The application of tape lifting for microplastic pollution monitoring

Professor Claire Gwinnett (lecturer in Forensics and Director for the Centre for Crime Justice and Security), Amy Osborne (PhD Researcher) and Andrew Jackson (Emeritus Professor) have had paper published, called ‘The application of tape lifting for microplastic pollution monitoring.

Claire said it ‘is a study where we have tested the use of a tape created and patented at Staffordshire University for forensic crime scene work for the us of microplastic recovery’.


You can read ‘The application of tape lifting for microplastic pollution monitoring’ on Science Direct, here

First year Offender Management Student Visits Stoke Youth Offending Services for Research

Shabana Butt is a first year Criminal Justice with Offender Management student at Staffordshire University and is interested in working with young offenders when she graduates. In order to prepare for her second year research project, Shabana visited the Stoke-on-Trent Youth Offending Services and she shares how informative the visit was. 

My name is Shabana, and I have just completed my first year on the BA (Hons) Criminal Justice with Offender Management course. To prepare for my second year I decided to make an early start on my research project, which I need to do in semester one in September. I had to choose a topic connected to criminal justice and undertake some research to write the research project. I am interested in working with young offenders, so I went to visit Liberty House, Marsden St, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, which is the Youth Offending Services local office. Fortunately, I was offered a warm welcome and promised a meeting with Rob Morray who is one of the managers of the Stoke on Trent Service.

I was a bit nervous, so I asked my academic mentor, Louis Martin, to come along with me for some support and to take notes for me during the meeting.  I met with Rob and he explained how youth services are delivered in Stoke on Trent. Rob told me the history of how the youth service developed in Stoke and some of the interventions provided for young people who had been referred by the police, social services, and the Court. The team even visited young people in YOI (Young Offender Institution) Werrington. Rob explained how important it was that young people are diverted away from criminal behaviour and substance misuse. He was very experienced and saw the benefits of children being treated like children and not stereotyped as deviant or simply criminals. The team works with young people and takes them out on outdoor activities such as mountain climbing and potholing. Rob emphasised the importance of sports and healthy activities to distract the young people from gangs and getting involved in dealing controlled substances and county lines.

I spoke to Dianne and Keith who were members of the Youth Offending Team and were currently working as court officers. Their main roles included:  helping young people at the police station if they were arrested, writing reports, and supporting young people and their families at court, supervising young people serving a community sentence and visiting young people if they are sentenced to custody.

Dianne and Keith talked about their experiences working in YOIs and going to Court for the Youth Offending Service. The team were very experienced and explained the process where their aim was to keep children out of the criminal justice system. The team at Stoke are very caring and passionate about their job and the service they provide. I would like to use the knowledge provided by my course at Staffordshire University to work with children and young people in Stoke on Trent after I graduate. I am really pleased that I had the courage to walk into Liberty House and ask for some information. I think many students will be surprised how helpful professionals who work in the criminal justice sector can be in sharing information about their roles and what they do. For readers who are interested in this area of criminal justice here are some links I have been using to find out more information about Youth Justice:



The UK Parliament on the International Day of Parliamentarism

The 30th June is the International Day of Parlimentarism. Established by the United Nations and celebrated on this day every year, the day ‘is a time to review the progress that parliaments have made in achieving some key goals to be more representative and move with the times, including carrying out self-assessments, working to include more women and young MPs, and adapting to new technologies (’ In relation to this, Dr John McGarry, Senior Law Lecturer, discusses the UK Parliament.

On International Day of Parliamentarism it is appropriate to recognise the central and preeminent role that the UK Parliament plays in the legal and political landscape of the country. Parliament comprises three bodies: the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarch. It is sometimes, more formally known as the Queen in Parliament. The House of Commons is made up of 650 directly elected MPs. The House of Lords consists of 700-800 peers which include appointed Life Peers, up to 92 hereditary peers and up to 26 Bishops of the Church of England.

Parliament has a number of roles. First and foremost, it is the UK’s primary legislature which means that it legislates, it creates law. Its powers here are unusual (though not unique) in that it is sovereign which means, in this context, that it may make any law whatsoever. That is, there are no restraints on the legislative power of Parliament. If an Act of Parliament is enacted in the correct way then, regardless of how improper, immoral or unconstitutional it is considered to be, the courts cannot overrule it or strike it out. As I say, this is unusual. In many countries, the law-making competence of the legislature is constrained by the constitution. For instance, in the US, an Act of Congress (roughly the equivalent of an Act of Parliament) may be struck down by the courts if it breaches the Constitution.

Another important role of Parliament is holding the Government to account – obliging the Government to explain and defend its actions and respond appropriately to any criticisms. It is worth emphasising here that Parliament and the Government are two distinct bodies exercising distinct functions. This fact is sometimes lost because it is a rule of the UK constitution that all Ministers – the main political actors of Government – must be a member of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Moreover, the Prime Minister must be a member of the House of Commons (rather than the House of Lords) and is the person who commands – and must maintain – the majority of support in the House of Commons.

This requirement – that the Government is formed from Parliament and must maintain the confidence (the majority of support) of the Commons – is why the UK system of government is parliamentary in nature. It may be contrasted with a presidential system where the head of government is directly elected by voters.

The importance of Parliament’s role in holding the Government to account is demonstrated by it being one of the bases of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2019 that the Government’s attempt to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful. The Court held that parliamentary accountability – Parliament holding the Government to account –is a fundamental constitutional principle and that this principle would be frustrated by such a lengthy prorogation. So, unless there was a reasonable justification for the five week prorogation, it was unlawful.

The accountability of Government to Parliament occurs in many ways. Undoubtedly, the most well known is Prime Minister’s Question time when the Prime Minister answers questions from MPs about the Government’s actions and decisions. This accountability is facilitated by a number of non-legal rules governing how members of the Government ought to behave. One of the most important is that Ministers must be honest with Parliament. The Ministerial Code – which sets basic standards of ministerial behaviour – states: ‘It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity’. Without this obligation of honesty, Parliament would be seriously hampered in its ability to hold the Government to account.

This, though, raises questions which I will state but not answer. As I have indicated, many of the most important obligations under the UK constitution are non-legal in nature. As such, they rely on those in power knowing, and adhering to, the rules of the game. This is sometimes known as the ‘Good Chaps’ theory of Government – that those in power will act like good chaps (or chapesses) and comply with the non-legal rules. Yet, what happens when those in power no longer feel obliged to comply with these rules? Can Parliament exercise its function of holding the Government to account if the Government no longer feels obliged to, for instance, give accurate and truthful information to Parliament? As I say, this is not a question which I will attempt to answer here. It is, however, an important question and it is one that my colleague Donna Graham, Staffordshire University lecturer, is currently looking at as part of her PhD.


GradEx is the annual graduate exhibition showcasing all of the fantastic work of our final year students to industry experts. This usually takes place on campus, but has taken place online the past two years, due to the pandemic. 

You can view all GradEx entries here, but below are the entries for subjects across the School of Law, Policing and Forensics.

Forensic Investigation and Forensic Science

An evaluation and comparison of LED torches for the use in scene examination

Kathryn Davis’ research evaluated ‘the PIT-LED torch using questionnaires completed by Forensic Investigators at Staffordshire Police and [compared them] with alternative torches focusing on the illumination of fingermarks on various reflective surfaces’.

Assessing the Policies and Processes for Sexual Offences at HEIs

Elliot Parkin’s project assessed ‘the policies and processes for sexual offences at HEIs; recommendations were made to improve these from staff and student responses to questionnaires, interviews and focus groups’.

Can we tell if wildlife have been shot with air weapons or .22 long rifles?

Eva Booth ‘worked with the Zoological Society of London researching methods to determine if birds had been shot with a 22 long rifle or air rifle by examining feathers’ and using a ‘Scanning Electron Microscope with energy dispersive X-ray analysis combined with image analysis to examine areas of damage, and quantity and distribution of areas of heavy elements.’


Do 3D-printed firearms pose a threat to the UK and Globally?

Ben Gordon researched ‘revolving 3-Dimensional printed firearms and the threats that may come with them.’ Ben said ‘It is important to conduct this research to bring attention to 3-D printed firearms and how they may be a breach of security. The current knowledge most people have on these 3D guns are either minimal or none, which allows this research to teach people of these uncommon hazards.’

Establishing Pro Forma for the Identification of Migrating Syrian Refugees

Jourdaine Das-Gupta’s ‘research involved creating a specified DVI pro forma for the identification of Syrian refugees, in light of the 6.5 million displaced persons since the Syrian Civil War in 2011. A number of specifying details were identified, and further research ideas were explored.’

Q-TOF LCMS Identification of Decomposition Chemicals in Aquatic Environment

Natalia Ciesielska’s ‘experiment successfully demonstrated that Q-TOF LCMS used for untargeted analysis to identify chemicals of interest released by mouse decomposition in aqueous environments is a powerful detection technique. The untargeted searchers identified complex chemical mixtures, containing 31 chemicals of interest in samples of the mice cadavers submerged in water.’

Reporting of Sexual offences in the Asian Community.

Aiyra Zahid’s project ‘looked at the reasons for under reporting of sexual offences in the Asian community and the stigma surrounding this topic . It utilised the knowledge of those in the community to create strategies of ways in which reporting rates can be increased in the community.’

The effect of menorrhea on persistence of semen in sexual offence victims

For their research, Wiktoria Flos used a ‘gynaecological model to simulate a female victim. Neat semen and mix bodily fluids of neat semen and menorrhea were deposited inside the model and left for 2 and 20 hours.  . The results revealed a statistical difference between the persistence of spermatozoa in neat semen and mix bodily fluids whereas, there was no statistical difference between the two-time frames used within this research.’

The perceptions of the current use of trace evidence, UK.

Lucy Watson’s project is ‘based around gathering the current perceptions (and opinions) of the use of trace evidence, from current practitioners and students, within the UK. This was done with the use of a survey, constructed in Qualtrics, and disseminated through LinkedIn, Twitter, and our own schools Blackboard.’




History and International Studies

How the Trauma of the Irish Famine led to support for the Revolutionary IRB

Helen Lee’s research ‘establish[ed] that the Irish Famine of 1845-52 led to social disruption and emotional trauma on a collective scale, [nurturing] significant working-class support for the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood and their fight for Irish independence’. 

Partners or Property – War interpreters and International Organisations

Aida Haughton said, ‘as a former UN war interpreter in Bosnia, I wanted to explore if what I have been through is anything like the experiences of my colleagues and this paper reveals some shocking details. Invisibility, sexual harassment, and traumatic experiences are some of the topics covered.’

The Genocide of the Kurds, the Halabja Massacre and the Anfal Operations

Nayaz Mohammed’s project looked at the suffering and genocide of the Kurs from 1987-1988: ‘It is well established that the Anfal & Halabja massacre was a series of military operations which were authorized by Saddam Hussein from 1987-1988 during the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq War.The goal of these operations was to fully exterminate the Kurds.’





A Critical Analysis of the Crime of Genocide within International Law

Harry Gabell’s project was ‘an analysis of the main legal issues which are faced when considering the crime of genocide, and with international entities such as States or tribunals which are seeking to prevent and prosecute genocidal crimes, using scholarly articles, the Genocide Convention and ICTY and ICTR jurisprudence.’

Fairness in Family court should not require equal rights

Salma Hussein’s project aimed to highlight flaws in family court decisions where ‘parental equality rights are given to all fathers regardless of past parenting involvement [and are] designed to perpetuate the traditional concept of a family unit, despite the far-reaching problems caused to separated families.’



Why Children Between the Ages of 13-18 Go Missing from Home


Isobel Dove’s project analysed ‘why children between the ages of 13-18 may go missing from home and identified child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation as possible reasons.’




Sociology, Crime and Terrorism

Can bold and self-assured women succeed in Pakistan?

Nafeesa Mirza’s project aim was to ‘present to a wider audience the struggles that women in Pakistan continue to face, [by] analysing the patriarchal society and the Islamic interpretations of how women should be treated [and] exploring case studies of significant individuals’. 


Content Analysis of Gender Stereotypes and Gender Roles in LGBTQ+ Films

‘By utilising a qualitative content analysis [Ellie-May Newton] investigated LGBTQ+ films for their use of  gender stereotypes and analyse[d] how those stereotypes can impact the image of the LGBTQ+ community.’




Eurasia’s pivot towards Cyber Attacks, Psy-Ops and Electronic warfare


Christian Etheridge’s research paper focused themes of Eurasian unconventional warfare, exploring examples f Cyber Attacks on Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), Information warfare (Psy-Ops) and Electromagnetic Spectrum manipulation within the context of conflict. 




Mentoring Adults in the Criminal Justice System – What are the Benefits?

Katie Price’s project highlights the benefits of mentoring adults who have experienced the criminal system. Katie concludes that ‘mentors aid with the rehabilitation process by supporting ex-offenders to integrate back in to the community following a custodial sentence.’

Law School Newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest from Staffordshire University’s Law School Newsletter (academic year 2020-2021).

Law Newsletter – December 2020

The first newsletter of the academic year was introduced by Paul Allen, Head of Law, and contained information on student well-being over the Christmas break.





Law Newsletter – March 2021

The spring newsletter included an interview with the Dean, Dr Helen Poole, and exciting news about students from APIIT Law School (one of our partners) becoming the first Sr Lankan team to compete in the ICC Paris Commercial Mediation Competition.




Law Newsletter – June 2021

The final newsletter of the academic year shares exciting news from a few of our students, as well as advice and information for getting work experience





Public Service Day 2021: Innovations in access to policing careers

On Wednesday 23 June we’ll be celebrating Public Service Day. The UN launched this international day in 2003 to celebrate the contributions those in the public sector and civil service make to our society. The theme for this year is ‘Innovating for a new era: Leveraging the role of technology for the future public service’.

Our University has delivered many innovations during the past two years of our regional police partnership and in April we launched Step Up to Policing. Our 10-week long level 3 course develops students’ academic skills and prepares them for their next steps towards a policing career. What’s more, it’s delivered completely online to provide accessibility to aspiring police officers across the region.

Step Up to Policing Course Leader, Phil Wagg, is a Recruitment Development Officer and has worked at Staffordshire University’s Institute of Policing for two years. He has recently achieved a Masters’ Degree in International Relations and is passionate about helping people to achieve their goals. In his spare time, he plays guitar and manages a junior football team. 

We sat down with Phil to find out how the first cohort got on. 

Hi Phil, how’re things going?

Yeah, good thanks. The Institute of Policing’s Recruitment Development Officers are all really busy, but the sun is shining, and the world seems to be getting back to some kind of normality. No complaints here. 

Can you tell us a bit about your role as a Recruitment Development Officer?

Our team engages with potential candidates from their initial enquiry, right up to enrolling them and carrying out their ID checks on their first day at university. We attend recruitment events to deliver talks about the PEQF and answer any questions, we check qualifications and provide advice to ensure candidates are eligible for funding. We work closely with our partners to plan and allocate places, complete eligibility checks and get the successful candidates enrolled with the university on time. We’re here to support our partner forces as they recruit onto the PEQF pathways into policing.

PEQF? Can you tell us what that is?

Absolutely, in 2018 the College of Policing launched the Policing Education Qualifications Framework which set out three entry routes into policing for new recruits. All new officers now need to be qualified to degree level, and the three pathways help them to get there. These include the Pre-Join Degree, Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), and Degree-Holder Entry Programme (DHEP). All of these routes require previous Level 3 qualifications such as A-Levels or BTECs, and we receive a large number of enquiries initially from candidates who would make great police officers but did not have sufficient qualifications to apply to any of the routes. This is why we designed the Step Up to Policing access course to meet the needs of these candidates and our regional police force partners.

So, you’ve just finished delivering to the first group of Step Up to Policing students.

Mmhmm, yep. The last 10 weeks have flown by!

How did it all go?

The course has gone surprisingly smoothly considering it was brand new. There were one or two minor technical difficulties which were to be expected from an online course, but all the students have been really enthusiastic and have engaged with the learning materials. 13 out of 14 passed their first assignment, and they will be handing in their second and final assignment on Monday 21 June which hopefully they will all pass. I am hoping for a 100% pass rate, so we will see what happens.

We’ve had a wide variety of individuals on the course. Some have had no formal education since leaving school, while others had achieved their A-Levels but wanted to build their confidence before embarking on Higher Education studies. Some of them are already working for the police in staff roles or as Special Constables, while others had no policing experience and were yet to apply.  

So it went better than expected?

I mean you always have high hopes for students on courses like this. They’re so driven and determined to do whatever it takes to get into their chosen careers. This was certainly no exception, and I was really impressed with all of the students. They took to some of the more complex concepts really well. It’s been nice to see that they can all achieve at this level with the right support and hopefully they will go on to succeed in HE.

What made you want to develop this course?

We wanted to give people a chance of achieving their career goals by removing barriers for them. For various reasons, individuals may not have progressed with education earlier in life, but that does not mean that they should be prevented from accessing HE as long as they have the willingness and motivation to do so, and have the right support to enable them to succeed. Unlike other access courses that are available, we wanted to make this course as accessible and as flexible as possible so that students could fit the learning around their work and family commitments. The entry fee is £300 which is way more affordable than any other access courses offered by other providers. We wanted to make the course policing-specific, rather than a generic HE access course, to help students be successful with their police applications. We also made it as short as possible to fit in with the fast recruitment timetable of our partner forces.

Who was involved in programme development?

I have been largely responsible for collating the learning materials, designing the structure of the course, the assignments and delivery, but I have had lots of help from a number of the Lecturers and Senior Lecturers who currently deliver on our other PEQF courses, my line manager, admin and IT support, and the programme manager of our existing Step Up to HE course.

What does the course involve/ what do students have to do?

Well, it’s a 10-week programme, with live lectures being delivered online every Tuesday. If students can’t make the live lectures, there are learning materials already available for them to access and complete in their own time. They have to complete two assignments, including a 15-minute Powerpoint presentation and a 1,000-word essay. This was quite a daunting prospect for some of the students at the start of the course, but we have specific sessions on how to tackle the assignments, and they all gave the first assignment a really good go. The course is built around supporting them to complete these assignments, and realising that as long as they plan properly and put the work in, they can achieve highly.

Oh, so people don’t need to travel to campus to take part.

No, its all online. We give them access to the Staffs Uni learning portal, Blackboard where they can access all the learning materials at any time, and we also give them an Office 365 account, which gives them access to all the tools they need to complete the assignments. It is entirely possible for a student to complete the course without interacting with the tutors at all. Although we highly recommend that the students attend the lectures and engage with tutors as this is a vital part of university study, and will enable them to get the most out of the course and a better chance of achieving high grades.

Is it true that you had people referred from the police for this course?

Absolutely, some of our partner forces had applicants who needed those level 3s to be eligible for the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship pathway into policing. We worked with our partner forces to identify candidates and we encouraged them to apply for the course. Our partner forces have a limited number of free spaces for each intake, but individuals can sign up via our website with a £300 entry fee.

What backgrounds have the students typically come from?

Honestly there is no typical. In this group we had some who were unemployed, a bartender, a prison officer, and some Special Constables.

That is a real mix. Now this is something I’m sure we all want to know. How did your students do?

Aha yes, of course. All I can say is that everyone will be handing in their final assignments today and then we can get on with marking. I’ll let you know when the grades have gone out to the students.

We look forward to hearing about how they’ve done! What does the future look like for Step Up to Policing?

We have three courses ready to run in August, November and March. We’re open for applications now. It’s my hope that in the future the course will grow to allow more opportunities for individuals who want to gain a level 3 qualification and progress on to Higher Education.

What does life after Step Up to Policing look like for your students?

They can pursue a number of different pathways into policing. They could apply for any of our Undergraduate policing courses at Staffs, and then progress onto the DHEP or Pre-Join entry routes on completion, or they could apply directly to the forces for entry onto the PCDA route. Whichever route they choose, I’m excited to hear about their journey and the impacts they go on to have in their communities.

What will you be doing between now and the next intake in August?

Taking a nice long summer holiday! Haha, no. I’ll be marking and providing feedback to my students. Then it’ll be time to prepare the next course for the August intake and review applications. A big priority for me will to also check the student feedback survey to refine the course and make it even better for future cohorts.

You can find out more about Step Up to Policing here.

Are you considering taking SULAC as a module during your final year?

Are you a student at Staffordshire University and considering taking SULAC (Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic) as a module during your final year? Emma, a final year Law student shares how choosing the SULAC module has helped develop her confidence and enhance her skills.

I have just completed my final year on the LLB Law at Staffordshire University. During my final year, I undertook SULAC as a module. At the [start] I was very quiet and shy.  

If you are considering a career in practice, whether that be a solicitor or barrister, I would highly recommend SULAC as a module.  

As you already know, in practice you need to communicate with clients, other solicitors, colleagues, judges, barristers and – depending on your field of preference – the jury. You also need to carry out research and draft legal letters. 

During your time in the clinic, you are required to: 

  • Hold interviews with clients,
  • Interact and engage with other students, Tracey, clients and other solicitors and partner organisations. I had an amazing opportunity to work with Woman’s Aid and Lewis Rogers Solicitors.
  • Type up a three day letter and letter of advice
  • Research the area of law relevant to the matter. 

As you can see, you gain and expand upon the skills you need to work in the legal sector, all of which can be mentioned on your CV to make you stand out.  

As previously mentioned, when I first started SULAC I was shy, I hated public speaking and I had no self-[appreciation].  Five or six weeks of clinic [changed that]. Once I put my suit on I felt on top of the world; I spoke publicly, I carried out conflict of interest searches and research tasks confidently and, within a short period of time, I was speaking out in classes. I didn’t fear expressing my opinion or engaging in debates.  

I have an awful lot to thank the clinic and Tracey for. Tracey is so supportive and amazing to work with. It is scary to think that, if I hadn’t participated in clinic, I would have walked out with a degree but no confidence. The clinic will help you in your studies [as well]! I took Family Law as an option module, which is one of the areas of law that clinic helps with. There were times where I had a case for clinic regarding a family law matter and soon afterwards I had a lecture that matched my client’s request.  

As well as working with Lewis Rogers and Woman’s Aid, SULAC gave me [an experience] that I will never forget: the awards evening with the chair of Law Works and the Attorney-General.   

[In] your final year, what you do really does matter, so just remember: 

  • Stay calm
  • Deep breaths
  • The public are turning to you for help, advice and support. People are already looking up to you
  • What you do counts, you are helping the public gain access to legal advice and justice. 
  • Be yourself.
  • Congratulate yourself!
  • Reflect on yourself – I frequently compare how I was in the first year to final year. You will see a huge difference and, believe me, that never goes unnoticed by staff.  
  • Do what feels right for you. 

Finally, I just wanted to say to enjoy your final year: relax (but study) and do what is right for you and your future. A huge well done from me for making it this far.  

Good luck to Emma who is returning in September to complete the LLM in Legal Practice.



The Inconvenient Truth About Mobile Phone Distraction: Understanding the Means, Motive and Opportunity for Driver Resistance to Legal and Safety Messages

Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw, Policing Lecturer, has co-written an article on driver distraction with Helen Wells and Gemma Briggs. ‘The Inconvenient Truth About Mobile Phone Distraction: Understanding the Means, Motive and Opportunity for Driver Resistance to Legal and Safety Messages’ is on The British Journal of Criminology here.