Crime Research Centre

Research expertise

Members of the Centre engage in research in a wide variety of fields intersecting in their focus on ‘crime’. This diversity allows us to provide focused and detailed work in relation to specific fields, as well as a great potential for inter-disciplinary collaboration.

Particular areas of expertise include:

Doctrinal criminal law: analysis of specific legal rules, often focusing on potential reform of the law;

Socio-legal and empirical research: study of criminal law in its social and cultural context, often involving empirical investigation;

Criminology/ criminal justice: scientific study of crime in society, offenders and societal responses to criminality;

Crime and psychology: exploring the interaction between psychology and criminal rules, for example intoxication, mentally ill offenders, and financial regulation;

International criminal law: criminal law regulating the behaviour of states;

Comparative criminal justice: analysis of contrasting domestic legal systems;

Criminal law theory: exploring the philosophical foundations of crime;

Gender, crime and violence: the role of gender in shaping experiences of, and responses to, crimes of violence;

Financial crime: financially motivated crime, and the finances of crime.

The Centre also has strong links with other related research centres, for example the Centre for Gender Studies and the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption. Such collaboration involves some shared members, as well as joint workshops, reading groups, research papers, and funding bids.

Practitioner Guide: Hate Crime and the Legal Process

The Hate Crime and the Legal Process research team have created a practitioner guide that provides an overview of hate crime laws in England and Wales and information on the key procedural issues that frequently arise during the prosecution and sentencing of hate crime offences. The guide is authored by Dr Kay Goodall, Dr Abenaa Owusu-Bempah (LSE), Prof Mark A. Walters (Sussex) and Dr Susann Wiedlitzka (Sussex).

Research Report: Hate Crime and the Legal Process

Dr Mark Walters (Sussex), Dr Susann Wiedlitzka (Sussex) and Dr Abenaa Owusu-Bempah (LSE) are the co-authors of Hate Crime and the Legal Process: Options for law reform report, which is based on analysis of new statistics, a detailed review of over 100 cases, and 71 in-depth interviews with police, prosecutors, the judiciary, independent barristers, victims, local authorities, and charity groups.

Dr Mark Walters and colleagues recommend that at the very least the current law needs to be amended to make sure victims of hate crime of all characteristics – racial, religious, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity - are protected equally under the legislation. Ideally, however, a new Hate Crime Act should be introduced that would aggravate any criminal offence that demonstrates hostility towards, or is committed by reason of, the victim’s (presumed) race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.

As such the key recommendation of the report is that a new Hate Crime Act is enacted. Failing that, the authors make three other recommendations:

1)      That, as a minimum, Parliament amend s. 28 of the Crime and Disorder Act to include sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity

2)      That the offences of affray, violent disorder, theft and handling stolen goods, robbery, burglary, fraud and forgery, s. 18 grievous bodily harm, homicide offences and all sexual offences are added to the Crime and Disorder Act

3)      That s. 28 of the Crime and Disorder Act is amended to remove the word “motivation” and to replace this with a new “by reason” test

The study also makes recommendations for the police, prosecutors and the judiciary for improving their practice.  

The study found particular problems in relation to:

  • the consistent application of sentencing provisions under ss. 145 & 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003;
  • a reluctance in parts of the judiciary to accept “demonstrations of hostility” committed in the “heat of the moment” as falling within the scope of the legislation;
  • the potential for “double convictions” in the Magistrates’ Courts;
  • diverging approaches to calculating “uplifts” for enhanced sentencing;
  • the potential for “double counting” of hostility at sentencing, due to the fragmented nature of the legislation;
  • and a systemic failure to identity and “flag” disability hate crimes, as well as a reluctance amongst many judges and legal practitioners to accept evidence of targeted violence against disabled people as proof of “disability hostility”.   

The authors therefore recommend that: 

  • the Government legislates to create a new Hate Crime Act that consolidates the existing fragmented framework which would prescribe any offence as “aggravated” in law where there is evidence of racial, religious, sexual orientation, disability and/or transgender identity hostility;
  • the judiciary makes greater use of community and rehabilitation programmes that are designed to tackle the root causes of prejudice and hate as part of offenders’ “uplift”;
  • and for the many thousands of cases that never reach court, that the police and CPS should make greater efforts to offer restorative solutions to ensure that more is being done to address the individual, community and societal harms that are caused by hate crime. 
Research Report: Preventing Hate Crime
The Crime Research Centre is thrilled to launch its first research report Preventing Hate Crime. The report is a comprehensive review of current hate crime interventions being used in England and Wales. In addition, researchers conducted two round-table events earlier this year, with policy-makers and practitioners taking part and contributing to the report’s recommendations.

Preventing Hate Crime Final Report

Preventing Hate Crime Executive Summary

The report recommends:

  • Restorative justice be more widely available to help offenders understand the harms caused by prejudice and to prevent further offences.
  • More investment from the Government to evaluate rehabilitation and education programmes and their success, to ensure that their future use is evidence-based.
  • More work should be done to help police to identify hate crimes and deal with the needs of victims, through training and multi-agency working.
  • Online apps should be investigated as an easier way for victims to report hate crimes.
  • All five protected characteristics (race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender) should be treated equally in law.
  • The National Probation Service should create a knowledge sharing database to ensure that information, expertise and best practices are accessible by criminal justice agencies nationally.
Selected Publications

Books

McCulloch, Jude and Wilson, Dean (2016) Pre-crime: pre-emption, precaution and the future. Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice . Routledge, London. ISBN 9781138781696

Seal, Lizzie (2014) Capital punishment in twentieth-century Britain: audience, memory, culture. Routledge SOLON explorations in crime and criminal justice histories, 3 . Routledge, London. ISBN 9780415622448

Walters, Mark Austin (2014) Hate crime and restorative justice: exploring causes, repairing harms. Clarendon Studies in Criminology . Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780199684496

Articles

Child, J J (2014) The structure, coherence and limits of inchoate liability: the new ulterior element. Legal Studies, 34 (4). pp. 537-559. ISSN 0261-3875

Eden, Paul (2014) The practices of apartheid as a war crime: a critical analysis. Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, 16 (2013). pp. 89-117. ISSN 1389-1359

Jupp, John (2014) Legal transplants as tools for post-conflict criminal law reform: justification and evaluation. Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, 3 (2). pp. 381-407. ISSN 2050-1706

Keating, Heather and Bridgeman, Jo (2012) Compassionate killings: The Case for a Partial Defence. The Modern Law Review, 75 (5). pp. 697-721. ISSN 0026-7961

Lakhani, Suraj (2011) Preventing violent extremism: perceptions of policy from grassroots and communities. The Howard Journal Of Criminal Justice, 51 (2). pp. 190-206. ISSN 0265-5527

Lippens, Ronnie and Hardie-Bick, James (2013) Can one paint criminology? Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology, 5 (1). pp. 64-73. ISSN 2166-8094

Moran, Dominique, Hutton, Marie A., Dixon, Louise & Disney, Tom (2016): ‘Daddy is a difficult word for me to hear’: carceral geographies of parenting and the prison visiting room as a contested space of situated fathering, Children's Geographies, DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2016.1193592

O'Sullivan, Aisling (2015) Ireland and the Genocide Convention: an unhurried move to accede (1948-1976). Irish Jurist, 54.ISSN 0021-1273

Seal, Lizzie (2013) Pussy Riot and feminist cultural criminology: a new 'femininity in dissent'? Contemporary Justice Review, 16 (2). pp. 293-303. ISSN 1028-2580

Shute, Stephen (2013) ‘On the outside looking in: reflections on the role of inspection in driving up quality in the criminal justice system?’. The Modern Law Review, 76 (3). pp. 494-528. ISSN 0026-7961

Book Section

Palmer, Tanya (2017) Distinguishing sex from sexual violation: Consent, negotiation and freedom to negotiate. In Reed, Alan, Bohlander, Michael, Wake, Nicola and Smith, Emma (eds.) Consent: Domestic and Comparative Perspectives. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 9-24.

Vogler, Richard and Fouladvand, Shahrzad (2016) The Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988 and the global war on drugs. In: Hauck, Pierre and Peterke, Sven (eds.) International law and transnational organised crime. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780198733737

Wilson, Dean (2015) Marginalizing migrants: illegality, racialization, and vulnerability. In: Goode, Erich (ed.) The handbook of deviance. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 504-520. ISBN 9781118701423 (Accepted)

Edited Book

King, Colin and Walker, Clive, eds. (2014) Dirty assets: emerging issues in the regulation of criminal and terrorist assets.Law, Justice and Power . Ashgate, Farnham. ISBN 9781409462538