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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

Since 1996 the UoA has grown considerably in size and activity and has deepened its contribution to scholarly work in three areas: security, risk and health and safety management; crime and criminal justice; policing and social justice. The unifying theme is how personal conflict may be reduced and how safety, security and justice can be promoted. We try to bring new approaches to these questions, using theories and methods from the study of social policy and administration, criminology and related disciplines. Our work has broadened the focus of traditional social policy and criminology, has contributed to public and professional debates, and has helped to develop a greater international comparative dimension. The evidence outlined in RA5 and RA6 shows the high esteem in which our work is held among academic, policy making and practitioner communities in the UK and abroad.

Research Structure and Environment
Individual and collective studies are encouraged, ranging from library-based projects to large-scale empirical work. Staff work with user communities, including criminal justice agencies, police, voluntary and community groups, private security, the media, and government bodies at local, national and international levels, disseminating findings widely and seeking to influence policy and practice. Indeed, a notable feature of the UoA is the scale and strength of collaborative links, in Britain and overseas.

a) Research groupings: There are three research groupings for the purposes of managing research and promoting collaboration, although some staff work mainly on their own and others are active in more than one group. There is only space in this account to consider staff currently in post (March 2001). The Security, Risk, and Health and Safety Management group (Mr. Beck, Dr Bennett, Dr Broderick, Dr Fuller, Dr Gill (Professor from 1 October 2001), Mr Hart, Mr Livingstone, Dr Vassie, Mr Willis) has established a strong international reputation and has played a major role in developing this new area of academic interest. Through a series of studies it has broadened traditional criminology and social policy to include the management of security and safety in the private as well as the public sector.

Gill’s study of armed robbery built on his earlier work, with convicted shoplifters and commercial burglars, and interviews with 341 convicted robbers enabled him to analyse conventional prevention strategies and to revise and develop the situational crime prevention model. Gill, Hart and Willis are investigating the extent and nature of crime on petrol station forecourts. The study is supported by the oil companies and involves an unusual amount of co-operation between them. It has shown that forecourt crime is a common and costly problem for staff, customers and the local community and the findings are helping retailers to devise preventive measures and to gain greater support from local police forces, who the study has found often show little interest in this type of crime. Gill’s study of the effectiveness of CCTV was one of the first independent evaluations to adopt the realist methodology and specifically to use the Context, Mechanism and Outcome (CMO) method. It has led to some rethinking of this method and has also resulted in re-evaluation of the circumstances in which CCTV is likely to function most effectively. Gill and Hart undertook the first major study of British private investigators and reported that some investigators offer highly specialised skills which are superior to those of the police, although issues of accountability and ethics, as well as rivalry and suspicion, often stand in the way of these being used effectively. Hart has also been undertaking collaborative research into crime prevention with the Gong An University in Beijing, funded by the British Council. Beck, Gill and Willis’s studies of violence at work have revealed that assaults and verbal abuse on staff are much more common than realised but are frequently not reported, not least because staff are concerned that they may be held responsible for their own victimisation. The research was conducted in close collaboration with several major companies which have revised training and procedures and developed more effective risk assessment. The work has resulted in a more sensitive management approach and greater support and protection for staff.

The group’s research also includes risk and disasters and health and safety. Highlights include Bennett’s empirical research into aviation risk and disasters, focusing on social interactions on the flight deck. Using interviews and participant observation, this research is leading to a greater understanding of flight safety. The work draws on and develops the sub-discipline of industrial sociology and the findings are being taken up and applied by the sponsoring airlines. Broderick’s research applies theories of risk management to South Africa’s position on peacekeeping and conflict resolution on the African continent. He is also undertaking analysis of US deterrence strategies in the Persian Gulf region and is showing how theories of deterrence may be used for controlling the processes of intra-war escalation and the management of risk. Both of these projects are contributing to academic analysis and practical policy. The work of Fuller and Vassie shows how practical solutions to health and safety issues can be developed by applying economic models and management theory. Fuller has developed cost-benefit analyses of injury prevention strategies in professional football and FIFA, the world body for football, and its Medical Assessment and Research Centre are working with him on practical measures to reduce injuries in the sport. Fuller has also been working with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Vassie has undertaken research into quality management systems and how they can be used to develop health and safety continuous improvement programmes through involvement of employees. This integrated approach has been adopted by several industrial organisations and forms the basis of Vassie’s work as an advisor on commercial training programmes.

The Crime and Criminal Justice group (Dr Barberet, Professor Benyon, Dr Deadman, Dr Skinner, Dr Westmarland, Ms Wilkinson) is undertaking research into various dimensions of gender, crime, policing and community safety. Skinner, Barberet and Westmarland are working with Kelly (University of North London) on a Home Office-funded study of sexual assault referral centres and rape cases. The interim report shows that the patterns of reporting and attrition in cases of rape are significantly different across the UK, and in who accesses services and the responses they receive. The report also highlights ways to increase access by women from minority groups. The findings are being used in service provision and training for both statutory and voluntary sector services across the UK. The work of Skinner et al is at the forefront of the critical reassessment of work in victimology, particularly that concerned with sexual and domestic violence. Skinner’s study of domestic violence and mental health, in collaboration with Leicestershire Health Authority, is being used by Leicester Domestic Violence Action Group and Leicester City Health Action Zone to develop their policies and procedures. This research builds on her work which made a major contribution to the debate on feminist strategic action around violence against women, and provided the basis for a new non-confrontational, multi-agency, response to service provision, education and campaigning. Barberet has undertaken studies of domestic and sexual violence in Spain, including the first major study of the extent of domestic violence and support for victims, funded by the Spanish government. Her work generated new data and assisted in improving services for victims. She has also conducted research into the victimisation of rural and urban prostitutes in Spain, and into women’s prisons, both funded by the Spanish Women’s Institute. This work is being used in campaigns to improve the Spanish criminal justice system. Westmarland’s ESRC-funded research into women in the police service has led to significant changes in equal opportunities practice and training in a number of forces. It was the first such study of gender discrimination in the UK police and she has expanded this work to embrace police ethics and human rights, and police reactions to training on these issues. She serves as an adviser to the ACPO ethics committee and is consulted by police forces across the country on equal opportunity issues and training in non-discriminatory practices.

Wilkinson, and former colleague Hucklesby, have undertaken research into substance abuse, including a major study of drug misuse in prisons, funded by the Prison Service. This required the refinement and application of a variety of methods to gather data which were previously unavailable. Wilkinson’s investigation into the use of drugs and alcohol amongst children in Nottingham necessitated the development of research instruments for collecting sensitive data from children as young as 10 years. The findings have provided the basis of a new training package for prison officers and youth offending teams. Deadman was one of the first economists to examine the statistical relationship between economic trends and levels of crime and his work on forecasting trends in recorded crime is being used by the Home Office. He has modelled crime and the business cycle and crime and unemployment, using intervention analysis to examine the relationships between the variables. He is currently working on another project commissioned by the Home Office forecasting different types of property crime, which will be used to inform national crime reduction strategies. Deadman’s work is recognised as making a significant contribution to the development of more effective econometric and time series forecasting, and better modelling of crime trends. Benyon, and former colleague Edwards, conducted research into local governance, crime prevention and community safety partnerships, funded by the ESRC. This work has contributed to theories of local governance and policy network analysis, as well as to greater understanding of why some community safety partnerships function more effectively than others. The research has influenced practice as a result of publications and presentations, and through membership of the Home Office Community Safety Curriculum Group. Benyon also undertook a major project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which examined the control of firearms in countries of the European Union. This work produced new data on the use of firearms, and on gun-control regimes, in different EU countries and made a significant contribution to the continuing debate in Britain, through publications, conferences and evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, in front of which Benyon answered oral questions in December 1999.

The Policing and Social Justice group (Mr Beck, Professor Benyon, Mr Garland, Dr King, Dr Owusu-Bempah, Dr Rowe, Dr Silke, Mr Willis) has an international reputation for its research into European police co-operation and cross-border crime, the EU third pillar and associated justice and home affairs issues. The research has produced much new information, for example about different types of cross-border crime and various formal and informal networks between specialist law enforcement officers. To explain the latter, Benyon, Beck and Willis adapted the notion of epistemic communities, and they also developed a new explanatory framework to analyse different forms of cross-border co-operation. Associated research includes Benyon and King’s work on border controls and migration, funded by the CEC, work on transnational organised crime, supported by the ESRC, and King’s EU-supported cross-national study of police reform, which resulted in a special issue of Innovation: The European Journal of the Social Sciences on ‘Policing Social Transition’ edited by King in 1998. The group’s research has advanced knowledge about transnational crime, and has increased understanding of the practicalities of, and obstacles to, international co-operation on law enforcement and related matters. Our work has helped to illuminate key questions such as accountability, control and effectiveness of police organisations, and human rights issues including those associated with migration and border policing. The research findings have been used by Interpol and Europol, the CEC, NCIS and the Home Office, and also by Liberty and Justice.

The results of this work have fed into other projects, such as Beck’s research into community policing in Ukraine (FCO £238,000), and King’s investigation of drug trafficking in central Europe (EU: £165,000). The group has concentrated much of its research effort on examining the effects of relatively rapid economic, social and political change on crime, policing and criminal justice in various countries. Key studies include King’s research into policing change in central Europe (particularly Hungary and Lithuania), funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Silke’s highly-regarded research into paramilitary vigilantism, and the work of Benyon, Rowe and Willis into civilian oversight of the police, victim support, and policing and crime prevention in South Africa (DfID: £97,000). These studies are expanding understanding of policing, crime and justice in transitional societies – an under-researched area of growing international interest, and one to which our research is making important theoretical and empirical contributions. Many of these projects involve key personnel and organisations in the countries under study and are influencing the development of social policy in the fields of public safety, policing and human rights. Beck’s team is undertaking several projects in Russia and Ukraine, applying different concepts and theories to crime prevention and police practice. One project is examining the applicability of theoretical models of repeat victimisation and crime prevention in contrasting social and economic settings. A study of police corruption in Russia is investigating the effects of the social and political upheaval following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the extent to which such behaviour is culturally determined. Another project is studying the reform of police management in Ukraine (FCO: £204k) and is looking at the difficulties experienced in the transition from the Soviet system to one claiming accountability, transparency and the protection of human rights. This is fascinating work, the outputs of which are of international significance in developing refined instruments for data collection, advancing knowledge, and influencing policy and administration.

The group has also established a good reputation for its work into racial discrimination and disadvantage. Benyon, Garland and Rowe’s large-scale investigation of the experiences, needs and opinions of African-Caribbean people in Leicestershire (DTI/local authorities: £165,000) involved close collaboration with members of the black community. They collected comprehensive data on the experiences of African-Caribbean people, using a wide variety of methods, and the project culminated in a major publication – African Caribbean People in Leicestershire: Final Report – and a separate report entitled Education Matters, both of which continue to influence developments in the city, and further afield. Associated work by Owusu-Bempah has influenced thinking on racism, children and families. His research challenges the limitations of Eurocentric psychological perspective and highlights the processes by which black children and family structures may be marginalised and problematised. His research into socio-genealogical connectedness and psycho-social development has informed government policy, including a Department of Health (2000) guide on assessing children in need. Beck’s research into the use of identity cards in Europe reported the adverse effects on relations between the police and ethnic minority groups in various EU countries. This work was taken up by the Home Office, the Home Affairs Committee and the police service. Garland and Rowe’s studies of policing, racism and football have assisted in developing a more sophisticated understanding of the concept of anti-racism and how it can be applied in practice. Further work into racism and xenophobia in Europe, and into racial discrimination and policing, led to the award of a three-year contract to Rowe, Garland and Benyon to study policing and ethnic minorities, following the report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (Home Office: £143,000). The study began in 2000 and has already produced recommendations for both police and community groups. The research is monitoring and assessing training of officers, investigating police relations with ethnic minority communities and how and why they vary, and is also contributing to a better understanding of how best to conduct evaluation research.

b) Promoting research: Responsibility for research leadership lies with the Director of the Scarman Centre and the co-ordinator of each group. Priorities are set out in the annual plan, and staff discuss their own targets at annual appraisals and with their mentors. Research is an item at monthly staff meetings and group meetings, and active support is offered to staff in a variety of other ways, for example, with regular study leave (introduced in 1999), advice on applications from the University’s Research Office, and the award of University research grants, which a number of staff have received (e.g. Garland, Horrocks, Rowe, Silke, Skinner). Alongside leadership, assistance and advice we seek to promote a strong spirit of teamwork by encouraging younger members of staff, including research assistants, to play a full role in discussions and decision making. All the full-time students in the UoA are postgraduates and there are currently 77 full-time and 9 part-time students on the taught Masters’ courses, and 632 students from 53 countries on the distance-learning courses. This facilitates the recruitment of good PhD students and since 1996, eight students have been awarded their doctorates with another 4 registered for M.Phil. degrees receiving their awards. MA/MSc and M.Phil./Ph.D. students make a major contribution to the research culture and to our investigations. Just as the research programme underpins postgraduate studies so, conversely, the ideas and understanding of researchers are advanced by discussion and criticism in seminars, tutorials and supervisions. In-house research and PhD seminars are supplemented by presentations from visiting academics. The regular Criminal Justice Seminar involves colleagues from law, social work, economics and sociology. Our research culture is collegiate, supportive, vibrant and dynamic.

c) Infrastructure and facilities: The UoA provides a first-rate environment in which to undertake advanced study and research. All staff have their own networked personal computers and there is also a fully-networked well-equipped computer laboratory. The University Library has excellent holdings in relevant specialisms and there is a fully computerised Library and Resource Unit in the Scarman Centre which contains three extensive archives – one on public disorder in the UK; another specialist archive on terrorism; the third on race and ethnic relations in the UK, donated by Dr Valerie Marett. There is also a strong collection on European crime and policing. Our students are also entitled to use other specialist libraries, such as that at the Police Staff College at Bramshill. All research students undertake comprehensive specialist training in social research methodology. Full-time PhD students each have their own desk and other facilities and their progress is overseen by appointed supervisors, all of whom receive training, and by a Thesis Committee. All our research students are encouraged to participate fully in the intellectual and social life of the UoA.

d) Supporting interdisciplinary and collaborative research: Staff are drawn from several different disciplines, including criminology, social policy and administration, politics and policy studies, psychology, sociology, and socio-legal studies and, consequently, much of our research has an interdisciplinary approach. This is of benefit in bringing the ideas, theories and methods from different disciplines to our work. We strongly support research partnerships with other universities where appropriate – one example is the major project, evaluating burglary reduction projects, involving ourselves and colleagues from Keele and Manchester universities (Home Office: £1.1 million). Collaboration is promoted by the Development Manager, funded under the HEROBC scheme, who has particular responsibility for developing links with business and community organisations. Interdisciplinary and collaborative studies are also facilitated by our formal signed agreements with major academic institutions overseas, in Beijing, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Moscow, New York, Omsk and Vancouver. We also have a formal signed link with the National Operations Faculty at the Police Staff College, Bramshill. Collaborative research is furthered as a result of participation by staff in national research networks, involving practitioners as well as researchers – examples include ESRC seminar series on Policing and Public Disorder and on Transnational Organised Crime, the Violence and Women Study Group, and the PSA’s specialist group on Policing, Justice and Democracy, of which Garland and Westmarland are convenors.


Collaboration with practitioners and service users
Wherever possible and appropriate, research collaboration with user-communities is favoured, and some links are mentioned in RA6 under ‘policy advice’ and ‘impact of research’. User-communities are strongly represented amongst our student population which also promotes collaboration. A selection of examples includes our work with the police service, through ACPO, NCIS and other groups, with all forces contributing data to various research projects in the last few years, while we also work with community and ethnic minority groups, for example on the study of African Caribbean people in Leicestershire and on the current three-year national study of ethnic minorities and policing. In security, risk and health and safety management research staff have worked closely with bodies such as the British Retail Consortium, Risk and Security Management Forum, Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Emergency Planning College, FIFA and the IOC, and several MPs, and we have excellent research contacts with a number of national companies. Crime and criminal justice staff have collaborated on research with the prison service, NACRO, Penal Affairs Consortium, Prison Reform Trust and Crime Concern and, at the local level, with victim support groups and residents’ groups such as the Highfields Forum in Leicester and the Broxtowe Forum in Nottingham. In policing and social justice, examples of groups with whom research collaboration has taken place include anti-racist, minority rights and civil liberties groups, including Justice and Liberty, Europol, Interpol, Customs and Excise, and IHESI (Paris).

Dissemination of findings
Considerable efforts are made to disseminate research findings and recommendations to user communities, as well as fellow researchers, in the UK and abroad. A Newsletter is produced three times each year with 10,000 copies distributed to a wide variety of organisations and groups. The UoA also produces a series of occasional papers, 24 of which have so far been published, and copies are sent to practitioners, researchers and interested groups. Staff frequently make presentations on their research at national and international events – recent examples include Westmarland’s address to the National Conference of Senior Women Police Officers, King’s paper in Budapest on his EU research into drug-trafficking. Benyon’s paper at the Local Government Association’s 2000 Conference, and Fuller’s presentation to the FIFA Sports Medical conference. Our own programme of conferences and seminars is intended to involve policy makers and practitioners as well as researchers. Since 1996, 17 such conferences have attracted nearly 2000 people – they have focused on research-related issues, such as violence at work, racism, zero-tolerance policing, safety in schools, control of firearms, and community safety. Six meetings of an ESRC research seminar series on Transnational Organised Crime have also taken place. Conferences, editorships, and links with practitioners and voluntary groups are mentioned further In RA6.

Staffing policy
The research activities of staff are strongly supported, by mentoring, appraisals, in-house training, study leave and administrative support. One member of staff is on a six-month research sabbatical at any one time. Budgets are set aside for staff to attend conferences, seminars, training courses, and workshops, in the UK and abroad, with relatively generous support specifically earmarked for younger colleagues. The emphasis on training and staff support resulted in an Investor in People Award in 2000. Emphasis is placed on retaining good researchers wherever possible, and bridging funds are available to assist. Our policy is to implement the contract researchers’ concordat and so, for example, each researcher has a designated mentor, whose role is the provision of on-going support and career guidance. In recent years several researchers have moved to good, related jobs, for example with the BBC (Koci) and Crime Concern (Broadhurst), while four of the current lecturing staff were formerly research assistants (Beck, Hart, Livingstone, Rowe).

Additional observations
a) Publications in RA2
: The items in the RA2 submission have been chosen to represent the best work of the individual concerned, but we have also tried to choose items which indicate the variety of each person’s research activities and interests. The selection in RA2 shows the range as well as the depth of our output, including some major published reports.

b) External research support: The growth and success of the UoA has been assisted by the amount of research funding raised since 1996. As shown in RA4, income received during the period amounted to £1,013,660. All these grants have been awarded after a competitive process, usually involving peer review. A total of 22 projects have been funded – with four of the grants over £100,000, four more over £50,000, and ten over £30,000. Support has come from a variety of sources including the ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, Leverhulme Trust, local authorities, Home Office, DfID, FCO, DTI, European Commission, and private-sector companies. The largest single source of research funding (33%) has been UK central and local government, with four awards from the FCO and DfID, two from the Home Office and smaller awards from local authorities and police forces. The British Council has been involved in funding six projects, with a total of £41,509 (4%) of research income from overseas and £32,671 (3.2%) from the ESRC. Some 31% of our funding has come from UK businesses and corporations, with around 17.5% from UK charities and a further 11% from the European Union.

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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