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Crime, Justice and Society


This research programme is primarily based in the Criminology Subject Group in the School of Social Sciences. However, the programme draws together researchers across the university who are interested in researching crime and criminal justice.

The Criminology Group share research expertise in the areas of policing, cybercrime, prisons, violence, criminal records, sex offending and sex work, domestic violence, European security, youth justice and social exclusion, ethnicity and crime, social cohesion and poverty, criminological theory and politics and crime.

Details of current projects and events are listed below. The programme leader welcomes enquiries from scholars and organisations whose research interests align with the programme. Please get in touch for further information.

Programme Lead

Professor Colin Webster

Current Projects

The Effects of Poverty and Prison on Identity and Desistance Among Pakistani Young Men Who Offend

Professor Colin Webster, Dr Mohammed Qasim and Carla King

This recently begun study has applied for research funding to extend earlier research upon which it is based. It is currently being carried out by a PhD student under the guidance of the Principal Researchers.

The main objective of this research project is through studying the life histories and identities of Pakistani young men who offend, to establish and explore the long-term events and processes that influence their beginning offending, persistence, and moves away from crime. The project will focus on the distinct social, cultural and economic context and the relations in which their offending and desistance takes place, such as family, education and neighbourhood change, and a long-term shift from local high waged, skilled and secure textile work to low waged, precarious, service work. In other words, the project will examine what influence these macro-level forces have on the participation of young and young adult Muslim men in the labour market, in family formation and on the licit and illicit opportunities available to them.

An evidence-based approach to fighting cybercrime: improving the effectiveness and efficiency of investigating cyber enabled crime among practitioners

Dr Tom Cockcroft

Based on Cockcroft’s collaborative funded research with the School of Computing, Creative Technologies and Engineering at LBU, and a partnership with West Yorkshire Police, the aim of this research project is to solve investigative problems and improve the policing of cybercrime according to the needs of the police organisation.

This partnership is designed to ensure police officers are informed by the latest research, made ‘research active’ through cybercrime training and education programmes; identify and target the key personnel in the police organisation needed to improve responses to cybercrime; increase the effectiveness of cybercrime investigation.

Action research: individual change through prison education in secure settings

Dr Helen Nichols, Dr Bill Davies and Dr Suzanne Young 

The aim of this project is to use models of education and theories of individual change based on the originator’s prison research to evaluate the impact of accredited undergraduate modules across a range of disciplines and professional development. The project is evaluating the impact of the accompanying educational experiences on individual change and rehabilitation among long-term prisoners in the high security estate. Specifically, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that the Criminology Subject Group and the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge, deliver to our students and prisoners at HMP Full Sutton who learn together.

High Security Prison Research Partnership

Professor Colin Webster, Dr Suzanne Young, Dr Helen Nichols, Dr Bill Davies, Dr Mohammed Qasim and Professor Heather Shore

A second aspect of Leeds Beckett’s partnership with HMP Full Sutton is to design and execute research projects involving prisoners as research participants.

Specific research projects are beginning and an aspiration that operate under the auspices of a broader series if key research questions including: What can we understand about the nature of ‘purpose’ within closed social institutions? In what ways does the high security estate culture inhibit or encourage social relationships and individual autonomy? What is the relationship between the organisational constraints of the high security estate and the opportunities for personal development within it? What are the implications of embedding transdisciplinary academic research within the high secure prison estate?

A currently developing research project is to study the relationship between crime and religion (both its redemptive and radicalising possibilities) among Muslim prisoners serving relatively long term sentences.

Islamophobia and Policy

Dr Waqas Tufail

The aim of this research project is to challenge and offer research based alternatives to government policies that can have the effect of encouraging Islamophobia. For example, to critically analyse the limits of procedural fairness and police accountability, particularly in respect of the reproduction of racial and ethnic norms about police suspects. In this aspect, Tufail co-authored a landmark report commissioned by the UK’s leading race equality think-tank, the Runnymede Trust, launched as a report in Westminster. As a consequence, the government was forced to respond to the report, which critically scrutinised the government’s counter terrorism Prevent strategy, which among other things, had the effect of encouraging Islamophobia. The independent report makes a number of recommendations for policymakers to consider, with the hope that future decisions related to counter terrorism are grounded first and foremost in respect for human rights and civil liberties.


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