Professor Lauren DevineProfessor of Linguistics and Law
LL.B.(Hons), LL.M, M.A., M.A., Ph.D., Barrister, P.G.Cert.H.E.
Inns of Court School of Law Bar Finals
University of Birmingham Ph.D (Law)
University of Birmingham M.A. (Research Methods)
University of Bristol LL.M
University of the West of England LL.B. (Hons)
University of the West of England PG Cert HE
Principal Investigator: Developing Corpus Approaches to Safeguarding and Family Justice System Research (Economic and Social Research Council Large Grant ES/Y002709/1 £2.5million). 2023-2028. This grant establishes the Centre for Corpus Linguistic Approaches to Safeguarding Studies (CLASS) working across LABs in Lancaster, Aston, and BCU. CLASS will create resources and tools to help understand and improve the experience of children and families involved in family justice system processes, including the challenges of online safeguarding and a comparison of global safeguarding models. The work of the CLASS LAB is the first to apply corpus linguistics (discovering patterns of authentic language use) to these contemporary safeguarding issues.
Programme Lead: Seed projects (Research England, expanding excellence in England (E3) grant, £45,500). 2022-2023. The Aston Centre for Language and Law suite of ten seed-funded projects developing small, specialised corpora to interrogate aspects of individual, corporate, and state vulnerability.
Principal Investigator: Illegitimate Discourses (Research England, expanding excellence in England (E3) grant, £20,610). 2022-2023. The project creates and analyses a specialised corpus of peer-reviewed literature published between 1909-1968 in the Eugenics Review
Co-Investigator: The Risk of Risk (Economic and Social Research Council grant number ES/R00983X/2 £250,000). 2022-2024. The project considers the probity of risk assessment in cases of suspected child abuse, evaluating the accuracy of algorithmic risk prediction tools.
Principal Investigator: The Care Cases Crisis (Part 2: evidencing)(The Nuffield Foundation, grant number JUS/ £124,000). 2023-2025. The project evidences the findings of Part 1, conducting a large sample evaluation of case files.
Principal Investigator: Mind your Language (Research England, expanding excellence in England (E3) grant £60,000). The project explores the feasibility of developing a corpus approach to written expert psychologists’ reports in the Family Justice System. A pilot specialised corpus of reports from a random sample of a ten-year database of reports was created and analysed.
Principal Investigator: The Care Cases Crisis (Part 1: theorising)(The Nuffield Foundation, grant number JUS/43090 £350,544). 2017-2022. The project evaluates the systemic reasons for the increases in child removals despite the government’s measures to reduce child abuse.
Principal Investigator: Lighting the touchpaper (Commissioned report for the Ministry of Justice). 2016-2017. The report was commissioned to consider the implications for the MoJ’s digitisation agenda of introducing online safeguarding reporting between separating parents during private law proceedings.
Principal Investigator: Solutions for Safeguarding (HEFCE/UNLtd start-up grant £3,000) 2015-2016. Designed to develop an impact case study, ‘Solutions’ works to facilitate better outcomes across child and adult social care.
Principal Investigator: Rethinking Child Protection Strategy (Economic and Social Research Council grant number ES/M000990/1 £202,487). 2014-2016. This project evaluated the evidence base for child protection and safeguarding strategy and policy in England, meeting the criteria of ‘genuinely transformative research at the frontiers of social science’.
Co-Investigator and Consultant: Crime Scene to Court in Virtual Worlds (Teaching and Learning Fellowship Grant £11,400). 2012-2014. Featured by the BBC in 2016, the project developed a virtual learning environment crime scene and courtroom for forensic experts.
Principal Investigator: Safer Children? (Early Career Researcher Grant £15,224). 2012-2013. This project evaluated how online safeguarding training in schools translated into child protection referrals, evaluating effectiveness and outcomes.
I work at the intersection of law & corpus linguistics, developing corpora and methods to analyse family justice system data. I also work on language and law projects including SafeGen (a corpus analysis of global safeguarding policies), "The sayable & the un-sayable" (state regulation of speech), & cyber-regulation of online hate/fake news. I have led/co-led research projects in excess of £3.5m for The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Nuffield Foundation, and Research England.
I am establishing the CLASS Centre of Excellence (Centre for Corpus Linguistic Approaches to Safeguarding Studies) funded by the ESRC as part of the Large Grant awarded to further corpus linguistics in safeguarding and Family Justice System studies. CLASS will be a multi-site LAB led from Lancaster with hubs at Aston and Birmingham City University.
PhD Supervision Interests
I welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students, particularly projects that consider the complexity of language and/or law in safeguarding/child protection/identifying vulnerabilities, projects that use corpus or computational linguistics methods to analyse legal materials, projects about the "sayable and the unsayable" including supra-jurisdictional regulation of cyber-hate (speech) and/or cyber-fake (news), and projects about regulation and control of threatening communications.