Funded Research

Staff within the Law School have secured funding from a range of internal and external sources to support their research.

Our funded research projects reflect the diverse range of socio-legal and criminological research being undertaken by staff within the School. See below for more information on recent and currently funded projects.

Disrupting the Routes between Care and Custody: Learning from girls and women in the care and criminal justice systems - Dr Claire Fitzpatrick

Funder: The Nuffield Foundation (£202,497)

Investigators: Dr Claire Fitzpatrick (PI), Dr Jo Staines (Co-I, University of Bristol), Dr Julie Shaw (Co-I, Liverpool John Moores University) and Katie Hunter (RA), with input from expert advisors Professor Brian Francis (Lancaster University) and Dr Jude Towers (Liverpool John Moores University).

Project Duration: February 2019 – April 2021

This project will explore the experiences of females who have been in care as children (e.g. foster care or children’s homes) and who are also involved with the youth/criminal justice system. The overall aim is to consider how to disrupt the well-trodden routes between care and custody for those with care-experience. A targeted literature review will examine messages from research and knowledge gaps. Semi-structured interviews with girls currently in care, and imprisoned women who have care experience, will be used to explore their experiences of the care and justice systems and their views on what needs to change. Additionally, interviews with professionals will explore their perspectives and recommendations for reform. Furthermore, documentary analysis will enable a focus on how the care system currently responds to girls’ challenging behaviour. Importantly, the project will also consider how quantitative data collection on this topic could be improved, as well as identifying future opportunities for data linkage. 

Exploring legal ownership of digital goods in virtual worlds - Dr Megan Blakely

Funder: The British and Irish Law, Education, and Technology Association (£880)

Investigators: Dr Megan Blakely 

Project Duration: February 2019 - February 2020 

This study aims to gauge user perceptions of ownership in virtual worlds, in particular massive multi-player online games (MMOs) and measure understanding of the contractual terms that bind the user in relation to ownership of digital content.  Online terms and conditions are often complex and lengthy; thus many users do not read the agreement and develop their own understanding of the agreed upon terms based on perceptions of community norms. Users may not think of their generated material in MMOs in terms of copyright, but they may expect some level of ownership – or at least attribution – over their own authorship and artistic or literary contributions.  However, the rights to creative materials that might otherwise attract copyright protection may often be unavailable or limited.  These contributions add considerable reputational and financial value for companies, but less is understood about why users contribute in these ways and the extent of their contractual understanding.  The research includes empirical work with users through semi-structured interviews and surveys as well as legal analysis. Outcomes will provide a deeper understanding of the mechanics and cultural capital of virtual communities as well as the functionality and user comprehension of terms and conditions in MMOs.

The Emerging Case Law System in China - Dr Lu Xu

Funder: Lancaster University GCRF Seedcorn Funding (£5000)

Principal Investigator: Dr Lu Xu (collaborating with Prof. Gao Wei (Peking University, China))

Project Duration: June 2018 - July 2019.

This project examines the principles and practices underlying the newly established China Judgement Online database against the background of China being a Civil Law jurisdiction that never formally recognises any principle or system of case law.

Accommodating Conscience Research Network (ACoRN) - Dr Sara Fovargue

Funder: The Royal Society of Edinburgh (£3,600)

Investigators: Dr Mary Neal (PI, Strathclyde University), Dr Stephen Smith (co-I, Cardiff University) and Dr Sara Fovargue (co-I)

Project duration: March 2018 - February 2020

Our overarching aim is to establish a network of researchers and practitioners with an active interest in the issue of conscience-based exemptions (CBEs) in healthcare and a commitment to accommodating CBEs in some circumstances, so that together we can explore persisting questions about the accommodation of conscience in the healthcare context.
There is a huge and growing academic literature on conscience in healthcare (and beyond), encompassing a wide diversity of views. Much of this literature reflects fundamental disagreement about whether CBEs should ever be permitted and/or protected in the healthcare context. While this debate is obviously very important, we regard it as equally important that intellectual space should exist within which those who broadly agree about the desirability of accommodating at least some CBEs can explore fundamental questions, and test new/speculative arguments, against a background of shared basic premises.

Visit project website

Experiences of men 'forced-to-penetrate' women in the UK: Context, consequences, and engagement with the criminal justice system - Dr Siobhan Weare

Funder: The British Academy / Leverhulme Trust (£9,950)

Principal Investigator: Dr Siobhan Weare

Project duration: May 2018 - July 2019

‘Forced-to-penetrate’ cases involve a man being forced-to-penetrate, with his penis, and without his consent, a woman’s vagina, anus, or mouth. These cases are not recognised as rape under UK laws and almost nothing is known about the experiences of men subject to this form of sexual violence. Therefore, this project seeks to develop academic and practitioner knowledge and understanding of men’s experiences of compelled penetration by women within the UK. The project will involve interviewing men about the contexts within which their forced-to-penetrate experiences took place, the consequences of their experiences, their perceptions of law and the criminal justice system, and issues around reporting and seeking support. The findings will be disseminated to criminal justice organisations, third sector support services, and other stakeholders at an end-of-project event to support the development of policies and practices in relation to such cases, as well as considering potential law reform.

Visit project website

Dirty Money: New Insights and Emergent Issues - Dr Katie Benson

Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council (£7804.99)

Investigators: Dr Katie Benson (PI), Dr Colin King (Co-I, University of Sussex), Professor Clive Walker (Co-I, University of Leeds)

Project duration: March 2018 - May 2019

This project involves a two-day conference in May 2018, bringing together emerging researchers in the fields of criminal assets, money laundering, terrorist financing, and their legislative, regulatory and policy responses, to offer new insights into a range of areas related to illicit finance and its control. The conference enables early careers scholars who conducting research in these areas to present and discuss their ongoing work and develop a network of other researchers in the field. An edited collection based on the papers presented at the conference will be published by Routledge in 2019, entitled: 'Assets, Crimes and the State: Innovation in 21st Century Legal Responses

More information here.    

Transitional Justice &´Transitional Journalism´: Case Study on Kosovo - Prof. James Sweeney

Funder: The British Academy (£47,887)

Investigators: Professor James Sweeney (PI), Professor Kenneth Andresen (Co-I, Universtiy of Agder)

Project duration: January 2018 - December 2018

The project examines the role of journalists in historical accounting during times of transition, with a case study on Kosovo.  It is an interdisciplinary project with a co-investigator from Norway who specialises in media studies. The funding will, amongst other activities, allow a research assistant to be hired for 10 months, in particular to undertake field work in Kosovo in summer 2018.

More information here.

Specialist Family Law and Prison Law Advice and Advocacy Service for Mothers in Prison - Dr Sarah Kingston

Funder: Sir Halley Stewart Trust & Wates Foundation (£11,645)

Investigators: Dr Sarah Kingston (Co-I)

Project duration: July 2016 - June 2019

In conjunction with the Prisoners’ Advice Service and Rights of Women, this research project will provide imprisoned mothers with access to free Family and Prison Law advice in four female prisons in England. Advice provided will include: their right to be involved in decisions and proceedings about their children; exercising their parental responsibility; contact arrangements with their children; and securing better long term living arrangements for them. The research will involve evaluating the pilot outreach service and prison information booklets. The evaluation will involve questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with female prisoners, Rights of Women (ROW) staff who offer family law training to Prisoners’ Advice Service staff (PAS), and trained PAS staff - to determine their views on the implementation, effectiveness and benefit of the service for imprisoned mothers and their children. This evaluation will inform the roll out of the service across the women’s prison estate and will be designed to meet the needs of those at risk of losing their children to adoption or other family law interventions.

Pharmacists' perceptions of ethical conflict and professional guidance - Dr Sara Fovargue

Funder: The British Academy / Leverhulme Trust (£9,396)

Investigators: Dr Mary Neal (PI, University of Strathclyde), Dr Sara Fovargue (Co-I).

Project duration: September 2017 - July 2019

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) recently approved changes to its Standards of Conduct, Ethics and Performance and its supporting Guidance on Religion, Personal Values and Belief. The changes alter expectations on pharmacists whose personal beliefs conflict with elements of their professional roles, significantly shifting the balance in favour of the interests of those who use pharmacy services. Simultaneously, changes are being proposed and debated which would involve pharmacists in increasingly controversial practices: for example, ongoing efforts to legalise assisted dying and proposals for 'abortion on prescription'. As a pilot for a larger study exploring the normative authority of professional ethics guidance, we will interview pharmacists working around the UK, exploring their engagement with professional ethics guidance generally, their perceptions of the new GPhC Standards, and heir wider reflections about balancing personal values with professional expectations, against the background of the debates on abortion and assisted dying.

Visit project website

EU health policy and law - shaping a future research agenda - Dr Mary Guy

Funder: The British Academy / Leverhulme Trust (£9,800)

Investigators: Dr Mary Guy (PI) and Dr Eleanor Brooks (co-I, University of Edinburgh)

Project duration: January 2018 - March 2019

Prior to the economic crisis, EU health policy and law was attracting growing academic interest. Despite a limited mandate, the EU institutions had extended their influence over national health systems via a range of legislation and initiatives which have changed the nature of existing health law. However, in recent years, changes in focus of the EU institutions and other factors such as Brexit have led to a fragmentation of EU health scholarship.

This interdisciplinary (law / political science) project seeks to advance the study of EU health law and policy by providing a timely and multi-disciplinary assessment of EU health governance and contribute to the establishment of an 'EU health studies' field. The investigators are developing, respectively, a law-focused and a politics-focused article in this context. However, the main focus of the project is two events: a 'World Cafe' workshop hosted at Lancaster in April 2018 which identified themes to be examined at a follow-up workshop at Edinburgh in November 2018. These events form the basis for a special issue on the future of EU health law and policy - publication in Health Economics, Policy and Law is provisionally confirmed for Spring 2020.

For further information, see the Outcomes Document from the Lancaster workshop and follow us on Twitter @EUHLP #EUHLP2018.

Police Officer Responses to Coercive Control - Dr Charlotte Barlow

Funder: The British Academy / Leverhulme Trust (£9,975)

Investigators: Dr Charlotte Barlow (PI), Mandi Whittle (RA), Bedfordshire Police.

Project duration: March 2018 - October 2019

This project engages in empirical research to explore police understanding, attitudes towards and responses to coercive control. This involves four stages: 1. Online survey, measuring police officer's attitudes towards and understanding of coercive control; 2. Focus groups with police officers to provide a more in-depth insight into officer's knowledge of and attitudes towards coercive control; 3. Analysis of police officer body worn camera footage of coercive control responses, enabling a more practice-based understanding of police responses; 4. Continued development and expansion of the coercive control 'learning tool' informed by current and N8 project findings.

Bridging Connections: Improving the links between academic and work related learning by criminology students - Dr Sarah Kingston

Funder: HEFCE Catalyst Fund (£49,920).

Investigators: Dr Sarah Kingston (PI)

Project duration: November 2017 - September 2018

The project will help students to apply criminological knowledge and concepts to their practice-related, experiential learning. Work-related learning modules (WRL) on Criminology degree programmes are often designed to help students develop their criminological knowledge and relevant skills. Yet, there is little systematic understanding of how, or even whether, students relate criminological concepts to their practice-related, experiential learning. This pedagogic research will capture and use learner analytics to develop innovative pedagogical tools that support students to recognize, reflect on, articulate and apply criminological knowledge to their experiences in WRL modules. This will be achieved through an internet based survey and focus groups with current and former students to determine ‘what works’ in improving learning outcomes of WRL modules. An advisory group consisting of local employers and academics will advise on the development of pedagogical tools that enhance students’ ability to relate their academic degree knowledge to work-related learning. Findings and tools developed will be disseminated to all heads of criminology across the UK.


Policing Responses to Coercive Control - Dr Charlotte Barlow

Funder: N8 PRP (£23630)

Investigators: Dr Charlotte Barlow (PI), Prof Sandra Walklate (Co-I, Liverpool University), Dr Kelly Johnson (RA), Merseyside Police, Women's Aid, Dr Les Humphreys, Prof Stuart Kirby (UCLAN).

Project duration: May 2017 - April 2018

This project seeks to explore police responses to coercive control. The project involves three stages, the first being a quantitative analysis of police domestic abuse and coercive control data, stage two involves a qualitative analysis of a selection of coercive control case and ABH domestic abuse files and the final stage involves the development of a coercive control 'learning tool', designed to support police practice when responding to coercive control cases.

Find out more here.

Perspectives on disability, law and autonomous vehicles - Dr Catherine Easton

Funder: The British Academy / Leverhulme Trust (£9,937)

Investigators: Dr Catherine Easton (PI)

Project duration: May 2017 - October 2018

Driverless, or autonomous, cars are currently being trialled on the UK’s roads. The Government has published an action plan to implement this technology, stating that it has the potential to bring major benefits and change people’s lives for the better. Disabled people are identified as a specific group who could benefit from autonomous cars. The UK’s legal and regulatory framework will need to adapt to implement this technology. However, it has been found that the experiences of disabled people are often overlooked in the development of law and policy relating to technology. This study aims to provide a critique of how the law relating to autonomous cars could develop, building in the perspective of disabled people from the outset. It will use qualitative methods to gain insights into attitudes towards safety, liability and privacy in relation to autonomous vehicles. These will be complemented with a co-design workshop in which policymakers, designers and disabled people will carry out exercises focusing on the interplay of law, regulation and technology design.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Peacebuilding – Developing New Insights into Peacebuilding

Funder: Lancaster University Impact Fund (£1,700), Law School Pathways to Impact Fund (£1,100), and FASS Impact and Knowledge Exchange Grant (£4,545)

Investigators: Dr Amanda Cahill-Ripley (PI) Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and Quaker UN Office.

Project duration: Feb 2017 - ongoing

This knowledge exchange project aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of economic and social rights (ESRs) in sustaining peace. The idea is to exchange knowledge and share practices and experiences of the use of such rights within the peacebuilding and human rights communities and across disciplines to influence policy at international and national level and to develop innovative practice. In particular we aim to:

  • Assist in networking traditional and non-traditional actors in peacebuilding (for example those involved in economic, social and cultural Rights, transitional justice, conflict prevention,  conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction, gender and security and development actors)
  • Advance innovative practice and thinking on peacebuilding and ESRs
  • Support and strengthen the relationship between academia, human rights actors and peacebuilding actors including the UN Peace and Security Institutions, UN OHCHR, and relevant UN agencies and NGOs.
  • Expand space for dialogue across different institutions and sectors about realising rights, resolving conflict and sustaining peace.
  • Develop an enhanced and broader understanding amongst practitioners and academics of promising practices in the peacebuilding and economic, social and cultural rights fields.

Visit the project website.

The Red Guillotine

Funder: Law School Seedcorn Research Fund (£255)

Principal Investigator: Dr Agata Fijalkowski

Project duration: December - July 2018

The award will fund the preparation of a play script about the life of the East German judge Hilde Benjamin (1902-1989). This preparation has taken the form of direction and exchanges with, inter alia, colleagues at the University of Edinburgh (Creative Writing) and members of the Scottish Playwrights' Association.

Benjamin is mainly known for her unwavering commitment to communism, and during the 1950s (the so-called Stalinist period) in East Germany as High Court judge she rendered judgments in cases concerning capital crimes that earned her the nickname ‘Bloody Hilde’ or ‘The Red Guillotine’. Her philosophy was ‘you laugh with your friends; you hate your enemies’. Benjamin’s perspective was rooted in a past of discrimination and persecution. As a woman, as a mistaken minority, and later as the partner of an individual from an eminent Jewish intellectual family and as a communist. She survived the war and with legal qualifications obtained in the pre-war period and ideological commitment, she decided to contribute to the creation of an East German communist state. Her life account is less known in the English language (and indeed in German legal discourses).

The play script is the most effective means of appreciating Benjamin’s biography. A play is research accessed via drama and is accessible to a wide audience. This project will adopt innovative ways to engage with the law that are rich in potential.

The aim is to have a public reading in 2019, commemorating 30 years since the collapse of communism.


Permanently Progressing? Building Secure futures for children in Scotland – Dr Linda Cusworth

Funder: British Association of Adoption and Fostering

Investigators: Dr Helen Whincup, University of Stirling (PI), Professor Nina Biehal, University of York (Co-PI), Dr Linda Cusworth, University of Lancaster, Co-Investigator)

Project duration: November 2014 – December 2018

Every year, several thousand children in Scotland become ‘looked after at home’ or ‘looked after away from home’ in foster care, residential placements or with relatives, due to concerns about their welfare.  While many return to their parents, for some the decision is taken to permanently place them with adoptive parents, foster carers or kinship carers.  Since 2014, the Permanently Progressing? Study has been following a large cohort (1,836) of young children in Scotland who became looked after (at home or away from home) in 2012-13, when they were five or under.  The study draws on quantitative and qualitative data from the Children Looked After Statistics (CLAS), interviews with decision makers, questionnaires completed by adoptive parents/carers and professionals, and interviews with adoptive parents/carers and children, to investigate experiences, outcomes and pathways to permanence.  Final reports from the project with be published in Spring 2019.