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.
Permanently Progressing? Building secure futures for children: Middle childhood - Dr Linda Cusworth
Funder: Nuffield Foundation and a philanthropic donor (£500,000)
Investigators: Dr Helen Whincup (PI, University of Stirling), Dr Linda Cusworth (Co-I, Lancaster University), Dr Maggie Grant (Co-I, University of Stirling), Senior Research Associate (to be appointed, Lancaster University), Jade Hooper (RA, University of Stirling), Adele Laing (RA, University of Stirling), Dr Alison Hennessy (Lecturer, University of Stirling).
Project Partner: Adoption and Fostering Alliance (AFA) Scotland
Project Duration: December 2020 – September 2024
In 2018, 14,738 children were looked after in Scotland (Scottish Government 2019) whilst around 85,000 children were looked after in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (DfE 2018; Statistics Wales 2018; DoH 2018). Until recently, little was known about children’s experiences and pathways through the Scottish care system; the balance of voluntary and compulsory placements, the routes taken and time to permanence (at or away from home), and what influences outcomes and wellbeing.
The Permanently Progressing? study is addressing these gaps by gathering information on all 1,836 children who became looked after in Scotland when aged five or under in 2012-13. This three-phase longitudinal research project is tracking children’s progress at key life stages (early childhood, mid childhood and late adolescence/early adulthood). Phase 1 (2014-18) – Building Secure Futures for Children in Scotland - analysed children’s pre-care experiences, pathways and early outcomes. It used administrative data, surveys of caregivers and social workers, interviews with caregivers, and play and talk sessions with children. We found that a third of the children were not in permanent placements after four years and that adoption generally took over two years. Final project reports are available on the CFJ website.
During Phase 2 (2020-24) the research team will revisit the cohort children in middle childhood (age 7+) to find out where they are living, their legal status, wellbeing, and what services bolster resilience. This will provide important and robust information for families, practitioners and policy makers, in Scotland and internationally, which in turn will result in more effective services and better outcomes for children and families.
Born into care: infants becoming looked after in Scotland – rates, recurrence and outcomes - Dr Linda Cusworth
Funder: Scottish Government (£50,000)
Investigators: Dr Linda Cusworth (PI), Jade Hooper (RA), with input from Dr Gillian Henderson (Information and Research Manager, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration), Professor Karen Broadhurst (Sociology, Lancaster University) and Dr Helen Whincup (University of Stirling).
Project Duration: November 2020 – April 2021
The removal of a child, particularly an infant, into care is perhaps the most difficult and brutal decision that professionals can make to intervene in family life, and has implications for children, families, professionals and the state. That many mothers have had previous children removed from their care is of particular concern.
This project aims to a) establish volumes and incidence rates of both infants and older children becoming looked after in Scotland, b) investigate trends over time and by local authority, c) consider variations in initial placement (with foster carers, kinship carers, hospital or other) and legal basis. We are using population-level data from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration for this, so will ‘capture’ all cases where children became looked after away from home via the Children’s Hearing System (on a Compulsory Supervision Order, a Child Protection Order, or an Interim Order).
It will also, for a sample of infant cases, establish whether an older sibling had previously been removed (to give an estimate of infant recurrence in Scotland) and provide a description of the cases – including child and sibling characteristics, parent/family problems, and whether they were subsequently reunified to parents or placed for adoption.
JiCSAV: Justice in Covid-19 for Sexual Abuse and Violence: Impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on criminal justice journeys of adult and child survivors of sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault - Dr Siobhan Weare
Funder: UKRI-ESRC Covid Funding Call (£213,785)
Investigators: Dr Lorna O'Doherty (Coventry University - PI), Dr Siobhan Weare (Lancaster University), Dr Grace Carter (Coventry University), Professor Vanessa Munro (University of Warwick), Dr Emma Sleath (University of Leicester), Dr Michelle Cutland (University Hospital Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust), Concetta Perôt and Professor Sarah Brown (independent consultants).
Project partners: The Survivors Trust, Avon and Somerset Police. Male Survivors Partnership, representatives from the Judiciary and Crown Prosecution Service.
Project duration: November 2020 - May 2022
Over 150,000 sexual offences were recorded by police in year ending March 2020 (ONS, 2020), and there are indications that lockdown increased some sexual offences (e.g. online-facilitated abuse, or sexual abuse perpetrated by family members) and may have decreased others. For example, there was a 24% reduction in rapes reported to the police in the period April to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 (ONS, 2020), However, there has been no research into the specific effects of Covid-19 on criminal justice system (CJS) policies and practices relating to sexual offences, nor on the journeys of survivors through the CJS during this period.
Prior to the pandemic, there were significant challenges for the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences and conviction rates were extremely low. Some of these challenges may well have been exacerbated by Covid-19 and lockdown e.g. further delays to investigating cases, postponement of Achieving Best Evidence interviews. At the same time, however, Covid-19 has generated significant innovation within the CJS, e.g. the introduction of a video platform within the courts enabling all parties in a criminal hearing to engage securely and remotely, and this may sow the seeds for improvement in survivors’ journeys through the CJS.
Drawing on the perspectives and experiences of CJS stakeholders, including complainants and families, police, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts and Tribunals Services, the Judiciary, Sexual Assault Referral Centres, and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, this research will provide unique insights into the impact of the pandemic on the CJS in sexual offence cases. Changes to procedures precipitated by Covid-19 might offer longer-term benefits for survivors and stakeholders and we aim to identify these and promote their implementation.
Reset ethics: supporting ethical decision-making in non-Covid health services during and after the pandemic - Professor Sara Fovargue
Funder: UKRI-AHRC Covid-19 Funding Call (£260,000)
Investigators: Dr Lucy Frith (University of Liverpool – PI) Professor Heather Draper and Dr Paul Baines (University of Warwick), Dr Anna Chiumento (University of Liverpool) and Professor Sara Fovargue (Lancaster University).
Project Duration: July 2020 – July 2021
The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has created huge disruptions to the routine functioning of healthcare systems across the world. Understandably, attention has been focussed on the ethical issues raised by frontline care. All of the ethical guidelines and support tools produced so far have largely concentrated on managing Covid patients during the first wave. Virtually no attention has been paid to the ethical issues and dilemmas resulting from the initial decimation and the reorganisation of non-Covid-related health services. This project redresses that balance. It will pay particular attention to whether pre-pandemic ‘everyday ethics’ in clinical care and at the level of organisations need to adapt to the new Covid-19 realities as non-Covid-19 services are reset. The project will focus on maternity care and paediatrics as two of the non-Covid areas which have been significantly affected by the response to the pandemic.
We will work closely with selected NHS trusts in England, and conduct an ethical analysis of current policies and processes guiding the reorganisation of services; speak to frontline healthcare providers about their experiences of reconfiguring and resetting services; speak to services users and members of the public; and develop and pilot test approaches to ethics support tailored to the needs of professionals working in these settings.
Domestic Violence Disclosure Schemes (Clare’s Law): Victim/ survivor perspectives - Dr Charlotte Barlow
Funder: British Academy (£9,987)
Investigators: Dr Charlotte Barlow (PI) & Professor Sandra Walklate (Co-I, University of Liverpool & Monash University)
Project duration: September 2020-April 2022
Domestic Violence Disclosure Schemes (DVDS) were rolled out across England and Wales in 2014 following a high-profile public campaign for their introduction after the murder of Clare Wood in 2009 (hence Clare’s Law) by her partner who was found to have a history of violence unknown to her. The Domestic Abuse Bill (2019) plans to put these schemes on a statutory footing. Yet the efficacy of such schemes is highly contested and with the exception of work in NSW, Australia there no research to date exploring victim/survivors perceptions and/or experiences of accessing DVDS. This project aims to fill this gap in knowledge by conducting in-depth interviews with victim/ survivors from across the UK who have had experience of Claire’s Law (via right to ask or know routes). A key output of the project will be the development of a Clare’s law information booklet, leaflet and posters. The target audience for this will be victim/ survivors of domestic abuse and practitioners working with victims, including police officers. The project 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 DVDS.
Doctors within Borders: Networking Initiative on Mobile Populations in Contemporary Health Systems - Dr Luca Follis
Funder: Wellcome Trust (£32,015)
Investigators: Dr Karolina Follis (Project Lead, Lancaster University), Dr Luca Follis (Co-I, Lancaster University) and Dr Nicola Burns (Co-I, University of Glasgow).
Project Duration: October 2019 - May 2021
Contemporary healthcare systems assume that the people for whom they provide care belong to populations that are largely settled. Yet, we know that people are moving, with migration and health a challenging issue in contemporary society. How do health systems deliver care to those who lack legal settled status or a permanent address? This project establishes a research network, bringing together experts in health and migration, non-governmental organisations, the NHS and health professionals across Europe who deliver care to such groups. Members of the network explore the often dynamic and novel ways health professionals have engaged with the mobility of their patients, frequently working outside the regular health system.
Born into Care: Infants who become looked after in Scotland - Dr Linda Cusworth
Funder: ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (£4,910)
Investigators: Dr Linda Cusworth
Key Partners: Scottish Government, University of Stirling, Adoption and Fostering Alliance (AFA) Scotland. The project is also supported by the ESRC-funded Administrative Data Research (ADR) partnership.
Project Duration: September 2019 – May 2020
The main objectives of this project are:
- to bring together key academic, policy, analytic and practice partners in relation to the issue of infants becoming looked after in Scotland, strengthening existing relationships
- to share learning from work done by the Centre on newborns entering care proceedings in England and Wales, and from the ‘Permanently Progressing?’ project
- to discuss implications of the research findings for policy and practice in Scotland
- to explore commonalities and differences between legal systems, and between the availability, scope and structure of the administrative data
- to discuss the opportunities for future collaborative work. Contact: For further details contact Linda Cusworth: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 (£209,001)
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 – October 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 Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Data Partnership
Funder: Nuffield Foundation (£2.2m)
Lancaster University - Professor Karen Broadhurst (PI), Dr Linda Cusworth (Co-I), Professor Judith Harwin, Dr Bachar Alrouh, Dr Stuart Bedston, Dr Stefanie Doebler
Swansea University - Professor David Ford (Co-PI), Dr Lucy Griffiths, Rhodri Johnson, Ashley Akbari, Simon Thompson, Jon Smart, Professor Kerina Jones
Project Duration: January 2019 – June 2023
A key message from stakeholders in the family justice system is that there is insufficient intelligence about how the system is working, including knowledge about outcomes for children and families involved with the family courts. Limited knowledge reflects limited capacity among the family justice research and analytic community, but also that access to sensitive data produced routinely by agencies is difficult.
To address these obstacles a programme of work will draw on the combined expertise of the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University and the infrastructure and expertise of the SAIL Databank at Swansea University, forming a Data Partnership with the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.
The over-arching aims are to ensure a consistent supply of timely, accessible outputs for the new Observatory, whilst at the same time building capability in the use of administrative data and demonstrating its value for the Family Justice System. Cafcass England and Cymru are supporting this work, given the value of national data held by both organisations and the role they play in frontline decision-making.
A comprehensive programme of work is organised around 4 objectives: a) to increase access to and capability in the use of administrative data; b) to improve intelligence about how the family justice system is working through routine and specific issue analyses; c) to demonstrate the value of data harmonisation and data linkage, through the delivery of bespoke linkage projects, and d) to increase the capacity of policy and practice stakeholders to understand, interpret and apply data for policy and practice development.
The Emerging Case Law System in China - Dr Lu Xu
Funder: Lancaster University GCRF Seedcorn Funding (£5000)
Principal Investigator: Dr Lu Xu (collaborating with Professor 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.
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.
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 (Dirty-money) 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’.
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.
Transitional Justice & ´Transitional Journalism´: Case Study on Kosovo - Professor. 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 (Transitional Justice & ´Transitional Journalism) 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.
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.
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.
Pharmacists' perceptions of ethical conflict and professional guidance - Professor 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 pharmacists ethical guidance website
Policing Responses to Coercive Control - Dr Charlotte Barlow
Funder: N8 PRP (£23630)
Investigators: Dr Charlotte Barlow (PI), Professor Sandra Walklate (Co-I, Liverpool University), Dr Kelly Johnson (RA), Merseyside Police, Women's Aid, Dr Les Humphreys, Professor Stuart Kirby (UCLAN).
Project duration: May 2017 - April 2018
This project (Policing Responses to Coercive Control) 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.
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.