Institute for Social Justice and Crime — Projects and Publications
We are developing an evidence base on "What Works" and working with commissioners and professionals to value the important work that they do to further our understanding of pertinent issues facing society. As a research institute, sharing our research, practice and learning is at the heart of what we do.
For further information on our projects and to download research reports, click the links below.
Operation Soteria Bluestone
Operation Soteria Bluestone is a UK Home Office-funded, managed by MOPAC, programme designed to improve the investigation of rape and other sexual offences (RAOSO) in England and Wales. It is a unique project which is underpinned by rigorous social science. With multi-disciplined academics located in multiple universities, mixed qualitative and quantitative methods are applied to a five pillared approach to organisational change with police forces, uplifting the capability of more specialist police decision-making in RAOSO cases. The research informs policing practice as well as government policy and is set to inform a national change. These research informed pillars pinpoint specific areas for improvement which will form part of the new 6 pillar framework for investigating RASSO: 1) suspect-focused investigations; 2) disrupting repeat offenders; 3) victim engagement as procedural justice; 4) promoting better learning, development, and wellbeing for police officers; 5) using data more effectively in RASSO investigations; and 6) digital forensics. The pathfinder project started in 2021, based in Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Designed by Dr Katrin Hohl and Professor Betsy Stanko, the pillar leads include Dr Kari Davies, Professor Miranda Horvath, Dr Kelly Johnson, Jo Lovett, Tiggey May, Dr Olivia Smith and Dr Emma Williams.
Pillar 1 (Suspect focused Investigations) of project Bluestone is led by Professor Miranda Horvath at the University of Suffolk.
Dr Katherine Allen – Research Fellow
Dr Joana Ferreira – Research Fellow
Aneela Khan – Research Fellow
Ruth Spence – Research Fellow (external)
Pillar 1 involves working closely with Dr Kari Davies and a team at Bournemouth University who are running pillar 2 on targeting repeat suspects, and examines how repeat sex offence suspects are identified, investigated, and disrupted by the police
Through Pillars 1 and 2, five PhD studentships are being funded, with research being conducted by Arianna Barbin, Sophie Barrett, Zoe Callon, Lily Hill, and India Ingram-Hawkes. The project is in its second year and involves working closely with five police forces and collaborating with a further 14, along with a number of other agencies and organisations.
One of the papers published from Operation Soteria Bluestone data in January 2023, which was co-written by a team from the Institute (Prof Miranda Horvath, Dr Katherine Allen, Dr Joana Ferreira, and Thistle Dalton) was covered by the Guardian Newspaper on 20th January.
Trauma-Informed Practice evaluation
Dr. Katherine Allen and Megan Hermolle are carrying out a mixed methods evaluation of a one-year Trauma-Informed Practice training and implementation support programme developed by a local charity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The evaluation incorporates qualitative methods such as genogram creation and pre- and post-intervention focus groups with programme participants and interviews with training and community of practice facilitators, as well organisational document review and analysis of anonymised quantitative data on staff absence, turnover and safeguarding referrals. The evaluation will trace changes in practice and organisational culture in relation to trauma, including staff wellbeing and resilience.
Cross-cultural webinar follow-up evaluation
This project is an extension of an evaluation of H.O.P.E Training and Consultancy’s CCT webinar series, which is designed to increase attendees’ awareness, knowledge and confidence regarding inclusive and anti-oppressive practice. Researchers will compare pre- and post- webinar survey responses to track changes in reported knowledge and confidence, and analyse open-ended responses to identify emergent themes.
Project Minerva research and evaluation
This mixed-methods project involves supporting and evaluating the development of an AI tool for women experiencing online and technology-facilitated abuse, with the aim of preventing further harm, promoting recovery and facilitating effective reporting. This project is in partnership with the Southwest Grid for Learning and Rascal Ventures, who are developing the Minerva app.
The research stage of the project encompasses a scoping review on defining, understanding and responding to online and technology-facilitated abuse, a Freedom of Information request to police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland relating to training and attrition, online surveys for victim-survivors and professionals whose work brings them into contact with victim-survivors, and follow-up interviews and co-design discussions with victim-survivors.
Researchers are currently in the evaluation stage, which includes analysing feedback from beta and live Minerva users.
Trauma-Informed Practice and Training Benchmarking Project
Researchers are currently in the early stages of a Trauma Informed Practice benchmarking project, in collaboration with Survivors in Transition and Suffolk County Council. The aim is to map awareness of trauma informed approaches, and the nature and extent of trauma informed training, in addition to the gaps, across Suffolk and North-East Essex.
Redefining safety: a narrative review of literature on the underground and open or ‘Dutch’ models of refuge
By Dr Katherine Allen, Megan Hermolle, Dr Olumide Adisa (May 2023)
This article synthesises literature on the evolution of domestic abuse (DA) refuges, with particular attention to the development of two models: the conventional or ‘underground’ refuge (UR) and the open or ‘Dutch’ refuge. The article will detail what the available evidence says about the benefits and drawbacks of these models and explore their implications for the DA sector in England, with reference to extending women’s space for action and meeting the needs of underserved victim-survivors.
The article argues that multiple models of provision are needed to meet the intersecting, complex and at times competing needs of different victim-survivors, and that available evidence provides preliminary support for the viability of the open model as part of a wider suite of responses to DA. Further research is needed to extend the evidence base on the open model, and to develop a whole system approach which can meet the needs of a wider range of victim-survivors.
An Evaluation of Hope’s Cross-Cultural Training Programme
By Dr Olumide Adisa, Dr Dev Rup Maitra, Dr Katherine Allen and Meena Kumari (January 2022)
This report presents the findings of CARe’s evaluation of a series of cross-cultural webinars coordinated by H.O.P.E Training & Consultancy. The webinars were designed to promote culturally-informed responses to racially minoritized survivors across specialist and mainstream domestic abuse and sexual violence services, drawing on the expertise of researchers and practitioners with relevant professional and lived experience to provide training. The research team gathered survey evidence from attendees and conducted interviews with trainers to assess the impact of the webinars, which were then analysed. The report shows that CCT was viewed by participants as being a highly beneficial, nuanced piece of training, sensitive to contemporary needs in the field, especially in light of the BLM movement. In particular, participants felt that the training was informed and pragmatic, allowing for candid and open discussions about the subjects of race, gender-based violence, and myriad other pressing social issues.
Online Harassment and Hate Crime in HEIs – report from FOI
By Professor Andy Phippen and Professor Emma Bond (January 2020)
In this report Profs Emma Bond and Andy Phippen explore university’s approach to supporting students who might be victims on online abuse, looking at issues such as policies, the recording of incidents, routes for support and training. Using Freedom of Information requests to explore the sector, the report shows a worrying picture of institutions who have little idea how to address online abuse (and in some cases do not see it as their concern), a failure to define policy to support practice, and demonstrates a sector wide lack of staff training.
Higher Education Online Safeguarding Self-Review Took 2019
By Professor Emma Bond and Professor Andy Phippen
The Digital Civility project at the University of Suffolk is an innovative initiative that received funding through the HEFCE Catalyst fund. The University aims to increase digital civility, improve the online safety of students in relation to online abuse, harassment, and hate crime over the coming year, with the support of the University of Suffolk Student Union, Student Services and Suffolk Institute for Social and Economic Research.
An evaluation of the Venta programme: a project aimed at men who have abused or are likely to abuse women
Principal Investigator: Dr Olumide Adisa
This report examines the impact of the programme work with male clients who are male perpetrators abusing female partners/ex-partners, based on the referrals received into Venta in 2018. It analyses the data in relation to referrals and men’s engagement with the Venta programme in 2018. Venta at ICENI, based in Ipswich, Suffolk involved a pilot intervention with low, medium and high-risk male perpetrators of domestic abuse (DA) who have abused or are likely to abuse their female partners/ex-partners in Suffolk. Each group ran for 16 weeks with a 2.5-hour session held every week and a 4-hour session on a Saturday at the beginning. The programme also includes two 1-hour initial assessment sessions. Venta offers a space for exploration, understanding, learning and growing. A total of 108 stakeholders, including offenders, practitioners and other agencies, were consulted using questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews.
The project undertook two pilots with 24 men (who happened to be mostly White British) and validated pre- and post- outcome questionnaires were collected from 12 completers across both cohorts.
Venta has been purposely designed to work with men who have abused women and are likely to behave in a violent, abusive, coercive or controlling way within intimate relationships with women. Participation is free and voluntary. The key aim of the project is to help men work towards understanding and changing that behaviour. Evidence on changes in behaviour for the completers has been presented in the report.
Safeguarding Students in Higher Education
Over the year 2017/2018, the university provided and promoted various educational materials, media campaigns, workshops and seminars on several aspects of online risk, such as indecent images and revenge pornography, devised and led by experts in the field. It is envisaged that adopting a whole university and community-led approach, as well as identifying ‘what works’ for our students, should enable a substantial improvement in student digital safety and wellbeing.
In addition to the Blurring Boundaries and Virtual Violence conferences, consisting of workshops and talks from various experts within the field of online safeguarding, we have held training workshops and seminars for both staff and students. These include responding to disclosures of online sexual abuse and reporting and removing indecent images online. Furthermore, discussion groups as well as awareness raising materials and educational resources have and will continue to be employed across the campus, the VLE and social media.
For more information on the project see: Safeguarding Students in Higher Education
Police Response to Youth Offending Around the Generation and Distribution of Indecent Images of Children and its Implications
By Professor Emma Bond and Professor Andy Phippen; Research conducted for the Marie Collins Foundation Spring 2019
Online Peer on Peer Abuse: A National Survey of Teachers and Safeguarding Leads in England and Scotland
Principle Investigators: Professor Emma Bond, Professor Andy Phippen & Katie Tyrrell
Revenge Pornography Helpline - Evaluation of annual helpline data (March 2018)
Principal Investigators: Professor Emma Bond and Katie Tyrrell
This evaluation has presented an analysis of 12 months of activity for the Revenge Pornography Helpline from April 2017-March 2018. The quantitative and qualitative data reflects a highly successful service in providing specialist advice, signposting and legal support in removing online content. The combination of practical and emotional support ensures a holistic and individualistic service which meets the needs of victims of image-based sexual abuse.
Young People’s Perceptions of Provision and Opportunities in Suffolk Report
Principal Investigator: Katie Tyrrell, Research Associate, March 2019
This research reflects the voices and perspectives of 77 young people from the ages of 11-18 years old, captured within focus group discussions, across communities within urban and rural areas of Suffolk. Focusing particularly upon young people’s perceptions of safety, provision and opportunities within their community, the research aimed to build an evidence base to enhance service development, inform future investment into youth provision and help forge resilient communities.
Youth Engagement: Exploring methods of engagement and feedback with young people
Principal Investigator: Katie Tyrrell, Research Associate, Sept 2018
This research involved asking young people themselves about the most appropriate and efficient methods for communicating and engaging with young people in Ipswich, as well as their views of current or upcoming activity of the DfE-funded Ipswich Opportunity Area programme, with a focus on involving young people’s voice in decision making and policy development.
Summer Schools in the time of COVID-19: Interim findings on the impact on widening participation
By Dr Marianna Stella (2022)
TASO (Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education)
Widening participation is a current topic in the Higher Education sector, especially around access to HE and student outcomes. However, there is a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of summer schools in access to HE. To address this gap, the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in HE (TASO) conducted a Randomised Control Trial of HE summer schools, one of which was the summer school taking place at the University of Suffolk. Qualitative data was collected through the use of focus groups of students participating in the summer schools. Key findings highlighted that those who apply to a university summer school are already interested in progressing to HE. The survey findings indicated that the summer schools have a small positive effect on self-reported applications to HE. They seem to particularly help with students' self-efficacy and confidence around applying to HE and continuing their learning journey in HE.
Use of Parsing Heuristics in the Comprehension of Passive Sentences: Evidence from Dyslexia and Individual Differences
By Dr Marianna Stella (2022)
This study examined the comprehension of passive sentences in order to investigate whether individuals with dyslexia rely on parsing heuristics in language comprehension to a greater extent than non-dyslexic readers. One hundred adults (50 dyslexics and 50 controls) read active and passive sentences, and we also manipulated semantic plausibility. Eye movements were monitored, while participants read each sentence, and afterwards, participants answered a comprehension question. We also assessed verbal intelligence and working memory in all participants. Results showed dyslexia status interacted with sentence structure and plausibility, such that participants with dyslexia showed significantly more comprehension errors with passive and implausible sentence. With respect to verbal intelligence and working memory, we found that individuals with lower verbal intelligence were overall more likely to make comprehension errors, and individuals with lower working memory showed particular difficulties with passive and implausible sentences. For reading times, we found that individuals with dyslexia were overall slower readers. These findings suggest that (1) individuals with dyslexia do rely on heuristics to a greater extent than do non-dyslexic individuals, and (2) individual differences variables (e.g., verbal intelligence and working memory) are also related to the use of parsing heuristics. For the latter, lower ability individuals tended to be more consistent with heuristic processing (i.e., good-enough representations).
"As an integral aspect of our work with the Money Advice (MAS), in April 2018, Dr Olumide Adisa concluded a twelve month evaluation of our financial capability service, working with survivors of domestic abuse. The evaluation offered invaluable insights, additional learning and a firm evidence base from which to further help survivors of abuse. The results evidenced the implications for reducing repeat victimisation in domestic abuse. The evaluation also incorporated a Knowledge Exchange Workshop which the University of Suffolk hosted, the workshop involved a range of interested parties and used the emerging findings to share the learning and to stimulate further interest .The financial capability work was delivered via the What Works Fund, a national fund administered by the MAS. As such, the work delivered in Suffolk and the results of the research undertaken by the University of Suffolk has significant potential to influence the delivery of money advice, work with ‘hard to reach groups’ across the UK."
- Anglia Care Trust
"In 2015, Professor Emma Bond was involved in our groundbreaking partnership survey of Adult survivors of Child Sexual Abuse from across the UK, which detailed survivors experiences of services and highlighted new and critical information which impacts the way services are delivered and survivors are understood. In 2017, we are working together again with Professor Bond’s team conducting in depth interviews with survivors to ascertain their personal experiences of services and journeys towards effective intervention. This work will be launched later this year with a national conference in 2018 and we are confident it will be seen as innovative, responsive research which will be used by commissioners and service providers to improve their response to adult survivors of sexual abuse across a complex and often difficult to navigate system. This work is genuinely driven and informed by survivors themselves who have been involved at every stage of planning and inception - an ethos that Professor Bond and her team are wholeheartedly committed to and together we are ensuring that the voice of the survivor is listened to, believed and respected."
- Survivors in Transition
Drive Partnership evaluation: fostering local and national systems change
Researchers are conducting a two-year project for DRIVE, which will assess the impact of DRIVE on local and national systems change through examining changes in culture and practice in three areas across England (Avon and Somerset, Derbyshire, and the Wirral). The evaluation will be multi-method, collaborative and informed by systems thinking, with researchers working closely with DRIVE and stakeholders to incorporate diverse perspectives. The evaluation will examine how the DRIVE partnership has contributed to changes in local agencies’ culture, practice and multi-agency working and how these changes have impacted on services’ engagement with perpetrators and victim-survivors. More broadly, it will assess how DRIVE has changed the picture at a national level through increased awareness around the need for domestic abuse perpetrator programmes.
This research project is an extension of Dr Olumide Adisa’s 2019 evaluation of the Venta programme, which supports men who have used harmful behaviours in their intimate relationships to make positive behavioural changes. Researchers will interview men who have completed the programme in order to develop their understanding of how Venta enables men to change their behaviour, the benefits of engaging with the programme and any areas for improvement.