Law Graduates Join Collaborative Research Project at HMP Stafford

In July 2017, two former students from the Law Department were invited to conduct research for the Governor at HMP Stafford. Tawney Bennett and Amber Mapledoram both graduated with a first class law degree in July. The two aspiring criminologists were invited to carry out research about complaints made by prisoners at HMP Stafford.


Tawney and Amber went through the prison officer induction process and were issued with their own set of keys.

Following the completion of our final year exams, Amber and I were selected to take part in a collaborative research and analysis project with HMP Stafford. We were asked by the governor to provide an independent analysis of the current prisoner complaints system and offer recommendations on how it can be improved. On completion, the report will be published for both staff and prisoners to have access to our findings. Further to this, we are currently undertaking a second research project on behalf of the deputy prison governor, which remains confidential at this time.



Amber Mapledoram

After undergoing a vigorous vetting check, we obtained the iconic prison guard accessories, the belt and chain used to draw a set of keys. This gave us unrestricted access to the prison estate to begin our research.

We began by familiarising ourselves with the facilities, touring the wings and speaking to the prison staff. Following this we moved onto the data collation and analysis, coding and analysing in excess of 1700 prisoner complaints. We also compiled a questionnaire for residents of the prison to complete, in order to provide us with a general overview of how the prisoners felt about the complaints process. Our next step in our research is to conduct intensive interviews with a small sample of inmates, in order to explore their perspectives in greater depth.

Tawney Bennett

Amber and I have had the privilege of working closely with both the governor and deputy governor of HMP Stafford, accessing confidential information that is inaccessible to the general public. An incredibly eye-opening experience for any lay person, the opportunity has heightened our interest in the field of prisons and punishment and further enhanced our researching skills ready for progression onto further post-graduate study. We have been given an unprecedented insight into the prison estate and we hope to continue our partnership with HMP Stafford on many more research projects in the near future.

Tawney Bennett, LLB

A Staffordshire University Law Graduate – What next?

“It is this work ethic and desire to explore opportunities that I am grateful to Staffordshire University for. The ambition was always inside me, it just needed nurturing and encouraging”

“Grades do matter of course, but what employers want to see and want to employ is a person” – Llloyd Myatt.

It is all a blur. At least, this is what I remember: nervously sitting there at 08:59am, waiting for my results somewhere in June 2016, then graduating in July and starting my Masters in September; it really does happen so fast.

At this moment in time, I am currently studying my Masters, which is an LLM in International Law at Keele University. It may be so close geographically to Staffordshire University, but they could not be further apart from their teaching style, approach and research. The different experiences have been a great benefit and my studies will only become richer from it. It is what I will carry with me when I graduate in January 2019.

Studying part-time is giving myself the opportunity to participate in other things, such as Citizens Advice, marathon running and preparing my PhD applications. My PhD will concern the modern doctrine of pre-emptive force and whether it has any legal basis under International Law. This is something modern and exciting that I cannot wait to explore further at PhD level. With this being said, a PhD is a bold prospect as you leave the general studies of law to something specific that interests you; you are likely to contribute to research in your field of interest.

It is this work ethic and desire to explore opportunities that I am grateful to Staffordshire University for. The ambition was always inside me, it just needed nurturing and encouraging. This is exactly what the lecturers did for me: they inspired me and personally wanted me to achieve. They also pushed me to go the extra mile to make myself not only the graduate that I wanted to be, but also the person I wanted to be. Getting involved in the competitions and activities during my time at Staffordshire University enabled me to network, to gain contacts and, most importantly, to develop as a person.

It is this experience that is my advice for anyone currently studying at Staffordshire University or who has just graduated. Enjoy your time, do everything that you can, no matter how silly it may sound or be. I (including a few friends) were involved in the gardening society, played five-a-side and helped with the video for the Legal Advice Clinic.

You can never do enough, as there is always more that you can put in. Grades do matter of course, but what employers want to see and want to employ is a person. A person who has experienced everything, whether it be working serving coffee, raising money for charity or even taking a gap from education to raise children, work full-time or to even travel the world.

Current students, graduates and anyone else concerned, do as much as you can. Make yourself known, build up your CV and develop yourself into the person you decide to be. Whether this be in legal practice, academia, business, human resources, real estate or finance, management or even producing. Your degree is the key to so much, it is you that has to open that door.

The best of luck.

Lloyd Myatt LLB (Hons)
LLM Student in International Law

LLB (Fast Track) Goes to Court

Students said the trip was ‘practical’, ‘informative’, ‘well-organised’ and provided them with ‘new information regarding roles, qualifications and who does what in the lengthy process’.

On 14th June 2017, a group of fast track LLB students from Staffordshire University visited Manchester on an organised court visit.

In the morning, they visited Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court. They were met by Kirsty Pomfret (Court Staff Team Leader) and Mr Larry Collier, who is the Chairman of the Bench of Greater Manchester. The students were told about the number and type of cases that were heard at the court each week and about the role and qualities of a lay magistrate.

They then had the opportunity to observe proceedings in court. They observed 3 Lay Magistrates in the Domestic Violence court and District Judge Goozée in the “Guilty Anticipated Plea” court. The students had the opportunity to watch a number of first appearances, case management hearings and sentences. They were able to observe different styles of advocacy and approaches to plea in mitigation. They also had the opportunity to talk to the court staff, such as the court clerk and the court usher.

~’Excellent day out for anyone who is considering becoming a barrister or solictor. It gives you insight about the real world of law and lawyers’~

Following the morning session, District Judge Goozée spoke to the students and offered advice to the aspiring lawyers. He provided an interesting insight into his role and noted factors such as the importance of body language within the courtroom.

‘It encouraged me to think about future employment in court’

In the afternoon, the students visited the Manchester Civil Justice Centre. The Supervising Usher, Janet Ogden, greeted the group and provided some interesting facts about the court building and the history of the profession. They were then taken into a large courtroom to meet the designated civil judge, His Honour Judge Gore QC. HHJ Gore QC explained the type of cases that he heard and emphasised the importance of good preparation by the advocates.

~’Great for making connections’ ~

Finally, the students had the opportunity to observe a floating fast track trial. Unfortunately, the hearing was adjourned due to various issues, including the lack of court time. However, the barrister for the second Defendant, Richard Livingston from Kings Chambers, was kind enough to speak to the students afterwards. He set out the facts of the case and explained the very interesting legal point that had arisen. He also took the time to answer questions about being a barrister and the skills required to succeed.

‘Larry Collier (Magistrate) has emailed me twice with useful information’

Overall, this was a fantastic opportunity for the students to see the law that they were studying in action. It also allowed them to reflect upon their own career aspirations and employability.

~‘The day out was great for team building amongst us students’~




Staffordshire University would like to thank all of the court staff and practitioners who gave up their time to share their knowledge and experiences. In particular, we would like to thank Kirsty Pomfret (Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court Team Leader) and Jacqueline Healy (Operations Manager, Manchester Civil Justice Centre) for coordinating the visit.