Prison cell

People will get the chance to learn about life in prison and gain an insight into the workings of the law and criminal justice system as part of an event designed to challenge public misperceptions surrounding crime and punishment.

Plymouth University and Plymouth City Council are working together to organise the event as part of the Economic Social and Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

Through a range of activities it will aim to provide opportunities for the public, particularly young people, to engage with academic research and see how it can improve community life and contribute to promoting fairness and justice.

The event is being coordinated by Dr Patricia Gray, Associate Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Professor Kim Stevenson, Professor of Socio Legal History in the School of Law and Criminal Justice at Plymouth University.

Dr Gray said:

“With a strong record in social science research and social entrepreneurship, Plymouth University is committed to promoting awareness and demonstrating how such research influences our lives. We also have a strong focus on widening participation, aiming to encourage under-represented groups into higher education. Challenging popular misconceptions of the law and criminal justice processes is one of the key ways in which our research can influence public thinking at all levels of the community and embed social justice into our daily lives.”

The event, being held at Plymouth Central Library in partnership with the City Council’s library service, will take the form of an interactive poster exhibition on 5 November between 2-5pm.

18 posters will illustrate the research activities of the School of Law and Criminal Justice, and how they address legal and criminological issues of core concern to the community.

The issues covered will include difficulties in accessing the law and legal advice for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, homelessness, the rights and interests of victims, challenging hate crime, rehabilitating offenders, community payback schemes for young offenders and immigration.

Visitors will have the opportunity to watch cartoons and videos about life inside prison, take part in detective quizzes and a murder mystery game, and pose questions to improve their understanding of the issues, while a downloadable free app – using augmented reality – will allow people to freely download the poster images onto mobile devices. 

Chris Goddard, the Council’s library service manager, said:

“We’re really pleased to be supporting this project and encouraging people to find out more about issues around crime and the law. Crime novels are among the most popular types of fiction but we have lots of other exciting and interesting resources to browse, including the Hangman Diaries and Old Bailey court reports, which show how crimes were dealt with in the past and the punishments criminals faced. Young people from local schools will also be getting a chance to learn about the role of modern day policing and the challenges that come with the job from a serving detective.”

The event is one of several being arranged by the University’s Faculty of Business as part of the Festival of Social Science, all of them dedicated to translating academic research to a wide audience and engaging participants from across Devon and Cornwall.

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