Theme three: Vulnerability, Criminalisation and Inequality

Research under this theme aims to highlight and examine why particular identities and social groups experience criminalisation, exclusion, hate crime, marginalisation and disproportionate rates of victimisation. Our research interrogates the social and institutional processes that lie behind these experiences with the aim of making a difference to those that live within the context of inequality, marginalisation and criminalisation as part of their everyday lives. A key goal for our research is to inform practitioners and institutions as to how policy and practice can be improved upon.

Research conducted within the Vulnerability, Criminalisation and Inequality group aims to make an impact on communities, raise social and public awareness, inform policy and practice and contribute to the wider academic community in order to reduce the risks and impact of vulnerability, marginalisation, criminalisation and inequality.

Theme coordinator: Dr Chris Pac-Soo

Areas of research expertise

  • Hate crime
  • Criminalisation and social exclusion of young people who offend
  • Sexual violence, gender and victimisation
  • Crime, race, ethnicity, gender and intersectionality.


  • Dr Jill Annison – women and criminal justice; gender and organisational change
  • Dr Sharon Beckett –  workplace violence; women as victims of workplace violence
  • Dr Patricia Gray – youth justice, risk and social exclusion; ‘child-friendly’ rights frameworks; gender and criminal justice issues
  • Dr Zoë James – Gypsy, Traveller and Roma issues; ‘policing’ social exclusion; managing hate and diversity in complex communities
  • Dr Chris Pac-Soo – ‘race’, ethnicity, identity and policing; marginalised groups; hate crime
  • Dr Lesley Simmonds – victims of crime; vulnerable socially excluded groups; hate crime; victims of sexual violence
  • Dr Gisella Hanley Santos – street children and young offenders in Brazil; drug policies and interventions; desistance and ‘rehabilitation’; transition to adulthood
  • Dr Oliver Smith – gendered victimisation in the night time economy.

Current and recent research projects:

Foreign National Workers in the Night Time Economy: An examination of vulnerability, violence and identity
This research explores the lived experiences of foreign nationals in the NTE who work as taxi drivers and in fast food outlets. Recent work on hate crime has drawn attention to the vulnerability of these workers to marginalisation, victimisation and criminalisation.

Restorative Youth Justice in Action: Rediscovering its roots in innovative and socially just practice
This research explores the tensions and possibilities underlying the current interest in the notion of restorative justice and how they are resolved and negotiated by key stakeholders in the North East and South West of England in diversionary schemes at the pre-sentencing stage in youth justice settings. The research highlights the experiences of marginalisation, inequality and criminalisation of young people who offend.

Attrition from the Perspective of the Police and Victims of Serious Sexual Offences
This research explores the factors that influence the attrition of allegations of rape and serious sexual assault from the point of view of victims and the police. The research aims to highlight the vulnerability of victims in their engagements with the police in order to improve reporting rates and reduce attrition. 

Young Offenders in their Transition to Adulthood in Brazil 
This research explores the lived experiences and pathways of a group of young offenders in Brazil in their transition to adulthood, exploring issues of violence, inequality and meaning-making.


Supporting an Assessment of the Accommodation Needs of Gypsies and Travellers in Cornwall 
This research project, carried out in collaboration with Southern Horizons (UK) Ltd, was commissioned by Cornwall Council to fully assess Gypsies and Travellers accommodation requirements in the county. In doing so the research utilised existing data on Gypsy and Traveller settlements in the county alongside a specifically commissioned survey with Gypsies and Travellers to effectively identify need and potential accommodation provision.

Hate Crime
A number of research studies inform a programme of work in this field. This includes analysis of Gypsies and Travellers circumstances, highlighting their vulnerability and subsequent hate victimisation and poor treatment by policing agencies. Research with Gypsies and Travellers has been conducted in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government and the civil-society organisation Equality South West. Other research conducted in Chinese communities and with foreign migrant, workers who derive their income from serving the night-time economy, has also evidenced comparable levels of marginalisation, lack of support and vulnerability to hate crime, similar to that experienced by Gypsies and Travellers. 

Plymouth Family Intervention Project
This research constitutes an annual evaluation of intensive family intervention in Plymouth. It measures outcomes for families by reviewing performance indicators and produces an annual report. It was originally and continues to be commissioned by Plymouth City Council.