Laura joined the School of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2019 as a Criminology Lecturer. In 2017, Laura graduated from the University of Suffolk with a BSc (Hons) in Criminology. In 2019, she received her MSc in Leadership and Custodial Environments. Laura previously worked as a Prison Officer for HMPPS, gaining frontline experience before joining the University as a lecturer.
Laura is a lecturer for the MSc Leadership and Custodial Environments course, delivered in partnership with Unlocked Graduates. This course combines online learning with traditional lectures to enable all students to take up a full-time Prison Officer role whilst on the program. Laura currently delivers the module content across this course, leading on the delivery of the module: Rehabilitation and Desistance. Additionally, Laura supervises MSc Dissertations written by serving Prison Officers collecting research from their front-line practice.
Laura also teaches Undergraduates on the BSc Criminology course. She delivers content for the Level 4 Introduction to Criminology module, Level 6 Contemporary Issues in Criminology, as well as the Level 6 Penology module.
Laura is passionate about multi-disciplinary teaching and learning and has delivered lectures within the BSc Mental Health Nursing course, as well as the BA Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies course, drawing on her professional experience as a Supervising Officer within HMPPS.
Laura is passionate about Lived Experience as teaching pedagogy, and as such, regularly invites both professionals and service-users with involvement in Criminal Justice to deliver sessions to Criminology experience, enabling students to make links between theory and practice within their lectures and seminars.
Laura’s research interests focus generally on the sociological explorations of prisons, particularly the effects of imprisonment on mental health. Her PhD is exploring how prisoners with acute mental illness experience prison, paying particular attention to discrimination, stigma and social exclusion. Laura has written policy regarding the legislative frameworks which govern the treatment of mentally-unwell prisoners in England and Wales.
Laura has an upcoming article within the Prison Service Journal:
Polley, Laura and Smith, Richard (2020) Exploring body worn cameras; Prison Officer perceptions of safety and accountability. Prison Service Journal.
Laura is currently co-editing an academic textbook titled: Approaches to Understanding health and Wellbeing in Custodial Settings, exploring the research methods deployed to understand how health and wellbeing exists within prisons.
Laura is a volunteer for Anglia Care Trust – a local third-sector organisation offering support with housing, domestic abuse, money advice and advocacy. As part of her role, she regularly attends Police Investigation Centres to act as an Appropriate Adult for children and vulnerable adults, supporting them through their detention. Additionally, Laura volunteers her time to the housing department at Anglia Care Trust, creating and delivering food parcels to those in need within her community.
Laura is passionate about supporting rough sleepers within Suffolk, and regularly engages with agencies that support this group to volunteer her time to assist with various projects. Laura regularly delivers hot meals and care packages to those rough sleeping in partnership with local businesses.
Laura remains in close contact with her previous colleagues within Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, and recently created Distraction Packs with her Criminology students to support prisons during the Covid-19 pandemic.