Crime, social justice and policing

Keele University has been a centre for research on crime and justice since the 1960s and has established an international reputation for rigorous, innovative and influential research.   The Crime, Social Justice and Policing research cluster hosts a highly productive group of researchers whose work is theoretically informed, methodologically innovative, and shapes policy and practice.  

Our interdisciplinary approach includes perspectives from criminology, socio-legal studies, policy, theory, public health, community justice, youth justice, social inclusion, and related fields.   We have extensive collaborative relationships with national and international partners from the criminal justice, government, health, local authority, policy and third sectors.  This supports our excellent track record for research and evaluative projects which enrich academic knowledge as well as having real world impact and practical application. 

Group expertise

The range of specialisms within the Criminology group of academic staff is constantly developing. Visit our team page to find out more about each member's specialisms.


Members of the Criminology team and research cluster are actively engaged in research with, and about, policing, including domestic abuse, violent offending, anti-social behaviour, police/public contact, police use of technology and roads policing. Their work impacts at a local, national and international level.

The Roads Policing Research Group is an interdisciplinary, cross-Faculty group of staff and students who are engaged in research and/or teaching that informs the understanding and delivery of policing roads. Its members include experienced researchers involved in ongoing roads policing projects (including for funders such as the Department for Transport, Home Office, NPCC and local forces), authors on roads policing and road safety publications, colleagues whose work in other areas has a roads policing angle, and PhD students engaged in work around this topic.

The Roads Policing Academic Network, a network of over 170 academics and research-engaged practitioners interested in roads policing, is also led from within the cluster. The network is cross-disciplinary and international and hosts regular events, runs conference panels and shares news, events and publications. For more information, or to join the network, email Dr Helen Wells.

Prison, custody and resettlement

Cluster members have research expertise on imprisonment, prison-to-community pathways, resettlement and offender management with particular reference to marginalised prisoner groups (young prisoners, children, women, the bereaved, older prisoners); gender responsive and community-based service; youth custody; health in the prison and probation, resettling communities.

Safe and secure communities

Members of the cluster have produced influential work in the fields of community justice; everyday insecurity; fear of crime; politics of crime control; police-community relations; governance, security and counter-terrorism; crime and inequality; alternative responses to youth offending; law and punishment in everyday life.

Health, well-being and justice

The cluster members have expertise in mental health; death, loss and bereavement in custody; ageing in prisons and probation; the criminalisation of marginalised groups of children; loneliness, social isolation and well-being.

Justice policy, administration and practice

Members of the cluster have worked on topics including social inequality and criminalisation; lay participation in criminal trials; criminalisation and migration; organisational resilience in the third sector; inter-agency partnerships; addressing barriers to citizens’ participation in justice.

Hatred and prejudice

Members of the cluster have extensive knowledge of race, prejudice and hate crime and have led projects examining Islamophobia and racial prejudice.

Students on our PhD and professional Doctorate programmes are valued for their vibrant contribution to the research environment. Our doctoral alumni are employed in the university sector, research, industry, government departments and criminal justice agencies. Doctoral projects by students under the academic supervision of cluster members include:

PGR student Project topic Lead Supervisor Co-Supervisor

Laura Briody 

Operationalising ’vulnerability’: how the police are informed about, identify and respond to individuals categorised as ‘vulnerable’.  Helen Wells Sam Weston/ Sandra Walklate

Carol Wilson

  Christine Roffe  Sam Weston

Gemma Hunt (Cino)

  Anne-Marie Day Sam Weston

Jonathan Cumberbatch 

(prof doc)

The Victims Code of Practice: Who does it really serve, the victims or the criminal justice system? Tony Kearon  Sam Weston / Helen Wells 

Irfan Pandor

Roles of, and relationships between, lay and professional prison inspectorate systems? Mary Corcoran  Santiago Abel Amietta 

Ewart Hodge

Phenomenological investigation into decision-making by fraud assessors in the insurance industry. Santiago Abel Amietta  Mary Corcoran
Felicity (Flick) Adams Transgender and imprisonment: a critical human rights analysis.   Fabienne Emmerich Mary Corcoran
Alice Fani  Changing Perceptions of Migrants and Migration in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Italy and England: A comparative study Evi Girling  Clare Griffiths  
Katie Smyth  What about the Practitioners? Recentring the Practitioners within the Discourse surrounding Restorative Justice Practice and Policy Tony Kearon  Santiago Abel Amietta 
Craig Arnold  Roads Policing Reimagined: Intentions, expectations and experiences of a new roads policing tasking methodology Helen Wells  Tony Kearon 
Chloe Dawson    Lydia Martens  Mark Featherstone & Ben Anderson 
Emily Brannen  Conceptualising the role of NDORS driver diversion courses in a contemporary road safety and roads policing landscape Helen Wells  Both external to Keele (OU and Staffs Uni) Gemma Briggs and Leanne Savigar-Shaw
Hayley Fox  
(prof doc)
Is there value in a “risk terrain” analytical approach and can it have a practical application in reducing rural crime in Lincolnshire? Helen Wells  Aneta Hayes and Phil Catney 

Members of this research team also make a significant contribution to the development and extension of criminological knowledge and social theory in general – helping to locate current, emerging and future potential challenges in their wider cultural and socio-economic context. This in turn contributes to our ability to work with partners in ‘horizon scanning’, the prompt identification and analysis of emerging challenges and the formulation of strategies for proactive early intervention.

  • Professor Mary Corcoran: ‘Lifting the lid’: an exploration of ‘social story-making’ as generative justice with crime-affected people and communities. Research partners are Safe Ground; Prof Fergus McNeill (University of Glasgow); Prof Beth Weaver (University of  Strathclyde); Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, London.
  • Dr Helen Wells and Dr Santiago Amietta: How can digital evidence submissions from the public be used more effectively to reduce road offending and improve road safety? Funded by the Road Safety Trust and in partnership with Lincolnshire Police Keele University and Lincolnshire Police working to improve road safety using dash cam footage - Keele University
  • Dr Helen Wells and Dr Will Andrews: INTERACT (Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response and Contact Technologies in Policing) ESRC funded, and in partnership with Professor Liz Aston (Napier, PI), Dr Megan O’Neill (Dundee), Professor Ben Bradford (UCL). INTERACT (Investigating New Types of Engagement, Response and Contact Technologies in Policing) | College of Policing
  • Dr Anne-Marie Day: Exploring racial disparity in diversion from the youth justice system (2022 – 2025) Nuffield funded, and in partnership with Prof John Pitts, Dr Tim Bateman, Dr Isabelle Brodie, and Dr Timi Osidipe (University of Bedfordshire). Other projects include evaluating Staffordshire County Council’s Saplings and VASP projects – both aimed at supporting children at risk of exclusion from education and/ or care. Anne-Marie has also recently completed an evaluation of the Youth Justice Board’s Pathfinder ‘Constructive Resettlement’ Project in partnership with the South and West Yorkshire Resettlement Consortium. Please see Anne-Marie_Day - Keele University for details of further projects and research interests.
  • Dr Evi Girling: Place, Crime and Insecurity in Everyday life ESRC funded. Evi Girling is a PI on this project which is a partnership with Professor Ian Loader (University of Oxford), Professor Richard Sparks (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Ben Bradford (University College London). About the Project - Security In Place. In the mid-1990s Evi Girling, Ian Loader and Richard Sparks conducted an ESRC two-year study of people's fears and feelings towards crime and social order in Macclesfield in Cheshire (see
  • Crime and Social Change in Middle England (2000). Our current project has enabled a unique opportunity to return to Macclesfield, a quarter of a century later, to undertake a new study of people's everyday experiences of security and insecurity against the backdrop of two decades of rapid social, political and technological change (notably, the digital revolution, migration, austerity, and Brexit).
  • Dr Liam Wrigley. Current research interests: Social justice, youth studies, pre-emptive criminality of young people, care, social isolation, meaningful relationships and loneliness. Liam has previously acted as joint investigator on a UREC funded project concerning young people, children and research ethics (University of Sheffield), supported by the British Sociological Association. Liam is an external member of the Centre for Loneliness Studies (Sheffield Hallam University), where Liam has previously collaborated with Professor Andrea Wigfield. Please see Dr Liam Wrigley – Keele University for further details.
  • Dr Santiago Amietta: Lay participation and democratic legitimacy in context:  An ethnography of jury trials in Buenos Aires. Funded by the Raíces programme of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Argentina, this 4-year ethnographic project is delivered in partnership with Dr Leticia Barrera and Dr Andrea Lombraña from the Interdisciplinary School of High Social Studies (EIDAES) of the University of San Martin and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET, Argentina). This project builds on Santiago’s interests on lay participation in criminal justice and other instances of state and community punishment, and people’s everyday experiences of law and legal institutions.
  • Dr Tony Kearon – ongoing work with Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire County Council through the Staffordshire Centre for Data Analytics (SCDA) -  projects – Domestic Abuse Outcomes (completed December 2022), Violent offending, Anti-Social Behaviour (both ongoing 2023)
  • Dr Clare Griffiths - currently working with a local charity (Engage Communities, Stoke-on-Trent) to evaluate how the use of sports can act as a diversion away from crime amongst young people. Other recent research projects and publications have included using a narrative methodology to explore undergraduate student motivations to study criminology; and adopting a ‘what’s the problem represented to be?’ (WPR) framework to critically analyse the UK Government’s 2021 ‘New Plan for Immigration’.  Other areas of research interest include fear and insecurities around crime; the criminalisation and securitisation of migration; 'othering' and minoritized communities; community social control; 'social cohesion'; and police-community relations.
  • Clare Griffiths: Negotiating hostility and hospitality: Rural Shropshire and the interpretation, enactment, and resistance to national policies about immigration and asylum (QR Policy Support Fund June ‘23 – Aug ’24). The research seeks to understand how local governments and organisations in a rural area may interpret, enact, and also contest, wider national policies (and political narratives) about immigration and asylum in the UK.  The research includes interviews with stakeholders based in Shropshire,  refugees, people seeking asylum, and local residents. 

For further information please contact:

Dr Helen Wells

Dr Helen Wells
Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Expert in Mobile phone use while driving, roads policing.