan, who sadly passed away in September 2014. 

Winner, Matthew Harvey – from the School of Health and Social Care – was awarded his certificate and £50 Amazon voucher from Dr Sean Curley – Dean of the School of Law, Policing and Forensics – who said:

“The standard of entries this year has been fantastic and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be here. The competition has been fierce and you are all winners… You should all congratulate yourselves.”

Kathleen’s mother attends every year and remembers the impact Kathleen had on the students. Alison Pope, Learning and Information Services Manager, said:

“In the course of several roles Kathleen filled, her passion to help students realise their potential shone out.She instigated the InfoZone programme which helps orientate first year students and assists them in making the transition from school or college to University level research.”Among the runners up was BA (Hons) Sociology, Criminology and Deviance student, Adam William Colclough and BSc (Hons) Policing and Criminal Investigation, student Georgina Buckley.
  • Jake Rodgers (CAE) nominated by Tony CRAIG
  • Rachel Day (CAE) nominated by Simon SMITH
  • Dylan Foster (BLE) nominated by Aisha ABUELMAATTI
  • Grace Thomson (BLE) nominated by Aisha Abulemaatti
  • Mollie Barker (BLE) nominated by Aisha Abulemaatti
  • Ciaran Pearson-More (LSE) nominated by Philip WALKER
  • Georgina Buckley (LPF) nominated by Rachel BOLTON-KING
  • Constantinos Pavlakos (LPF) nominated by Rhiannon FROST
  • Lindsay Franklin (HSC) nominated by Maqsoodah ASHRAF
  • Richenda Treharne (HSC) nominated by Lisa Beeston
  • Katie Roughan (HSC) nominated by Lisa Beeston
  • Adam Colclough (LPF) nominated by Emma TEMPLE-MALT
  • Rahee Ali (LSE) nominated by Paul ORSMOND
  • Kalina Kolchevska (CDT) nominated by Alke GROPPEL-WEGENER

Congratulations to all of our students for all your hard work!

 

 

 

Researching Intimacy and Sexuality – a Guest Lecture by Jacqui Gabb

On 22nd March, Sociologist Professor Jacqui Gabb, from the Open University, delivered a guest lecture to our level 5 Sociology and Criminology students about qualitative research methods and researching sexualities and intimacy.

Dr Em Temple-Malt, Post Graduate Course Leader in Sociology and Criminology organised the lecture for the students:

During the lecture [Jacqui] captivated us with insightful stories drawn from three of her research studies: ‘Perverting Motherhood?’, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and ‘Enduring Love?

Lessons were learned about thinking carefully through our recruitment practices. The way we write ourselves and who we are looking for into our research project advertisements might unintentionally exclude and silence certain people from coming forward to tell their family stories, because they don’t feel they quite fit what we are looking for in a research participant.

I am a massive fan of creative research methods and using elicitation tools and techniques in my own qualitative research projects. Thus, I personally loved hearing the motivations behind weaving different methodological techniques together in order to bring about multi-sensory and more holistic stories which might not otherwise emerge if only one research method technique was used.

I concurred with Jacqui’s conclusion that as researchers, we need to be braver and push ourselves to use the data that emerges when we embed elicitation techniques into conventional interview methods.

“It was great to meet another researcher and get an insight into adaptations of research methods we have already been taught. it emphasised that research is not a one size fits all type of thing, and that sometimes you need to adapt methods and yourself to achieve greater results” – Nat Campbell, BA (Hons) Sociology.

For many of us, and I am guilty of this too, the well-trodden path of analysing certain forms of data is all too easy to replicate. We insert materials into our interviews to encourage a participant to tell more detailed, richer stories (e.g. time line, weekly-diary, task-grid, photos, concentric circles, collage or sketch etc) and then only analyse the narrative told within the interview transcript, for example, rather than analysing the work that the participant does with this additional elicitation material. This point has certainly inspired me to be braver in future work I do with elicitation techniques.

“Personal is Political”

She also reminded us about the capacity of our research to be political and to make a difference. The personal is indeed political and where possible, it is crucial to take up those opportunities to tell decision makers and stake holders about the lives of those who we are researching.

A memorable quote: “What does it cost to keep a relationship together? The cost of a cup of tea”

While the lecture was brilliant, I would imagine that the biggest highlight for the student audience was the workshop activities. Jacqui provided small examples of data from the Enduring Love study and, in small groups, the audience were invited to drill down and analyse key aspects of the data. Engaging in such tasks meant students were left with an appreciation of the extraordinary efforts and ‘relationship work’ that some research participants were undertaking, in order to make quite difficult, intimate relationships work.

“What does it cost to keep a relationship together? The cost of a cup of tea”

The final part of the workshop invited students to have a go at making their own emotion maps with colourful emoticon stickers.

“Having Jacqui speak to us not only gave us the opportunity to ask any questions about her research, but also gave me more ideas on how to use multiple data collection techniques in my own research.” – Jack Whalley, BA (Hons) Sociology, Criminology and Deviance

They then had the opportunity to feedback to Jacqui how they might use this particular approach within their own dissertation research projects.

Using emotion maps in research

I have followed Jacqui’s research with a keen and passionate interest since I started my academic studies in 2006. One of the reasons her work is so compelling and satisfying is the equal amount of attention she gives to the research methods used to elicit the ‘messy’ stories of relational, emotional practices of queer families and relationships.

Her approach to qualitative research methods is inspirational – and I’ve attempted to instill this passion for research methods into my teaching of my undergraduate students. I won’t lie, this is one of the proudest moments in my career to date. I am immensely proud of my undergraduate students and the research projects that they are pursuing, and I got to introduce my fabulous level 5 students to Professor Jacqui Gabb!

 

Thinking like a Sociologist and Criminologist at the National Justice Muesum

Professor James Treadwell and Dr Jo Turner took Level 4 Sociology and Criminology students to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham, in February.

Jo Turner said “the venue was excellent and the whole day was so well organised. In the morning, the students had a tour of the museum/old prison, with a focus on capital punishment, and in the afternoon the students enacted a Freedom of Religion court case in the court room there.”

One student said

“the pics are amazing and remind me of a great day we all had. [It was] a real, valuable experience. It also got me excited about university and my degree… It was nice to be out of the surroundings of a “class room” and see first hand how the criminal system would run. It also (I feel) makes you connect more and appreciate how much we have developed our criminal justice system to how we used to treat people. Definitely made me appreciate and [be] proud of how the individuals were brave enough to be a voice and to make a change for humanity.”

Another student said:

“I enjoyed the trip to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham. It was fascinating and very informative. I particularly enjoyed being able to go inside the old cells and women’s facilities from long ago. Also, seeing the gallows and the old trap doors used for capital punishment was very interesting, albeit somewhat morbid!

“It really got me thinking about my stance on capital punishment, and it has certainly confirmed my opposition to it. Our group (appellants) thoroughly enjoyed the mock court case and were pleased to have won it on the grounds of Human Rights  The trip was very well organised and everything ran smoothly. The whole day was most useful for our upcoming assignments and it was some real food for thought for us future Criminologists/Sociologists!”

 

Connecting and Learning with Local Organisations

Staffordshire University works in partnership with Expert Citizens C.I.C. and VOICES; a local Big Lottery funded project in the national Fulfilling Lives: supporting people with multiple needs programme. Customers of VOICES experience a combination of homelessness, mental ill-health, substance misuse and offending. Their lives have been seriously affected by events and conditions over a prolonged period and, as a result, may present frequently at emergency health care facilities, drug and alcohol services, homelessness or mental health services.

Recently, Anna Mather (VOICES) and Lee Dale (Expert Citizens C.I.C.) joined our Sociology and Criminology undergraduate students to talk through the Solution Focused and Asset Based Approach that they use with customers. Students had the opportunity to learn from customers about their experiences of substance misuse and they found out about services at VOICES and in Stoke-on-Trent that have helped them to significantly change their life.

VOICES and expert Citizens C.I.C. use customer stories to help to improve services across the City and to educate people in the issues faced by customers experiencing multiple needs.

The group of Sociology and Criminology students – from within the School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University – who attended the session with VOICES, are on an option module (“working with drug users”) learning how to work with people who experience substance misuse within the criminal justice system and community. This module offers theoretical knowledge alongside skills development in delivering drugs education and therapeutic interventions. Learning from best practice from local service providers assists our students in being work ready.

VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C. also have a work ethos that staff and volunteers have lived experience of the needs that customers face as well as training their customers as Expert Citizen Educators that deliver training. This means that students get to learn from people who have personal experience of overcoming issues, as well as working with others to address their problems. Students enjoyed being able to ask questions and learn from the experiences that Anna and Lee have had in working with substance misuse. People’s stories are powerful educational tools. To hear stories from VOICES click here.

Scarlett, one of the second-year students, stated “I found the session really interesting and beneficial. Hearing Lee’s story was inspiring and makes you realise the importance of support work for substance abusers.”

Lauren, a third-year student, commented that “having VOICES in class today was super intriguing and stimulating. Listening to Lee’s story was inspiring and practical that presented the enormous lengths people can come with the correct support being given”.

Sarah Page, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology at Staffordshire University, commented “it is great having external organisations come onto campus and share with students about their work and experience. It inspires students and helps them to envisage future career paths, as well as helping them to think about work placement and dissertation research opportunities. The asset-based approach to working with substance misuse is a positive way to engage people in making significant life changes. VOICES have used this approach successfully with their customers and hearing a real-life success story gave students a better appreciation for what can be achieved. VOICES and Expert Citizens C.I.C. provided a brilliant lecture today and we look forward to continuing to do work with them. ”