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. ”

What You Can Expect on Our Offer Holder Days

We had our third Offer Holder Day, on Saturday 17th February, for our 2018 entry applicants. The School of Law, Policing and Forensics applicants met our staff, a few of our students, and experienced taster sessions of what they can expect if they choose to study at Staffordshire University.

Chemistry is a part of the School of Law, Policing and Forensics, and is new for 2018. Our Chemistry applicants had hands on experience in our labs, where they conducted some paracetamol analysis and calculations .

Law applicants on a mixture of our Law courses, including the new BA Criminal Justice with Offender Management, got involved in two interactive sessions.

Louis Martin and Anna Garland used real life case studies and encouraged interactive discussions. Louis focused on serial killers and Criminal Law and Anna discussed the core areas of Legal study that students can expect to learn about (Contract Law, Tort Law, Constitutional Law, Property Law, Equitable Remedies, EU Law and Criminal Law), using a few of the following examples:

Donoghue v Stevenson (1932)
The Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation (2001)
Jolly v Sutton LBC (2000).

Former Senior Investigating Officer for Staffordshire Police and Course Leader of our Policing and Criminal Investigation courses, Phil Lee, briefed our applicants and then took them to the crime scene house; they took the role of Senior Investigating Officers, where they used body cameras and recorded evidence.

 

Professor James Treadwell encouraged our Sociology and Criminology applicants to think like a Sociologist and Criminologist when discussing topical images. Applicants were then given the opportunity to speak to one of our current Sociology students and ask questions.

Forensic Science and Forensic Investigation applicants were suited in protective clothing and had practical experience of crime scene processing and evidence analysis – at our crime scene house and labs.

Our next Offer Holder Day will take place on Wednesday 14th March. Find out more on our website.

Erasmus+: Proud to Promote Student Mobility

Understand another way of life ~ more independent and improved English Language Skills ~ Teaching and Learning style is very different but easy to adapt to ~ was able to integrate well and joined the musical theatre society” 

In 2014, Staffordshire University was awarded an Erasmus Standard University Charter in order to participate in the Erasmus+ programme.

The Erasmus+ is a programme that promotes student mobility, by providing opportunities for Higher Education students to work or study abroad at one of our partner institutions in Europe (for a minimum of two months and a maximum of twelve months). A grant is available to assist with the extra costs.

Students must be registered on a full time degree, study for a minimum of three months and the study time must count for credit towards their degree. Work placements can be credit bearing (compulsory) or non-credit bearing (voluntary).

The first Erasmus newsletter was published in February and introduced Wendy Pollard, Erasmus Co-ordinator.

The first students from the School of Law, Policing and Forensics, will be beginning their Erasmus+ programme in January in Prague. However, we also have students from our partner institutions studying here at Staffordshire University. A student from France, studying on one of our Sociology courses, said the experience has made her ‘more culturally aware’, enhanced her future career skills and made her ‘more open minded’; she ‘learned more about [the varying] social environment[s] more deeply involved in different areas of sociology’. Whilst studying here, she ‘went on a trip to Manchester for Research Methods’ and had ‘the opportunity to travel around the country – Scotland to London’.

~ Not just for Students ~

Erasmus is not just for students; there are opportunities available in training or teaching mobility. Staff are able to teach at our partner institutions for a minimum of five days and a maximum of six weeks. Training opportunities are available to all staff as long as it meets the criteria of the European Union.

‘The training enables members of staff to acquire knowledge or specific know how from experience and good practices abroad, as well as develop practical skills that are relevant for their current role or as part of their professional development. So examples would be job-shadowing, study visits or relevant conferences or training.’

There was a huge uptake of around 50 teaching and attending training events last year. Sue Lee, E-Learning Manager at Staffordshire University, said “taking part in a Staff Training week in Sweden was a great experience. I learned a lot and enjoyed it. I met lots of interesting people from all over Europe; Spain, Hungary, France, Germany, Romania and more. Our Swedish hosts made us very welcome with activities that ranged from discussions in small groups to “A crash course in Swedish”, and more importantly, an introduction to “Swedish Fika” – Coffee and cake at every opportunity! I’d recommend taking part in the Erasmus program to everyone, I wish I’d known about it before.”

To find out more about opportunities available under Erasmus, contact Wendy Pollard at erasmus@staffs.ac.uk or on 01785 353404.

Why Study or Work Abroad?

Students (eligible to claim for 12 months’ support per study cycle, i.e. degree level, masters, etc.):
• 12 month sandwich placements – this would sit as part of the student’s degree programme (we currently only have Computing doing this)
• Summer placement (minimum 2 month) – this would be work experience and does not have to link to the student’s degree; see www.erasmusintern.org
• Study abroad (minimum 3 months but could be up to 1 year) – this would be with a partner university and Wendy Pollard would work with the Staffordshire University course leader and the partner organisation to facilitate this. This would involve setting up an inter-institutional agreement if there is not one already in place
• Recent Graduate Scheme – if the student secures a work opportunity overseas (fixed term or permanent) prior to graduation they are able to claim up to 12 months funding – this is assuming they haven’t already used their allocation of Erasmus funding during their study

Staff (academic and professional support):
• Training weeks at any educational institution or organisation which could involve job shadowing or organised international weeks; minimum 2 day visit and minimum of 8 hours of activity per week – see www.staffmobility.eu/staff-week-search
• Teaching (minimum 2 day visit and minimum of 8 hours per week) at a partner institution where we have an interinstitutional agreement in place
• Scoping visits to establish partnerships (educational or commercial)
• Staff placement visits for those students on 12 month placemen

Learning Outside of the Lecture

Students explored archive material that depict democracy at varying times in history. 

On Friday 17th November, Staffordshire University’s level five Sociology and Criminology students went on a course trip to the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

Students participated in a rage of activities that introduced them to some interesting archival material on the Russian Revolution; they also explored various artifacts and political propaganda posters.

 

The People’s History Museum describes itself as ‘the national museum of democracy’ that ‘aim[s] to engage, inspire and inform diverse audiences by showing “there have always been ideas worth fighting for”.’

Sociology Research into Breastfeeding Gets Recognition at Conference

Staff and students from Sociology and Criminology were delighted to get joint 2nd place at the CHAD Symposium, on Thursday 9th November 2017, for their research poster presentation on the Attitudes of Adolescents Towards Breastfeeding.

The poster gave detail on the current research project and outlined the research process for data collection. Two undergraduate students, Joni Wilson and Sarah Johnson, are working on the project and attended the conference. Sarah Johnson said “yesterday was a very eye-opening day for me to understand fully the impact that social research can have on addressing social barriers in society. I met some truly inspirational people who have made me excited to work on this coming project and getting second place solidified the belief that the research I’m taking part in will make a positive difference”. Joni also enthused about the event and stated that she was enjoying gaining invaluable experience by working on the project.

Students, Joni Wilson and Sarah Johnson

‘This research is being carried out for Public Health at the City Council and the Stoke-on-Trent Breastfeeding Steering Group. The project is funded by CHAD (Centre for Health and Development). On a sociological level we are interested in how people respond to breastfeeding. Legislation supports breastfeeding in public and yet breastfeeding mums have reported in the media being harassed for feeding their children in public places. We are exploring what young people think about breastfeeding and how breastfeeding could become more normalised in society here in the UK.

Increasing breastfeeding rates would help to reduce poverty, as breastmilk is free in comparison to the cost of formula milk and affiliated paraphernalia. Breastfeeding also has been proven to improve the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby. Despite the positive impact of breastfeeding the UK have the lowest rates in Europe. We are consulting with young people to find out what needs to happen to change this and to cultivate a breastfeeding culture within Stoke-on-Trent and more widely in the UK. We will also be finding out professionals’ points of view on the ideas that young people have, in order for the Stoke-on-Trent Breastfeeding Steering Group to prioritise future action.’

Students, Jonie Wilson and Sarah Johnson with Senior Lecturer, Sarah Page and Andrea Muirhead (Public Health)

Sarah Page (Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology and principle researcher for this project) said that “I am really excited that we are able to explore this topic and employ students to work on professional research in partnership with colleagues from Public Health from the local authority and health. The experience students get by working on projects like this is fantastic and sets them up for future employment really well. There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that your research makes a real difference in society. Having a research partnership where findings influence how a budget is spent and how work is prioritised in a City, is a great way to link research to improving practice. We are thrilled that our research poster was so well received at the CHAD Symposium and that leaders in the field voted for us.”

If you want to find out more about this research please contact Sarah.Page@staffs.ac.uk

Exploring the Concept of ‘Gender-based violence as a Weapon of War’

PhD student, Charlotte Folkes, attended an insightful lecture about issues of gender-based Violence, including rape, being faced in conflict zones. The lecture, given at the University of Essex, took place on 31sth October. 

The lecture was given by Dr Elaine Storkey, who has a great deal of experience in working in these countries with rape survivors, and within general academia.

Dr Elaine Storkey and Charlotte Folkes

“This week I attended a lecture at University of Essex exploring the concept of ‘Gender-based violence as a Weapon of War’. This was a very insightful talk given by Dr Elaine Storkey who is a well-known academic, broadcaster and author in the field of sexual violence. The session focused on the reasons behind sexual violence in conflict-zones and explored how rape has been used throughout modern history to show dominance, for ethnic cleansing, and as a way of destabilising communities.

Some of the shocking statistics that Dr Storkey shared with the group really emphasised the scale of the issue, including that 49% of the female population in Liberia have been subjected to rape or sexual assault as part of the on-going conflict. Around 200,000 women are known to have been raped during the Congo War, and 50,000 babies have been born as a result of these attacks (however the actual figures are expected to be much higher). It was also stressed that sexual abuse is prevalent in the Western world, as some American states still allow child brides, and UK statistics show up to two women are killed by their partner every week as a result of domestic sexual violence.
This was a very engaging lecture that addressed subjects that are often considered taboo, and it has helped me to consider new areas of research for my PhD project.”

What a Welcom(ing) Week it was to Start the Academic Year

Follow us on Twitter: #proudtobestaffs

The academic year has gotten off to a fantastic, albeit busy, start. Welcome Week saw the arrival of new and returning students and LPF staff were delighted to begin teaching.

LPF first year students were introduced to our staff

 

For our first year students, the week commenced with enrolment and welcome talks from the Vice Chancellor, Liz Barnes, individual subject talks, safety talks from Staffordshire Univeristy Police, the societies and clubs fair and exciting activities – allowing students and staff to get to know one another.

 

 

Students had the opportunity to chat to staff over a warm drink and biscuits and receive one of the departmental hoodies.

Students enjoyed a few activities to ease them into the academic year…

Students linking pipe cleaners together to represent increasing their social capital and networking

Criminal Justice and Forensic Science quiz winners: 1st Rebecca Wheeler & Hannah Blackburn. 3rd place Kathryn Davis.

… and the week ended with a mock court trial at Hanley Court.

The jury taking notes

Teaching is now well underway and our students are working hard and are eager to learn. Returning students are already getting involved with various assements, projects, and mentoring.

Course mentors for Level Four Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Students

Preparing the Crime Scene House for a practical

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Law Society

The Forensic Dive Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is to a wonderful academic year: 2017-2018! #proudtobestaffs

 

 

Graduates of 2017

Proud friends and family members cheered as our – School of Law, Policing and Forensic – graduates received their much-deserved certificates, yesterday afternoon in Trentham gardens.


Guests were not alone in celebrating the success of our graduates. Staff, dressed in their gowns which demonstrate their academic achievement, applauded the achievement of their former students. Speeches were given by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Liz Barnes, our Dean of Law Policing and Forensics, Sean Curley, and the Student Union Vice-President, Swetha Reddy.

Nigel Meadows, Senior Coroner of Manchester City and former LLB Law graduate of Staffordshire University was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Laws. He is also a member of the group for the National Enquiry into suicide and homicide by people with mental illness, a Director of Training for Coroners for the National Judicial College and a representative of the Coroners Society on the Forensic End Users Group.

Kayleigh Sheppard and Alison Davidson, one of Staffordshire University’s own Specialist Skills Technicians, were award their PhDs.

Kayleigh Sheppard, PhD, with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Liz Barnes

Kayleigh’s thesis was titled ‘An evaluation of the use of 360 degree photographic technology in a forensic context’.

“My thesis explored the use of 360 degree photographic technology for recording and presenting crime scenes in the courtroom and sought to validate such technology for use within criminal investigations. In addition, the research sought to adapt the existing camera technology to incorporate lighting systems to allow the detection and visualisation of biological fluids at crime scenes [and] to make such camera technology systems more versatile within criminal investigations.”

Alison Davidson, PhD

Alison’s thesis was titled ‘A study of the Potential Evidential Value of Perfumes, Antiperspirants and Deodorants in Forensic Science’.

“I was interested in whether the aroma chemicals we apply to our skin and clothes every day can tell investigators who we are and what we do, and whether, if a suspect leaves a garment at a crime scene it could be matched to the suspect later by the smelly chemicals on the clothes and skin. As I’m still working in the Analytical Methods Laboratory I’ll be continuing to research the human chemical profile and what it can reveal about our lifestyle.”

 

After the ceremony, celebratory drinks were had and there was no shortage of places to have a celebratory bite to eat. The sun had finally made an appearance and many took the opportunity of taking momentous photos in the scenic grounds of Trentham. The Staffordshire University merchandise also proved a great success.

 

 

 

Overall it was wonderful day and university staff and current student ambassadors enjoyed sharing the day. Congratulations graduates of Law, Policing and Forensics!

GradEx 2017

This is the third year of the GradEx show and the Forensics, Policing and Criminal Investigation team submitted over sixty entrants. It took three rooms to hold them. They take up 8 pages in the catalogue.

The day began with a visit from the Mayor 

 

and a welcome from the Grad Ex team, 

 

 

then it was on to meet the judges…

It’s not possible to mention all the papers, but highlights include Mia Jane’s Abbott’s work examining the Amnesty Box at music festivals for “legal highs”, Natalie Atkinson’s project on the persistence of bodily fluids after immersion, which will provide evidence in rape trials. Jake Bayliss was also working on persistence of fibres, this time comparing the effects of still water to moving water (in the river Trent) over a six week period. Jessica Crossland looked at the evidential value of tatoos both permanent and temporary and the effect of fire and chemical burning on discolouration.  Josh Hill explored the scatter pattern of microparticles from gunshots, and Tim Mussellwhite explored the small drones by the police and crime investigation authorities.Jessica Wakefield-Baugh revisted Oswiecim (Auschwitz) to remap the charted graves and uncover new ones.

The winners were Elli Savari, MSci Investigation supervised by Laura Walton-Williams and Lance Malcolm, supervised by David Flatman-Fairs.

 

 

 

 

 

Overall a fantastic day. Thank you in particular to Laura Walton-Williams and Juliet Prince for all their work.

 

 

Research Impact: ‘Effective Strategies to Combat Sexual Violence’

One of the things we all do is to seek to change the world…

Dr Laura Walton-Williams was invited to speak at the Westminster Briefing’s conference, ‘Confronting Sexual Violence: Reducing Offending and Supporting Victims’, which was held in Victoria, London on Wednesday 10th May 2017.  She presented on ‘Effective Strategies to Combat Sexual Violence’ alongside Marcia Bravo, Operations Manager for Victim Support.  Laura’s presentation examined sexual violence prevention strategies, evidence recovery in sexual violence cases, lessons learnt from survivors and strategies for repairing the harm, as well as update on the national picture of historic sex crimes.

Laura presented to an audience of approximately 30 high ranking representatives from Police Forces, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Police and Crime Commissioners Office, City & County Councils and Victim Support Organisations. A report of the proceedings of this meeting will be submitted to Parliament to inform future policies in tackling Sexual Violence.

 

Also presenting were Kim Doyle & Stephanie Reardon (Joint Chief Executives for Lime Culture CIC), Dr Keiran McCarten (Associate Professor in Criminology, UWE Bristol), Rosalyn Boyce (Why Me? Ambassador & Restorative Justice Advicate) and Ady Lowe (Independent Sexual Violonce Adviser, Victim Support).