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Research Briefings

Our Department produces a series of research briefings to document and disseminate our research to the widest possible audience as well as to better engage students and strengthen our links with external groups, organisations and policy makers. For the full text of these, please see below.
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Parental Rights in Prison

Kate O'Brien, Hannah King

The aim of the Parental Rights in Prison Project (PRiP) was to support incarcerated parents who wished to sustain their relationship with their children who are in the care of the local authority, care of family and significant others or adopted and to provide them with legal advice and support around their rights as parents. The project was funded by HMPPS and took place from January 2021 – December 2022. Initially established in HMP Low Newton prison, the project expanded to also support fathers in HMP Kirklevington and HMP Durham in year two. The funding paid for one full-time project coordinator (PRiPC) who provided ongoing specialist family support following intervention from the family support workers, Drug and Recovery Team (DART) family support worker or HMPPS prison family support worker. Her role was to undertake complex core family work. She also supports mothers in custody with additional issues such as safeguarding, looked after children, social care involvement, care proceedings, the perinatal pathway, post-adoption support and liaising with professionals including schools, social workers, family law solicitors as well helping maintain family ties. The PRiP Project was externally evaluated using a mixed methods approach and ran alongside delivery of the intervention. The evaluation focused on mothers only, and delivery of the PRiP Project at HMP Low Newton. We engaged with a total of 23 mothers2 during the evaluation period which ran for eighteen months. Underpinning the evaluation were in-depth interviews with 18 mothers and 7 prison staff members, analysis of 10 case-studies written by the PRiPC and impact data collected by the PRiPC; and a participatory theatre project involving 7 mothers which is ongoing.

Read the full report here: Parental Rights in Prison Project


Policing domestic abuse - what are 'out of court resolutions' and when are they being used?

Nicole Westmarland, Kelly Johnson, Clare McGlynn

In stark contrast to official police guidance, every police force in the UK - except Scotland – used ‘out of court resolutions’ to respond to over 5,000 domestic abuse incidents (including intimate partner abuse) in 2014. Some of these incidents related to offences with sentencing tariffs of up to life imprisonment. Such widespread use of community resolutions and restorative justice - what we are calling out of court resolutions - has been taking place under the radar and contrary to best practice.

Read the full briefing here: Policing domestic abuse - what are out of court resolutions


Engaging men and boys in preventing violence against women: The role of businesses and workplaces

Dr Stephen Burrell

There is growing recognition that in order to prevent violence against women (such as domestic abuse and sexual harassment) from happening in the first place, and to effectively foster gender equality
within organisations, we need to engage more men and boys to take up these issues. Recent Durham University research has shone a light on work seeking to do this in England.

Read the full briefing here: Engaging men and boys in preventing violence against women


What makes adoptive family life work?

Dr Chris Jones of University of Edinburgh, Professor Simon Hackett and Ms. Helen Charnley, of Durham University and Margaret Bell of DFW adoption

Within adoption theory and practice the model of adoption in the UK as ‘the total substitution of one family with another’ has been replaced with a model of ‘openness’ and ‘dual connection’.

Read the full briefing here: Adoptive family life


Mapping rapidly changing minority ethnic populations

Prof. Gary Craig, Ms Sue Adamson, Dr Nasreen Ali and Fasil Demsash

Official statistics can be of limited help to those providing services to increasingly diverse populations. Using an innovative approach, this project drew on both formal and informal sources to estimate the size and diversity of York's minority ethnic population and the implications for key policy and service agencies.

Read the full briefing here: Mapping Rapidly Changing Ethnic Minority Populations


Mapping human rights organisations in Scotland

Prof Gary Craig, supported by Dr Clare Whitfield and Prof Nicole Westmarland

The study required the team to develop a database of local,
voluntary, community and self-advocacy (i.e. non-statutory)
groups across Scotland working on issues relating to the
rights of those groups within society ‘whose rights are not at
present adequately protected’.

Read the full briefing here: Mapping human rights organisations in Scotland


Can social enterprise reduce reoffending? 

Despite the level of involvement in the CJS and potential in tackling recidivism, there is a limited evidence base to suggest that social enterprises are having an impact on reoffending.

Read the full briefing here: Can social enterprise reduce reoffending?


Is restorative justice possible in cases of sexual violence?

Professor Clare McGlynn, Prof Nicole Westmarland, Ms Nikki Godden

The results of our case study provide good grounds for considering afresh the possibilities of restorative justice in cases of sexual violence. We suggest that for victimsurvivors who wish to pursue this option and are properly supported to do so, restorative justice may offer the
potential to secure some measure of justice.

Read the full briefing here: Is restorative justice possible in cases of sexual violence


Mapping children's services in England

Carol Devanney, Anja Uglebjerg, Richard Wistow

The information collected through the mapping project provided the government with baseline data on services that were in theory being developed towards policy objectives.

Read the full briefing here: Mapping children's services in England


Recidivism, desistance and life course trajectories of young sexual abusers. An in-depth follow-up study, 10 years on

Simon Hackett, Josie Phillips, Durham University

Helen Masson, Myles Balfe, University of Huddersfield

The aim of the project was to describe and analyse the experiences and
current life circumstances of adults who, as children, were subject to professional interventions because of their sexually abusive behaviours.

Read the full briefing here: Recidivism, distance and life course trajectories of young sexual abusers 


'Race', crime and justice in the North East Region

Gary Craig, Maggie O'Neill, Bankole Cole, Georgios A. Antonopoulos, Carol Devanney, Sue Adamson, Paul Biddle and Louise Watts

A research team from three Universities in the North East Region (Durham, Northumbria and Teesside) explored the issues relating to the increasing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) populations in the Region and their experience of racist crime, using a mixed methodology involving
community consultations, individual interviews, analysis of demographic data and examination of police data.

Read the full briefing here: Race, crime and justice in the North East Region


Community-based Participatory Research: Ethical Challenges

Durham Community Research Team

Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University

The study examined ethical issues in community-based participatory research (CBPR), based on a literature search and the deliberations of a co-inquiry action research group. The co-inquiry group comprised five community partners, five academics from Durham and Newcastle Universities and two staff from Beacon NE.

Read the full briefing here: CBPR Ethical Challenges


Researching Self-Injury in a Women's Prison via Participatory Action Research

James Ward

The project adopted a Participatory Action Research (PAR, Lewin, 1946) approach to engage staff and women in prison (service users) as collaborators in the research process and in order to produce action towards change in the prison.

Read the full briefing here: Researching self-injury in a women's prison via PAR


Debt on Teesside: Pathways to Financial Inclusion

Sarah Banks, Greg Brown, Jan Flaherty, Tracey Herrington, Mark Waters

This project grew out of earlier work by CAP, Thrive and Durham University, which had highlighted household indebtedness, linked to the use of high cost credit sources, as a key issue for low income households in the Teesside area (Orr et al, 2006; Friends Provident, 2010). Such households can be described as experiencing ‘financial exclusion’, as they lack key financial products such as bank accounts, insurance, pensions and have little or no savings.

Read the full briefing here: Debt on Teesside - pathways to financial inclusion


Protecting Women's Safety?

Nicole Westmarland, Marlann Hardey, Hannah Bows, Dawn Branley, Mehzeb Chowdhury, Katie Wheatley and Richard Wistow

The aim of this study was to explore the use of smartphone applications (‘apps’) in relation to domestic and sexual violence.

Read the full briefing here: Protecting women's safety


Chatting Online With My Other Mother: Post-Adoption Contact in the Facebook Era

Sarah Greenhow, Simon Hackett, Chris Jones, Elizabeth Meins and Margaret Bell

Post-adoption contact is now a common feature of domestic adoption within the UK. To date, this has been conceptualised as direct (face-to-face) and indirect (letterbox) contact or as mediated contact. However, a new form of contact has emerged that challenges these categories conceptualised as ‘virtual contact’. The term encompasses a range of post-adoption contact activities including communication through social networking sites between adopted children and birth relatives.

Read the full briefing here: Chatting online with my other mother


Do STEM schemes work?

Dr Pallavi Amitava Banerjee

STEM Education budget, initiatives and schemes have incessantly increased since then. However, major studies or surveys of part-taking schools and students, looking at the short term or long term impact the schemes have in improving take up, performance and achievement in STEM subjects is relatively scarce.

Read the full briefing here: Do STEM schemes work?


Ethnic inequalities in education: a UK-US comparison

Professor Vikki Boliver

The United Kingdom and United States of America have become more ethnically diverse societies as a result of immigration throughout the second half of the twentieth century. A key question for social scientists is how the children of post-war immigrants to these societies have been faring educationally.
This briefing outlines a study of the educational achievement and progression rates of the children of immigrants in the UK and US. Some second-generation immigrant groups have been faring well relative to their third-plus generation white British and white American peers, but other groups continue to experience educational disadvantage.

Read the full briefing here: Ethnic inequalities in education a UK US comparison