Farah Mendlesohn

About Farah Mendlesohn

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

Avans International Interns

Eleven of our Undergraduate Forensic students, including one of our Avans International Interns, presented their research at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) at Bournemouth University on Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th April 2017.  The students presented findings from their Independent Research Projects, which included studies into sexual offences, fingerprints, decomposition, osteology, body fluid analysis, archaeological techniques and fibres evidence, either as an oral presentation or a poster presentation. 

 

 

Back Row, L-R: Antony O’Rourke, Lance Malcolm, Jake Baylis Middle Row, L-R: Elli Sarvari, Laura Denton, Dr Laura Walton-Williams, Ting-Ting Chu, Jessica Baugh, Jessica Crossland Front Row L-R: Danielle McBride, Natalie Atkinson, Jessica Gill

They were accompanied by Dr Laura Walton-Williams, who was incredibly impressed by the professionalism and quality of the students research.  “The calibre of research presented at BCUR is incredibly high, and we are delighted that so many of our students had the opportunity to present here. It is a very competitive process, so the fact that so many of our students were accepted to present speaks volumes about the quality of research they have conducted.  I am very proud of all of the students who presented at this event and hope this will provide them with the confidence to further disseminate the findings of their research.” The students would like to thank Staffordshire University who generously funded the students registration, travel and accommodation to this national conference and Tim Harris (Staffordshire University Geography Senior Lecturer and Member of BCUR Organising Committee) for his support and guidance.

Student Ambassador Awards 2017

One of the ways we seek to make our Open Days welcoming is through the help of our Student Ambassadors. There are around 200 of these, and they take turns to guide students and family through Open Days and Applicant Days; they go into Schools and Colleges; deliver workshops at Staffs Uni and answer your questions from their direct experience.

This is only the second year we’ve run the awards.

The event was a collaboration between Paul Donnelly and Laura Knight and Jamie Leese

We had canapes and prosecco before going into one of our most up to date lecture theatres for the presentation. 

 

There were twelve section awards given out for different aspects of the ambassador contribution. Bertha Eke more than demonstrated why she won the prize for Enthusiasm, and as someone who has more than once arrived at events to find a ‘crisis’ in progress, I was tickled by Klaudia Szatkowska’s Make the Best of a Bad Job Award.

Award                                                 Winner

Residential Ambassador Award                Sam Pillow

Post 16 Ambassador Award                     Lucy Beaman & Satty Kaur

Best Newcomer                                     Carly Twigg

Ambassador Enthusiasm Award               Bertha Eke

Open Day Ambassador Award                  Jess Prince

Best Communicator Award                     Marlone Judith

 

 

Making the best of a bad job award           Klaudia Szatkowska

UCAS Exhibitions Ambassador               Lauren Welsh

Great Minds Bus Tour Ambassador           Arpan Bedi

Services to Admissions & Enrolment       Gitana Duka & Julie-Anne Slevin

Social Media Award                               Sam Pillow   

Above and Beyond Award                       Elli Sarvari

 

 

The final award of the evening, to the Ambassador of the year, went to Jess Prince.

The Changing Face of LBTQ+ campaigning

On April 28th a group from the Gender, Sexuality and Society module, led by Dr. Emma Temple-Mault (far right) took a trip to the People’’s History Museum in Manchester and to the Manchester Art Gallery.

Group picture

The highlight of the trip was very definitely the People’s History Museum. It has on an exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Sexual Offences Act. This legalised consensual sex between men over 21, in a ‘private place’ and ushered in the modern era of LGBT+ civil rights campaigns.

It starts with an exhibition about the pre 1967 community with this poster about Polari, the language of the London gay male subculture.

Polari

The exhibition explores the campaigns against entrapment, against the passage of the Section 28 amendment to the local government act, the right to keep one’s children after divorce and later to adopt children. It considers the way representation has changed both in the media and in the community, and the ways in which that community has changed; in particular issues around racism and transgender prejudice in the community are addressed.

Black Lives Matter

Ian McKellen on the front of Gay Times

 

The exhibition is particularly strong on artefacts, from the Clause 28 tea service, leaflets and magazines (a cover of Gay Times with a young Ian McKellan) and perhaps the highlight, the sparkling police helmet.

Police helmet

After that (and after pizza!) we went down to the Manchester Art Gallery to take a look at some historic depictions of sexuality and gender.

Coming as we did from the Potteries, the Clause 28 tea service stood out.

 

Alison Briggs, one of the students writes, “I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and thought that it was a wonderful opportunity for staff and students to engage with one another outside of the University. Em, as usual, had put in a huge amount of effort in organising it and to ensure that it was a success, even down to producing an itinerary for our activities. I particularly enjoyed the People’s History Museum and the Going Underground Exhibition. We had covered the history of the LGBTQ+ struggle in our GSS module and to have one of the curators talk us through it, contextualising and explaining it in greater detail was such a bonus! I also found your own personal reflections from this time interesting and insightful – thank you. It was a wonderful way to end the module and for me personally, to mark the end of my degree – days such as these are not forgotten in a hurry!”

Daniel Gill, said of the the trip; “What a way to end the module! The exhibit gets a 10/10 from me! still cant believe all the things we got to see and do for just £10! really chilled day with a lovely lunch and a cool visit to canal street!”

Clause 28 tea serviceC from Stoke, the Clause 28 tea service stood out.

Launch of the BA (HONS) Criminology with Offender Management in September 2018.

April 2017 sees the creation of a new government agency focused on providing an effective service for people who access custodial and probation services. The HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) will build on the work of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to provide:

  • A new frontline service tasked with reforming offenders launched by Justice Secretary
  • Prison and probation staff to be given increased training and clear career progression
  • HMPPS launch coincides with prison governors being given greater control of establishments

Staffordshire University was the first university in the country to offer a workplace foundation degree in offender management. The Law Department developed a BA (HONS) Offender Management ‘top up’ degree to enable prison officers to graduate with a full award in Offender Management.

The announcement by the Justice Secretary coincides with the introduction of the Law Department’s new award in 2018; the BA (HONS) Criminology with Offender Management. This award will offer a new and exciting product to students who are seeking employment in the Justice and custodial sector, prisons, probation, youth offending services and the security industry. The award will be the first in the country to provide modules specifically designed to teach students how to recognise and manage individuals who are suicidal or present with potential mental health conditions.

The Howard League for Penal Reform highlighted that 19 people died by suicide in prison in England and Wales in 2016. This figure represents the highest number in a calendar year since current recording practices began in 1978. Of these 119 self-inflicted deaths, 12 were women – more than double the previous year’s figure. Ten per cent of the deaths by suicide in prison in 2016 were of women, despite women making up less than five per cent of the total prison population. The team at Staffordshire University are working on ways of teaching staff to recognise problems before it is too late.

The Government has just completed an inquiry into mental health and deaths in prison. The inquiry explored three broad themes: whether prison is the right place for vulnerable offenders such as those with mental health conditions and/or learning difficulties; the way prisoners with mental health conditions are treated in prison; how to ensure that lessons for the future are learned, errors not repeated and that good practice becomes common practice. The Staffordshire award is set to develop

The launch of HMPPS brings development opportunities for staff, looking to further professionalise and build pride in the service. As part of the Government’s commitment to boost opportunities for staff in the newly formed HMPPS, the government plans to create 2,000 new senior promotion opportunities for valued and experienced prison officers to progress into.

The BA (HONS) Criminology with Offender Management award was developed in consultation with HMPs in the Midlands. Academic staff who have worked closely with prison officers at all levels created an award that they will deliver together with tutors from the School of Health and Social Care. Tutors will teach students how to recognise and manage individuals who are suicidal or present with potential mental health conditions.

Probation services will also be more empowered in providing support to offenders both under the supervision of the HMPSS and in the community when they come out of prison. As part of the further growth opportunities, the HPSS is planning to enhance professional qualifications for probation officers and increase the integration of prison and probation services.

The HMPSS is ready to offer apprenticeship schemes to give recruits a clear progression pathway, underlining the Government’s commitment to develop the skills of prison and probation staff.

Staffordshire University is currently developing local commercial relationships with Prisons in Staffordshire to provide partnership opportunities for their prisoners and students. Students studying on the new award will have the opportunity to study with, visit our partners at local prisons, and become involved in research activities relevant to future employment.

For more information contact: Louis.Martin@staffs.ac.uk

Digital Forensics Portfolio Board Quality Standards Project

Claire Gwinnet at presenting to the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC)   at a  Digital Forensic Network & Learning Event  this week entitled ‘ Digital Forensics and ISO 17025’.

Claire Gwinnet presenting on a a validation study for ISO accreditation.

– this is an all police forces event invitation only event to discuss and share best practice in accreditation in digital forensics.

Breaking News: no leeway on speeding limits.

You may not be aware but currently under the law, you are liable the minute you exceed the speed limit and subject to the possibility of receiving a speeding ticket. If you are travelling at 31mph in a 30mph limit, 41mph in a 40 you are liable. Many experts have stated that with traffic enforcement this strict, it could force drivers to watch their speedos more intensely than the actual road they are travelling on.

We also need to understand that speedometers are not always as accurate as you would like them to be, even on new cars. Therefore if your speedometer’s calibration is incorrect, a driver could think they were doing 70mph, as the speedometer was recording this, but they could innocently be travelling at a higher speed.

To try to take a more practical approach, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is suggesting that police services do not prosecute until drivers exceed a margin of error of 10% of the speed limit. This effectively takes into account driver concentration and another 2mph for speedometer errors.

This should mean that most police services will not prosecute until you are driving at more than 46mph in a 40mph limit, for example, or 79mph in a 70mph limit. It is important to remember, that this is only guidance and any decision is at the discretion of the individual officers and police services.

There are various different ways in which you can be caught exceeding the speed limit;

  1. A speed camera.
  2. An average speed camera system
  3. Mobile speed camera vans
  4. Speed traps

There is still also the option of being stopped and spoken to by a police officer. If a police officer decides to take formal action the officer must have evidence of your speed to be able to prosecute. This can be obtained by using a hand-held speed gun, or through the use of a camera vehicle, like car or motorcycle. One thing to also be aware of, is that on a motorway, an officer does not need any extra evidence of speeding. The officer’s opinion under these conditions is enough to prosecute.

If your vehicle is caught on a speed camera, the police service concerned will make enquiries to obtain the address of the owner from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The registered owner of the vehicle will then be sent Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), where they will be requested to provide driver details in the post. The Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and the request to provide driver details are two different legal documents and should be treated as such, although in practice they usually appear on the same document. It is important to remember that if you are the owner of the vehicle, you will receive the document, even if you were not the person driving at the time.

If that is the case, you should complete that part of the Notice of Intended Prosecution. This allows you to notify the police of the name and address of the person who was driving at the time.

There have been times where people have decided foolishly to give incorrect or false details, but be aware that doing so falsely is an offence in itself, and can lead to a prosecution for failing to provide driver details, which carries a minimum six-point penalty or a disqualification from driving, or even worse a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice.

Once the driver has been established there are three options: an offer to attend a speed awareness course, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), or a court summons, depending on your speed will be made.  If you dispute that you were speeding, but admit being the driver, you should reply to the police admitting that you were driving. But please remember if the police offer a speed awareness course or a fixed penalty you should not accept. This will then trigger the police to send you a postal requisition, where you can take your case to the magistrate’s court to contest.

The rules are slightly different if you are caught by an officer in person. He or she will either issue you with a Fixed Penalty Notice, or advise you that you will receive a court summons, depending on the severity of your offence. Remember, you have 28 days to decide and it is your right not to accept the FPN. If you decide to reject this offer, again you will have to take your case to the magistrate’s court.

Today the Fixed Penalty Notice for speeding will result in three points on your driving licence and also a £100 fine. If your speed is especially high where a court appearance is required, or if you decide to reject the Fixed Penalty Notice, these penalties may be more severe. The maximum fine for speeding is £1,000, except on a motorway, where this is £2,500 and your licence could be revoked.

The new system appears to be more complicated. Below is a broad outline, starting with the three main ‘bands’ of speeding, which need to be understood and also a speed limit table.

Band A

This refers to the lowest level of speeding. For example, you could be driving at between 21mph and 30mph in a 20mph zone, 31mph to 40mph in a 30mph zone, or 71mph to 90mph on a 70mph road. You can expect three points on your licence, and a fine of around 50% of your weekly income.

 

Band B

This is for more serious cases of speeding. If you’re in a 20mph zone and you drive at 31mph to 40mph, or in a 40mph zone at 56mph to 65mph, or up to 100mph in a 70mph, that will be a Band B fine. That means four to six points on your licence, or disqualification for between seven and 28 days, plus a fine of 100% of your weekly income.

 

Band C

This is for the most egregious speeding. If you’re doing 41mph or above in a 20mph zone, 51mph or above in a 30mph zone, or above 100mph in a 70mph zone, that’s a Band C fine. That means six points on your licence or disqualification for between seven and 56 days, as well as a fine of 150% of your weekly income.

 

Speed limit Min speed for a speeding ticket Min speed for prosecution
20mph 24mph 35mph
30mph 35mph 50mph
40mph 46mph 66mph
50mph 57mph 76mph
60mph 68mph 86mph
70mph 79mph 96mph

It is important to understand that mitigating circumstances can always make a difference to the final penalty, things like a genuine emergency, a lack of previous relevant convictions and “good character”. Aggravating factors can have an impact such as previous convictions, speeding in bad weather, speeding in a lorry, bus or taxi, speeding while towing, speeding while driving for hire or reward, speeding with passengers, or speeding somewhere particularly inappropriate, like near a school or crowded shopping street.

You could also be offered a speed awareness course as an alternative to a FPN. Many police services now offer a speed awareness course. This course is designed to make people more aware of their speed and the consequences of their actions. It is delivered over one full day.

A Speed awareness course cannot be requested by a speeder. It is totally at the discretion of each individual police service. However, the reason that most people decide to attend one of these courses is because they will not get any points or a fine. Although this was designed to prevent points or fines being issued, some car insurers have now started asking whether you have attended a course, so that they can increase premiums.

The police cannot issue a FPN If you had nine or more active penalty points on your licence on the date that you were speeding. The case will have to go to court. All drivers who get twelve or more active penalty points are disqualified at court for at least six months. However you may be able to plead exceptional hardship.

My advice before deciding to reject an FPN and take a speeding offence to court would be to seek advice from a legal professional.

Procedures do need to be correct for a prosecution to be successful and things that can prevent a successful prosecution are:

  1. The NIP must be served on the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days of the day following the offence and if it does not arrive within this time period, can be contested. However, the NIP only has to be served on the registered keeper within 14 days and there is no time limit for serving a request for driver details. If someone else names you as the driver, for example if you were driving a company car or a hire car, it is quite likely that the first notice will come more than 14 days after the offence.
  2. Convictions can be overturned by demonstrating that the equipment was not calibrated correctly. In fact, all speed-detecting equipment must have a calibration certificate valid for the day it is being used, and motorists accused of speeding are within their rights to request a copy of this certificate.

 

I hope this blog gives you a better insight into the latest legislation in force from today (24th April 2017)

Dave Tapp

 

Make a Difference in Policing

From Professor Andrew R W Jackson

Arguably, an evidence-based revolution is underway in British Policing and you could be part of it.

This blog outlines:

  • the basis of this revolution;
  • a briefing founded in this revolution that I co-presented last week to senior leaders of Policing in Staffordshire;
  • opportunities for our students that arise from this revolution.

What is the revolution?

 Police use the following as engines of progress:

  • democratic accountability;
  • effective leadership;
  • line management;
  • post-operation debrief;
  • challenge provided to senior officers by members of their teams;
  • reviews and inspections.

To this list, they are increasingly adding research-informed knowledge of ‘what works best’. By doing this, they are able to engage in evidence-based practice. In my view, this is not just a new tool in the policing tool-kit, it is revolutionary.

What was the briefing?

 On 4 April, myself and a colleague from Keele University gave a briefing to Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Staffordshire’s Chief Constable, and their senior staff. This informed them about the £290,541 project work that we have been undertaking for the Police Knowledge Fund. This work is aimed at enabling police to better engage with knowledge production and exchange, empowering them to identify and use ‘what works best’ and to adopt evidence-based practice.

What are the opportunities?

 Amongst the opportunities that this work has identified are projects that are highly suitable for students to become involved with. Indeed, three of our current students have already started on such projects. There are concerned with:

  • an evaluation of the predictive abilities of a risk management tool used by the police in cases of domestic abuse;
  • the development of a toolkit for the evaluation of the effectiveness of police training;
  • improved methods of performance review.

The exciting thing about these projects is that they enable students to apply what they have learnt with us to real-life challenges faced in every-day policing. By studying at Staffordshire University, you too will have the opportunity, through project work like this, to be part of the evidence-based-policing revolution.

Middle Temple Open Day

Hannah Jones  went to Middle Temple with Breanne Richter. Both are students on the LLB with a Foundation Year.

I went to the Middle Temple Open Day with my fellow student Breanne. We decided to take the train down to London the day before and spend the night in the city. For anyone who has not been to London, our capital is a noisy, crowded, thriving hub. It never sleeps. After our evening meal, Breanne and I decided to take a walk from Fleet Street, where our hotel was, all the way to Big Ben. Even at 11o’clock at night the streets were full of tourists and buskers. It was overwhelming.


My first impression of the Middle Temple was affluence. Walking through the gardens on the way to the Hall I found it hard to believe that we were in the heart of London. If you listen carefully you can hear the city, but it is completely out context with the “quiet” surrounding of the historical buildings and well-kept garden setting. Upon entering the Hall, I got the feeling of a manor house. The urge to tiptoe around the building, looking at the many paintings and plaques was tempting. The architecture was stunning and it did feel like a house of learned people.

The Masters that were conducting the presentations were informative and captured the attention of the room. It was not hard to imagine them taking control of a courtroom. After the talks, we all adjourned to the gardens for lunch and networking. Breanne and I also had the privilege of meeting the great nephew of Donoghue from the Donoghue and Stevenson case. Luckily, for us there were no snails in our bottles of water!

It was a fantastic networking experience. As well as the temple members, we got to meet and chat to other students from different universities. It did not escape my attention that no matter what university you come from, the fundamentals are all the same. I was proud to be representing Staffs.

What happens in the labs when you are away

So it is the Easter break. Time to relax, spend some time with the family, eat chocolate!

For us technical staff the breaks are often as busy as the teaching term! We have large-scale cleaning, disposals, stocktaking, ordering and replenishing just to start. With the third semester for the MSc students on the horizon, there is also solution making for the wet practical labs, setting up and preparation for the criminalistics labs, a deep clean of the crime scene house and some trauma make-up, engineer visits, maintenance of instrumentation and equipment; not forgetting all the normal weekly routine work, whilst still available for support of the MSci, placement students, and our Belgian and Dutch interns. Thank goodness for bank holidays J

Presenting at the Annual British Sociological Association

Dr Em Temple-Malt has just returned from presenting at the Annual British Sociological Association conference at the University of Manchester along with one of our third year Sociology students and we caught up with them both to find out how it went.

 

Emma and Alison

Dr Emma Temple-Malt you’ve recently conducted research on breaking the cycle of domestic Abuse. Tell us about the research that you were presenting on and a few reasons as to why this research was of national interest?

Our study involved interviews with professionals who work with perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse and perpetrators on behaviour change programmes. During the interviews, we explored what was working, what needed improving and what gaps there were in service provision for perpetrators of domestic abuse in order to more effectively tackle offending behaviour.

Our research is of national interest for several reasons.

First, financial resources and funding for domestic abuse service provision has been steadily eroding due to budget cuts as a result of austerity measures introduced in 2010. This means commissioners of domestic abuse service provision are faced with tough decisions about which services they continue to fund, and they are tasked with funding those services that can demonstrate that they are actively ensuring that domestic abuse offending is reducing. While our research was specific to the city of Stoke-on-Trent and county of Staffordshire, our findings have a much wider resonance because these difficult decisions are being faced by commissioners all over the UK.

Our research highlights how a lot of attention and much of the meagre funding that is available for domestic abuse service provision tends to go to supporting the needs of those who are fleeing abuse and helping them to rebuild their lives. Many who flee abuse return to or form new, unhealthy and violent relationships. While we are not advocates for reducing funding to victims of DA, we do think that uncomfortable truths need to be faced about service provision in order to better reduce re-offending rates.

Second, our research highlights the problematic way that service provision tends to continue to be heteronormative and reinforce the traditional view that men are the perpetrators and women are the victims. This silences the fact that men can be victims of abuse, and that domestic abuse can occur in same-sex relationships and in trans-relationships; there is very little in the way of effective service provision for those who fall outside of the normative view of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim.

Third, perpetrators and professionals indicated that there were things that could be done to prevent offending in the first place and thus avoid the Criminal Justice System altogether. Every participant emphasised that education was a way to prevent and reduce domestic abuse. In particular, the need for ‘healthy relationship’ education within schools and looked after children settings to better equip young people to form and sustain healthy relationship and to identify unhealthy relationship behaviour and develop strategies to help them avoid becoming tangled up in unhealthy relationships when they are adults.

How common is it for academics to present with undergraduate students at such events?

Taking an undergraduate to present at a national sociological conference with an international audience was rare, if not unique. Alison exuded such confidence she didn’t betray any nerves and was a shining example. In the days leading up to the conference, we spent time rehearsing together for timing, which I think helped lessen nerves.

What do you think that undergraduate students gain from opportunities to work alongside you and your team in conducting research and presenting findings?

Working alongside staff in the Crime and Society Research Group, students get to play a central role in designing and delivering research that makes a difference to the local community and society. Students who are passionate about particular topics, societal problems and issues get the opportunity to work on full scale professional research projects. Designing research projects and researching particular problems stand them in good stead for working within the professions that they are doing research in or those who want to go on to be professional social researchers develop core competencies and skills and knowledge needed for these professions. They get to take research to the next level and learn the importance of all the hard work that goes into the design and delivery of research projects and also get to influence the final product. They develop key skills for researching and sifting out literature, writing and communicating key messages for different audiences and purposes.

Alison, you are a third year sociology student and presented at the conference with Dr Em Temple-Malt. What are the main things that you have gained from working as a research assistant on this project?

It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work with lecturing staff who are research active and to observe their practice and to learn from them. This has afforded me the chance to put my learning into practice, and under their guidance, helped me to develop my own research skills. It has driven my desire to take my academic studies further and it’s been a rewarding and enriching experience for which I’m very grateful. The three main things that I have gained are:-

1) Invaluable experience as part of a commissioned research project which gave me the chance to build upon my knowledge of social research methods, and put that knowledge into practice

2) Inspiration and direction for the next stage in my learning – I hope to study for a Master’s degree in Social Research Methods

3) Confidence in my abilities

Alison, how has studying at Staffordshire University helped you with delivering the presentation at a national conference?

My studies at Staffordshire University have given me the analytical and critical thinking skills that I wanted to develop when I embarked on my degree. My confidence in my abilities and belief in myself has grown immeasurably over the last three years and this is testament to the tutelage I’ve received. I’ve also had the opportunity to develop my presentation skills through various assessments this year which have been invaluable.

Alison, how was the presentation received?

The presentation was well received and with interest, and stimulated direct engagement with other academics.

Finally, Dr Em Temple-Malt, will you be offering similar opportunities to students to engage in professional research practice in the future?

Over the coming 12 months students should be on the lookout for announcements about opportunities to get involved in research projects being conducted by the Crime and Society Research group. I, for example am working with Paul Christie in the Drama department on a pilot project that intends to take forum theatre/drama into schools to teach teens to recognise unhealthy relationships and to build personal strategies to avoid becoming entangled in such relationships. My colleague Sarah Page is in the early stages of research involving adolescents on how to better promote breastfeeding and de-sexualise the breast.