Crime, Justice and Society

The Crime, Justice and Society research group facilitates inter-disciplinary research with crime and social harm at its centre. The group, instigated at a time of social, economic and political upheaval aims to identify, explore and explain key directions of change in the context of regional, national and global impact. 

The strength of the group lies in its diversity and eclecticism; not just of its members, but of the research areas encompassed. We are not constrained to socio-legal definitions of crime and criminality, with research focusing on culture, harm and society as well as the central concerns of criminology. As such, we are interested in expanding the group in order to incorporate a range of methodological, theoretical and practical paradigms. If you are interested in engaging with the group or becoming a member of the group please email the research lead, Oliver Smith.

CJS Research Group lead - Dr Oliver Smith

Oliver is Reader in Criminology, in the School of Law, Criminology and Government. He is an ethnographer with interests in deviant leisure, crime and harm and has published work on a range of topics including consumerism, alcohol consumption, gated communities, and violence in the night time economy.

If you would like to discuss any ideas around research or becoming a member of the group, please contact Oliver

CJS lead Dr Oliver Smith speaking at the iSPER Brexit event in November 2017

CJS members launch special issue on Brexit Criminology

CJS members, Dr Zoe James and Dr Oliver Smith, have produced a special issue of the journal ‘Safer Communities’ on Brexit Criminology. The issue, which emerged from an event on Brexit Criminology held at the University in April 2017, seeks to contribute a previously absent criminological voice to the discussion and debate surrounding the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. 

The special issue featured an article by Zoe herself on Roma inclusion post-Brexit, as well as a piece by another CJS member, Dr Iain Channing, on Brexit, constitutional change and the Human Rights Act, with a specific focus on homophobia. 

Access the special issue of 'Safer Communities'

CJS sub-themes

The group is organised around three core themes which illustrate the breadth of research within the group:

1. Crime, Culture and Society

We live in an era of unprecedented uncertainty within which life is increasingly precarious. Domestically we are experiencing cultural, economic and political upheaval, with a narrative dominated by Brexit and the implications this may have on employment, inequality and crime. Further afield, the global south is threatened by the realities of geo-political fracturing of societies, pressures associated with climate change, species depletion and other forms of environmental destruction while a global elite continue to reap the rewards of capitalism. Our addiction to consumerism is producing mutations of criminal markets which belie surface-deep reductions in recorded crime, while reproducing global forms of inequality, exploitation and a range of harms. Within this sub-theme we call for research which pushes the boundaries of what we understand as criminology.

2. Governance, Penality and Policing

The criminal justice system (CJS) is facing a number of challenges. At this point, it has never been more important to critically engage with key issues in the governance of crime and penality, and to think about how criminal justice agencies might respond. Research around this theme critically explores the activities of all actors within the CJS, at every level of local and national 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. It is beyond doubt that the sector is experiencing funding crises, austerity measures and chronic understaffing against a backdrop of privatisation and marketisation. As such, quality research with the potential to impact policy and practice in a research environment that welcomes collaboration with key stakeholders is vital to all participants within CJ settings - victims, offenders, policy makers, practitioners and the wider community.

3. Vulnerability and Inequality

We can be in little doubt that crime, harm and violence are experienced disproportionately across regional, national and global populations. This sub-theme acts as a social observatory, undertaking research that describes, explains and counteracts these inequalities across a range of populations. Vulnerability in this sense is not felt exclusively in terms of hate crime victimisation or criminalisation within the CJS, but manifests in a range of social harms around such diverse areas as health provision, employment and social welfare.

Help us with our research

We are undertaking research into experiences of violence and hate crime in everyday life for transgendered people. We would like to hear from anyone who has in the past or currently self-identifies as transgendered.

Find out more about the research

Improving outcomes for Gypsies and Travellers in the planning and criminal justice systems

Research team: Dr Zoe James

Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities face considerable disadvantage when it comes to accessing both accommodation options and public services, such as schools and healthcare. However, Dr James’ research has also highlighted both the extent to which Gypsies and Travellers are vulnerable to hate crime (crime committed against them on the basis of their identity) and the inadequate support available to them, particularly in policing. These findings have gone on to directly inform government policy including, for example, the explicit inclusion, for the first time, of Gypsies and Travellers in the Government’s plan to tackle hate crime.

Interrogating the rationale and logic of neo-liberal criminal justice policy 

Research team: Dr Jill Annison, Dr Patricia Gray and Dr Lesley Simmonds

Over the last 20 years a discernible shift in criminal justice policy has taken place whereby policy interventions have become increasingly privatised and market-driven in light of the wider political-economic paradigm of neo-liberalism. The research team have been exploring this trend through a variety of projects concerned with examining and evaluating interventions to address adult and youth offending and support victims of crime. The core findings from this research have been widely disseminated and used to inform policy, consider best practice and engage with various statutory and third sector agencies.