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ESRC WRDTP Collaborative Project: Protecting the vulnerable through neighbourhood policing


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Friday 13 March 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Source of funding
Research council
Professor Adam Crawford and Professor Stuart Lister
School of Law
Research groups/institutes
Centre for Criminal Justice Studies
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This ESRC PhD studentship is a collaboration of the University of Leeds and South Yorkshire Police. Drawing primarily on the disciplines of criminology and sociology, it will explore the recent reconfiguration of &lsquo;neighbourhood policing&rsquo; through a discourse of &lsquo;vulnerability&rsquo;. It will explore the extent to and the ways in which the emergence of &lsquo;vulnerability&rsquo; as a core priority within policing potentially reconfigures the very purpose of public policing - how &lsquo;demand&rsquo; for policing is understood, responded to, and managed - at the local, neighbourhood level. It will question whether the institutionalisation of &lsquo;vulnerability&rsquo; refocuses policing priorities and protection onto erstwhile stigmatised populations and marginalised groups, traditionally seen as problematic due to their interactions with authorities, lifestyles or circumstances, and the extent to which it potentially shifts the delivery of policing towards an emphasis on proactive prevention and harm minimisation from a public health perspective. The successful candidate will work closely with South Yorkshire Police, collecting diverse sources of data with which to interrogate the research questions including observations, interviews, focus groups and administrative data. These highly prestigious, collaborative ESRC studentships are awarded by the White Rose Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership, a leading PhD training consortium of seven universities. A key aim of the studentship is to provide the successful applicant with high quality research training and professional development opportunities. S/he will join a leading law school and become part of a vibrant and interdisciplinary community of postgraduate researchers with access to excellent training, peer group support and networking opportunities. They will be based in the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Leeds, which has an international reputation for research excellence and outstanding postgraduate training. A particular focus of the studentship is collaborative and joint working with South Yorkshire Police, the lead force in a national problem-solving and demand reduction initiative (2018 to 2021), aimed at transforming frontline practices. The successful candidate will undertake a placement with the partner, gaining experience of working in professional contexts to enhance their vocational and transferable skills. The studentship and project will also benefit from close affiliation with the N8 Policing Research Partnership, a consortium of 11 universities and police forces, which will provide additional training, learning, dissemination and impact opportunities. They will also receive close support, mentoring and guidance from the academic supervisors, Professors Stuart Lister and Adam Crawford, as well as from senior officers in South Yorkshire Police.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>This project will explore the operationalisation and implications of &#39;vulnerability&#39; as a structuring narrative for neighbourhood policing in South Yorkshire. The project has strategic importance for the collaborative partner for two key reasons. First, the local Police and Crime Plan (2017-21), a statutory requirement of PCCs, identifies &lsquo;protecting vulnerable people&rsquo; as one of three force-wide priorities. Second, it identifies how (since 2018) the force has invested heavily to &lsquo;revitalise&rsquo; neighbourhood policing, establishing dedicated teams focused on early intervention, problem-solving and the prevention of harm to vulnerable people. The project will address the following research questions:</p> <ul> <li>How is vulnerability conceived and operationalised in neighbourhood policing practices? In what ways does it refigure the role of &#39;threat, harm and risk&#39; in steering police activity?</li> <li>In what ways does the vulnerability agenda within neighbourhood policing refocus policing priorities and protection onto erstwhile stigmatised populations and marginalised groups, traditionally seen as problematic, &#39;deviant&#39; or &#39;a risk&#39; due to their interactions with authorities, lifestyles or circumstances?</li> <li>In what ways does the vulnerability agenda within neighbourhood policing shift the emphasis to prevention and harm minimisation, as contrasted with a focus on law enforcement, investigation and prosecution?</li> </ul> <p>The project design encompasses three scales. First, at the national scale, policy documents will be collated from key governmental policing institutions (e.g. the College of Policing, the Home Office, the Association of PCCs, the National Police Chiefs Council) to interrogate the national context of local policing. Second, at the organisational scale, qualitative and archival data will be collected from SYP to provide local context and generate insights of how national policy frameworks and guidance have been enacted, or of influence, at the force level. The former will comprise interviews with lead officers, the latter public-facing strategy documents and internal discussion papers and plans. Third, at the local level, empirical data will be collected from three (of 25) neighbourhood policing areas, allowing in-depth exploration of how vulnerability, as an organisational priority, is being translated into practice. This number of fieldwork sites will, within the constraints of a PhD, enable a depth of enquiry to generate insightful findings, whilst increasing rigour and generalisability. Fieldwork sites will be selected in consultation with the collaborative partner to ensure a suitable profile mix of crime and vulnerability demands.</p> <p>In Year One, the successful candidate will (a) situate developments in neighbourhood policing in contemporary academic and policy debates of its arrangement and provision; (b) chart the &lsquo;discovery&rsquo; of vulnerability within criminal justice and policing policy, exploring theoretical explanations of its emergence as a mechanism for governing, as well as how it has been drawn on conceptually to frame public policy issues. In addition, s/he will explore the organisational context, collating policy documents, securing access, developing an impact plan, and leveraging professional development opportunities. In Year Two, s/he will be seconded to SYP, collecting the empirical and documentary data. In sum, qualitative data will be collected from 15 interviews, six focus groups and 360 hours of observations. In Year Three, s/he will analyse the data collected and write up the thesis. They will begin to implement the project&rsquo;s impact plan, drafting a briefing of findings and organising other dissemination activities, including an &lsquo;end of award&rsquo; feedback workshop with the partner.</p> <p>During year two of the project, the successful candidate will undertake a structured placement of six months&nbsp;at South Yorkshire Police Headquarters in Carbrook House, Sheffield. This placement will offer a range of professional and skill development opportunities, give the student close access to mentoring by the partner, allow for feedback on&nbsp;progress, and help&nbsp;to&nbsp;generate policy and practice impact from the study. The placement will be contingent on the student undergoing criminal convictions vetting necessary for any employee of South Yorkshire Police&nbsp;and any appointment would be conditional on these checks being satisfactory.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p><strong>Stage 1</strong> - Applicants applying on both a +3 (3 year PhD) and a 1+3 (MA Social Research Interdisciplinary + 3 year PhD) basis should first of all apply for the relevant research postgraduate programme to commence 1 October 2020 on the University of Leeds<a href=""> online application</a>, clearly stating that the funding you wish to apply for is &#39;ESRC WRDTP Collaborative Studentship&#39; and the project title you are applying for.</p> <p><br /> <strong>Stage 2</strong> - Once you are in receipt of your 9-digit Student ID Number, you should complete <a href="">the online studentship application form</a> by the Scholarship deadline (17:00 p.m. (UK time) 13<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;March)</p> <p>Awards are available on +3 (PhD) basis or on a 1+3 basis (MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary) plus PhD. Applicants applying for a +3 award must demonstrate that they have already completed the full social sciences research methods training requirements at masters level. i.e. to be eligible for a +3 award, the student must demonstrate that they have already completed substantial social sciences training in research methods which would enable them to undertake an independent research project in a particular discipline or interdisciplinary field. A candidate must have at least 60 credits at M level of core social sciences research methods training acquired in the last five years. This must include a broad range of methods, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods and the use of appropriate software/tools for their application, and comprehension of principles of research design and strategy, and an appreciation of alternative approaches to research.&nbsp;</p> <p>Further details about the different schemes, pathways, eligibility criteria can be found at on the <a href="">WRDTP website</a>.</p> <p>After receipt of your studentship application, the relevant <a href="">Graduate School</a>&nbsp;can&nbsp;provide further advice on your suitability for either a +3 or 1+3 studentship and advise whether&nbsp;the MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary) is required. &nbsp;</p> <p>You will be required to provide 2 academic <a href="">references</a> in support of your studentship application.</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. &nbsp;All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. If applying on a +3 basis applicants should also have a Masters with a Merit (or expected Merit) grade in an appropriate subject area. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study in the School of Law is an IELTS of 7.0 overall with at least 6.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>Full awards provide UK/EU academic fees and a maintenance grant at standard Research Council rates (&pound;15,009 in Session 2019/20) for full-time study, together with other allowances if appropriate. EU applicants will be eligible for an award paying tuition fees only, except in exceptional circumstances, or where residency has been established for more than 3 years prior to the start of the course.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about how to apply please contact the Graduate School Office<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, t: <a href="tel:+4411334338056">+44 (0)113 34338056</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For further information about the project please contact <a href="">P</a><a href="">rofessor Stuart Lister</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>email: <a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>
<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>