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We are proud of the difference the knowledge we create through our research makes to the world, benefitting individuals, communities, and the economy. 

Examples of work from the REF21 include:

Rebecca Oswald 

Young people's desistance from crime 

For a number of years, I have been investigating Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE) and their role in supporting criminalised individuals desist from crime. In 2017, I conducted a 3-year funded PhD project exploring how a WISE which provided outdoor employment for criminalised youths in Northern England supported young people’s desistance. A mixed methods approach, including ethnographic work and narrative interviews with young employees aged 16-18, revealed that to aid the formation of a stronger pro-social identity and encourage desistance, the young people’s social exclusion needed to be addressed; they needed to be able to envision a credible ‘future self’ that is a valued part of conventional society. Particularly valuable for this was the ability to partake in ‘meaningful’ employment at the WISE, such as work that connected them to nature, or involved helping others in some way. By contrast, many forms of contemporary ‘precarious’ employment available to these young people did not provide the necessary social inclusion and occupational identity to aid desistance. I am now continuing this research with several WISE which provide employment for adults in Scotland. I seek to explore further the ways in which WISE can support criminalised individuals desist, particularly focusing on those WISE that provide temporary supported employment placements to encourage a transition to mainstream employment and those that act as end-employers for those with an offending history.    

For more information, please contact Dr Rebecca Oswald


Pam Davies 

Improving policing of domestic abuse through enhancing multi-agency coordination 

Professor Pam Davies’ research at Northumbria University identifies how a focus on the multifaceted dynamics of victimisation, and on the challenges of marshalling effective criminal justice responses, can improve domestic abuse strategies, policies, and outcomes. This is a key policy challenge, as recent reviews by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2014, 2015, and 2016 all relate serial failings in the policing of domestic abuse. Davies’ research not only initially benefitted Northumbria Police by enhancing the effectiveness of one local approach, MultiAgency Tasking And Coordination (MATAC), but directly lead to the national rollout of a further innovative integrated approach called the Domestic Abuse Whole Systems Approach (DAWSA) more widely across criminal justice and community safety agencies. In particular, the latter’s methodology is designed to ensure the coordination of multiple criminal justice and social support agencies in identifying, preventing, and remedying domestic violence by working with perpetrators and victims. DAWSA has been adopted by multiple police forces across the North of England and beyond – Cleveland, Durham, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and Humberside. It has also guided policy in North Wales and Northamptonshire, and benefitted charities such as Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance. It now informs the Domestic Abuse Bill presently proceeding through Parliament. 


Davies, P., Barlow, C. & Fish, R. (2023) The hard and complex work of implementing new multi-agency risk assessment approaches to policing domestic abuse. Crime Prevention and Community Safety 25, 148–165. 

For more information, please contact Professor Pam Davies.


Sarah Soppitt 

Serious Youth Violence and First Time Entrants to the YJS in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 

In the Spring of 2020, Newcastle City Council and Northumbria University were successful in securing funding to analyse the Newcastle Youth Justice landscape; distinctive amongst the Core Cities in having a comparatively high rate of young people entering the YJS for the first time, but with relatively few going on to commit serious youth violence. The number of young people committing these high gravity crimes has remained resolutely low in Newcastle against a national background of worrying increases. The Pathfinder project in Newcastle sought to understand the factors driving this apparent divergence and extract learning points for the wider youth justice system seeking to tackle this issue. 


‘Safe spaces and places’: the value of design-led methodologies in developing online narratives | Semantic Scholar 

Toros, Karmen; Falch-Eriksen, Asgeir; Lehtme, Rafaela, Saia, Koidu; McInnes, Alison; Soppitt, Sarah; Oswald, Rebecca; Walker, Samantha (2023). Digital turn in social work education and practice. IxD&A Interaction Design & Architecture(s),  1−20 [forthcoming]. 

For more information, please contact Professor Sarah Soppitt.

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