Progressive Plastics

A sustainable future for plastics is within our grasp. But it will require chemical scientists, policy makers, those in industry, and those from a range of disciplines to work together.

In collaboration with The Royal Society of Chemistry, Professor Claire Gwinnett joins other experts on microplastics to explore the important issues and difficult questions about microplastics. Find out more here.

‘Adolf Island’: The Nazi Occupation of Alderney

A new book, which tells the stories of thousands of labourers caught up in the Nazi occupation of Alderney in World War 2, has been published.

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‘The book [‘Adolf Isand’: The Nazi Occupation of Alderney] is the culmination of ten years’ research carried out by Staffordshire University forensic archaeologists Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls and Associate Professor Kevin Colls. Their investigations on the island have also been the subject of a TV documentary which was screened on the Smithsonian Channel in 2019. Find out more here.

Law students join in welcome for newly enrolled students at APIIT Sri Lanka

On Friday the 8th of April, some first year LLB (Hons) Law students joined Aidan Flynn, Academic Link Tutor (Law), to participate online in giving a warm welcome to students embarking on the university’s LLB course at APIIT Sri Lanka.  For over twenty years, APIIT Sri Lanka and Staffordshire University have each been enriched by their positive partnership relationship.

Aidan Flynn (far left) with current Law students at Staffordshire University

Losalini Boteanakadava, a first-year student at Staffordshire, said “It was a privilege to participate in the welcome given to new LLB students during their induction at APIIT Sri Lanka.  We enjoyed this interaction with our peers in Colombo and Kandy.”

Finding the missing and unknown: Novel educational approaches to warming up cold cases

Professor Caroline Sturdy-Colls, Associate Professor Jo Turner, Associate Professor Rachel Bolton-King, Dr Sam Spence and Emma Tilley have co-authored an article with Karsten Bettels (Police Academy Lower Saxony), Dave Grimstead (Locate International), Cheryl Allsop (University of South Wales), Anna Chaussée (University of Winchester), Brendan Chapman (Murdoch University), David Keatley (Murdoch University) and Annette Marquardt (State Attorney Department Verden) on cold cases.

“In recent years, students in police academies and higher education institutions around the world have worked together to analyse cold cases including long-term missing persons cases in collaboration with investigators and prosecutors. In 2020, three European organisations, the Police Expert Network on Missing Persons (PEN-MP), AMBER Alert Europe and Locate International, succeeded in connecting these educational organisations enabling them to work collectively on cases and conduct cold case analyses (CCA) across international borders.”

You can read the article, ‘Finding the missing and unknown: Novel educational approaches to warming up cold cases’ on Science Direct here.

Students Invited to Lincoln’s Inn Event for Aspiring Barristers

On 23rd February, a few of our Law students were invited to Lincoln’s Inn, London. Mary Carstairs, a current Law student, has written about the experience.

On February 23rd I had the opportunity to attend the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in London, at an event for students of law who are interested in becoming barristers.

The event began with a tea and coffee reception followed by a most informative presentation by members of Lincoln’s Inn covering history, ethics, practice points, etiquette, and job opportunities. There was a wine reception with the opportunity to engage with other students and members of the Inn, judges and barristers. We were then invited to enter the Great Dining Hall where we enjoyed a very formal and elegant dinner. The seating arrangement ensured that there was a barrister or judge near enough to engage in conversations during the meal.

Lincoln’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London, and its founding is thought to be in 1310. The library of the Inn holds the black books, as they are known, which document minutes of the governing council dating back to the 1400s. A notable installation in the Dining Hall, is a tapestry which dates to the 1600s and looks more like a painting than a tapestry. One of the women I was seated near during the meal is an employee of the Inn and she explained that while some repairs and restoration was being done, the tapestry was torn; of course, it was repaired in short order.

As a mature international student from a country with relatively new legal traditions (dating back only 250 years, not 600 years like Lincoln’s Inn), I was in awe of the grandeur and the history of Lincoln’s Inn. It was an opportunity and an honour to have been able to experience some of the aged traditions of Lincoln’s Inn; as well as having the opportunity to engage with many esteemed practitioners.

I would like to give thanks to the faculty for allowing me this amazing opportunity. I am sure I speak for all of us who attended from Staffordshire University when I say, ‘Proud to be Staffs’.

Historical Bore or Prison Lesson?

On Tuesday 15th March, our first year Law students went on an educational trip to Shrewsbury Prison. Duncan Carson, a Law student, has written about the experience

Prisons. We’ve all seen them on the telly. From Ronnie Barker’s prisoners’ view in “Porridge,” (incidentally, the only ever sit-com with no opening music) to C4’s more recent officers’ view in “Screw.” Well now you can go and walk on the wing without committing a crime. HMP Shrewsbury has been transformed and is open to the public for visitors. It’s cold, forbidding, authentic, cold, grim, unpleasant and cold. Yes, it really is that cold, on a chilly March morning, it was a relief to step outside into the wind for some warmth. It has cells made-up to show how they have changed since the 50’s – one which represents riot conditions – and they will lock you in one until you answer some riddles to “escape.” You can even visit the long disused execution room.

A cell set up to represent riot confiditions

It’s all very real and if you visit and walk around yourself, it can be very dull.

But…

Take the tour with real ex-prison officers Graham and Mick and it all comes to life. Not in a television melodrama way, but through the eyes of those who have lived it. Graham is a natural performer who will describe what happens upon arrival, where “normal” inmates and “protected” prisoners (sex offenders, convicted policemen and the odd lawyer etc) are segregated. He’ll tell you about the swift and violent retribution for not repaying a prison debt, and he’ll tell you about his  regret of watching inmates kick their drug addiction only to see them return three months after release, because they have nowhere to go expect back to the same bad crowds and same bad habits that got them banged up in the first place. Mick loves to tell a “war story.” Some are amusingly disgusting involving slop out buckets and some make you despair as inmates come to harm because of managerial penny-pinching and corner-cutting in the name of efficiency.

Throughout the tour, these guys, with decades of experience, will tell you how it really was in HMP Shrewsbury; and you can feel their pride in what they felt was a good prison, where officers could build relationships with the men and they felt they could do something to help make sure that, at least some of them, never returned. The feeling that they disapprove of newer, bigger, “more efficient” prisons is palpable and you can tell they believe a 5% budget saving today means a 10% increase in returning customers.

These are not bleeding heart liberals, but professionals who have figured out that dehumanising treatment and a “lock ‘em up and forget ‘em” attitude does not magically transform criminals into well rounded, law-abiding members of society. They talk with excitement about “listeners;” prisoner volunteers who sit and talk with suicide risk inmates and then advise the officers how often they need to be checked on. They proudly mention that many prisoners said HMP Shrewsbury had the best food in the country. They state that tobacco never drove anyone to violence (except as prison currency), but the ban on smoking created a gap which hard drugs filled as inmates look for something to de-stress. This led to an escalation of danger on the wings. They appreciate prison is a punishment, but without rehabilitation there is little point in release dates.

So please, go to Shrewsbury Prison. Take the tour and see if you can honestly say you came away without having at least a more nuanced approach to crime and punishment.

Oh, and wrap up warm. It’s really cold

The Pending Poverty Catastrophe in Stoke-on-Trent: How Benefit Cuts and the Cost-of-Living Crisis Impacts on the Poor

In this co-authored report, Dr Luke Telford, Professor David Etherington, Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive, Professor Martin Jones and Citizens Advice Stoke-on-Trent, address the ‘pending poverty catastrophe in Stoke-on-Trent and how benefit cuts and the cost-of-living crisis impact upon the area, particularly the poor’.

Read the full report here.

Law Students Qualify for Client Interviewing Competition Finals

Congratulations to two of our Law students, Duncan Carson and Susan Guest, who have made it to the finals of the Client Interviewing Competition! Susan kindly shares her experience of the regional competition. 

Bringing together an unlikely pair to represent Staffordshire University in the Client Interviewing Competition was the beginning of our journey just over a month ago. As a level 6 student, I had the benefit of almost three years legal studies to draw on to help us analyse the legal problem we were faced with. Duncan, a Level 4 student, complimented my knowledge with his impressive interviewing skills and ability to draw out the information from the client.

Our practice began under the close supervision of Tracey Horton, a qualified Solicitor who guided and advised us throughout our practice interviews. Bringing a range of scenarios and characters into play allowed us to encounter challenging characters, situations and provide advise in both a legal and non legal context.

Having Tracey as our coach gave us invaluable feedback on our performance, enhanced our interviewing techniques and most of all developed us as a team. Identifying where our strengths lay and how best we used those to complement each other’s skill set, provided us with the best possible opportunity to not only obtain the information from the client but how to analyse the information to give the client the most appropriate advice, allowing them to make an informed choice based on their circumstances.

 “Duncan and Susan did amazingly well and put in a lot of work, rehearsing beforehand. Despite technical difficulties on the day, they showed their resilience by remaining calm and professional”

– Tracey Horton


Although we experienced some technical difficulties on the day of the competition, Tracey had prepared us for any eventuality that could arise. Continuing the interview while the technical issues were resolved ensured minimal impact on the client interview on the day.

Both myself and Duncan now look to the semi finals on the 12th March 2022, and through practice and preparation hope to bring Staffordshire University Law department success in the competition. #Proudtobestaffs

Good luck in the finals, Duncan and Susan!

What archaeology can tell us about the lives of children in England 1,500 years ago

“Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, groups from northwest Europe made their way to British shores. Germanic peoples settled in what is now England between the fifth and seventh centuries AD.

The traditions around death and burial they brought with them provide us with a snapshot of the lives and deaths of people in these communities. Burials can also offer information about a frequently overlooked group: children.” 

 

 

 

Read Associate Professor Kirsty Squires‘ article ‘What archaeology can tell us about the lives of children in England 1,500 years ago’-  on The Conversation here

Firearms Global Perspectives on Consequences, Crime and Control

Dr Helen Poole, Executive Dean of the School of Justice, Security and Sustainability, has co-edited Firearms: Global Perspectives on Consequences, Crime and Control with Dr Simon Sneddon (University of Northampton). The book explores the illicit use of firearms across the globe, including legal, social science, technical and research perspectives on the issue.

Read more here.