Theme two: Governance, Policing and Penality

Informed by critical criminological theory, research under this theme aims to explore, reflectively engage with and challenge key issues in the governance of crime and penality and how criminal justice agencies respond to such issues. This research encapsulates the activities of all stakeholders in the criminal justice process, at every level of national and local government, including policy creation and its subsequent implementation and enforcement by public and third sector organisations such as the police, the law courts, victim support agencies, youth offending teams, community rehabilitation agencies and the National Offender Management Service. 

Research projects undertaken by the Governance, Policing and Penality group place much emphasis on ensuring that their findings have an impact on policy and practice, foster collaborative partnerships with criminal justice agencies and networks and are of benefit to all participants in criminal justice settings – victims, offenders, policy makers, practitioners and the wider community.

Theme coordinator: Dr Iain Channing

Areas of research expertise

  • Policing
  • Crime prevention and community safety
  • Youth criminology and youth justice
  • Victim support and victim services
  • Drugs policy and treatment
  • Community sanctions
  • Desistance
  • Restorative Justice
  • Community Justice
  • Imprisonment


  • Dr Jill Annison – historical development of the probation service; interventions with adult offenders within prison and in the community; community rehabilitation; recent changes brought about by the Transforming Rehabilitation programme
  • Dr Iain Channing – history of crime and policing; public order law, public protest and political activism; police discretion
  • Dr Dan Gilling – community safety; neighbourhood policing; the rural governance of crime
  • Dr Patricia Gray – youth justice; comparative youth justice; penality and the governance of youth crime; women’s imprisonment; restorative youth justice
  • Dr Lesley Simmonds – victim services and the changing face of service provision; victim engagement with restorative justice.
  • Dr Gareth Addidle – policing; community safety; governance of crime; restorative justice
  • Thomas Raymen – design and governance of public and private space; private security and policing; young people, deviance, and leisure in urban space
  • Dr Gisella Hanley Santos – community justice and problem solving courts.

Current and recent research projects

Problem-Solving in Plymouth Community Justice Court
This research explored the operation and effectiveness of Plymouth’s Community Justice Court. Key to the working of this court is helping low-risk offenders address their underlying issues through the use of problem-solving. By developing a conceptual model of the trajectory of the offender through the stages of the community justice court process, the research has identified the key junctures that can facilitate or hinder a problem-solving approach within the court setting. Working closely with local stakeholders, these findings have been disseminated through various forums including a day-long symposium and three training events. This research was funded by the ESRC.

The Marketisation of Victim Services
This research explores the impact of local commissioning of victim services. The move to local commissioning is part of the government’s (continuing) attempts to marketise criminal justice services, and with this, victim services. This represents a shift away from the centralised provision of victim services via Victim Support, which in 2008 became a single national charity funded largely by the Ministry of Justice, such that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will from 2015 commission services in each police area across England and Wales. This raises the issue of ‘politics’ entering into which services will be funded and where, given that PCCs are accountable to the electorate. It also raises several issues for victim services in terms of the outcome measured approach to what in effect constitutes success.

The Police and Public Order
This research traverses the disciplines of criminology, history and law and utilises a range of different sources which include case law, legislation, Parliamentary debates, newspaper reports, archival material from the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Cabinet, as well as other inquiries, reports and publications from a range of different groups. It has led to the publication of The Police and the Expansion of Public Order Law 1829-2014 (Routledge: 2015) and is currently creating links with the East Midlands Operational Support Services regarding public order policing strategies in that area. 


Policing, Community Planning and Community Safety
This research explores the implementation of community planning and associated community safety policies within a case study area of the Strathclyde Police. The processes of partnership working and community engagement are central to this approach. Meta-bureaucracy has been used to describe the partnership’s activities and linkage to national outcomes. Issues of voice, leadership and pragmatic culture were all important findings for the implementation of community planning in practice. However, an implementation gap was identified between the rhetoric and lived experience of those entrusted to deliver these policy goals.

Shifting Sands and the Governance of Youth Crime
This research explores the current challenges to youth justice which have emerged in response to recent changes in the problematisation of youth crime and conceptualisations of policy, practice and governance in relation to diversion, social exclusion, restorative justice, deinstitutionalisation and the age of criminal responsibility.

Rural Crime Governance  
This research explores the nature and impact of recent initiatives to build the capacity and effectiveness of structures of rural crime governance in England and Wales.

Comparative Youth Justice
This research explores the extent to which Baltic States such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as former Soviet satellites comply with the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in their use of youth custody. 

Rehabilitative Provision for Women Offenders in an Age of Austerity
This research focuses on the perceptions of women offenders in prison and upon their release from custody of the availability and quality of rehabilitative services to support them to stop offending and resettle into mainstream community life. While the research will focus on the situation in Cornwall, the findings will be interpreted within the context of national data. This research is being conducted in partnership with WRSAC and is funded by the OPCC, VSF Cornwall and the Lankelly Chase Foundation.