I joined the Department of Sociology in January 2013 and prior to that I worked and studied at the University of Leicester.
I'm currently a Trustee of StopHateUK, on the Board of the International Network for Hate Studies and on the Steering Committee of the British Society of Criminology Hate Crime Network. I'm a member of the British Society of Criminology, the European Society of Criminology, the British Sociological Association, and the Howard League for Penal Reform and am on the Editorial Board of Ethnic and Racial Studies. I've been the external examiner for eight doctoral theses in the areas of hate crime, rural racism, racism in sport and football disorder. I have supervised a number of research students through to completion.
University roles and responsibilities
- Head of Department
17 FEB 2021
Surrey's "Doing Porridge" project to investigate prisoners' experiences of food in women's prisons
My main areas of research are in the fields of hate crime, policing, prisons, rural racism, the far-right, community and identity, and victimisation. I've been involved in many projects in these areas, including one examining the impact of injuries suffered by police officers on duty, funded by the Police Dependants' Trust. Prior to this I was co-investigator on the Leicester Hate Crime Project, the largest study of hate crime victimisation ever undertaken. The two-year project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, investigated the experiences of those who are victimised because of their identity, vulnerability or perceived 'difference' in the eyes of the perpetrator. It examined not just the experiences of the more 'recognised' hate crime victim communities, including those who experience racist, religiously motivated, homophobic, disablist and transphobic victimisation, but also anyone who feels they have been targeted because of who they are. The research was undertaken via an extensive online and written survey of the wide range of victim communities mentioned above, complemented by hundreds of in-depth interviews with victims. The findings were summarised in a series of reports and academic journal articles, available from the project website. It is hoped that the findings will benefit potential and actual victims of hate crime, community groups, networks and associations, the police, local authorities, Victim Support, the Ministry of Justice and Home Office, and charities and third sector organisations.
Prior to the Leicester Hate Crime Project I have been awarded research grants from the Home Office (to evaluate police diversity training); Leicester City Council (to conduct an audit of the local African Caribbean community); the European Union (to examine the issue of racism in football); and Greater Manchester Police (to evaluate police diversity training). I have also undertaken a number of projects examining the issue of rural racism, funded by three rural constabularies (Suffolk, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire) and associated partners. I have published six books: Racism and Anti-racism in Football (with Mike Rowe); The Future of Football (with Mike Rowe and Dominic Malcolm), Youth Culture, Popular Music and the End of 'Consensus' (with the Subcultures Network), and (all with Neil Chakraborti) Rural Racism, Responding to Hate Crime: The Case for Connecting Policy and Research, and Hate Crime: Impact, Causes, and Consequences (now onto its second edition). I have also had numerous journal articles and reports published on issues of racism, community safety, hate crime, policing, cultural criminology, and identity.
From September 2021 I will be working on the ESRC-funded project 'Doing Porridge: Understanding women’s experiences of food in prison | University of Surrey' and the British Academy-funded 'Food, Families and Visiting Rooms in a Women’s Prison' with colleagues Maria Adams and Vicki Harman.
Current Teaching and Supervision
- Hate Crime (level six undergraduate)
- Dissertation supervision (undergraduate and postgraduate)
I am interested in supervising PhDs in the areas of hate crime, policing, public order, the far-right, football, and victimology. For more more details about our PhD programme, please go to: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/department-sociology/study/postgraduate-research
Courses I teach on
This article provides an analysis of the ‘affordances’ and ‘constraints’ of technology-mediated police-community engagement in the United Kingdom (UK). Whilst there has been optimism that social media may transform police communicative practice and help democratise policing, studies suggest that this potential has yet to be realised. Drawing on in-depth interviews with communications professionals, the article demonstrates that social media may afford constabularies visibility, editability, and association. However, organisational, individual and technological factors influence whether these affordances are achieved. This article adds to the literature by demonstrating how citizen engagement with mediated communication is not inevitable. It is instead a product of what the technology affords, the relationship between the technology and its users, and the context within which it is used.
This paper examines the significance of experiences and understandings of targeted harassment to the identities of youth subcultural participants, through case study research on goths. It does so against a context of considerable recent public discussion about the victimisation of alternative subcultures and a surprising scarcity of academic research on the subject. The analysis presented indicates that, although individual direct experiences are diverse, the spectre of harassment can form an ever-present accompaniment to subcultural life, even for those who have never been seriously targeted. As such, it forms part of what it is to be a subcultural participant and comprises significant common ground with other members. Drawing upon classic and more recent understandings of how subcultural groups respond to broader forms of outside hostility, we show how the shared experience of feeling targeted for harassment tied in with a broader subcultural discourse of being stigmatised by a perceived ‘normal’ society. The role of harassment as part of this, we argue, contributed to the strength with which subcultural identities were felt and to a positive embrace of otherness.
In recent years the European Union (EU) has witnessed rising levels of hate crime. However, although there have been a number of legislative and other policy initiatives introduced across the EU to combat such offences, these have developed in a piecemeal and sometimes half-hearted fashion. This article outlines the difficulties evident in theorizing hate crime and how these problems have been reflected in the divergent ways that hate crime legislation has developed across the EU. It argues that an approach to combating hate crime based on human rights, which is endorsed by many EU institutions, has failed to tackle the problem effectively and has resulted in the uneven protection of hate crime victim groups. By utilizing an individual rather than a group-based human rights approach, the damaging nature and effect of such ‘targeted victimization’ upon all hate crime victims can be better understood and addressed.
This chapter reflects upon the contemporary state of the relationship between policy makers, practitioners and academics, and suggests that much still needs to be done before these domains, with their often very different priorities and perspectives, can work consistently well together. While a number of chapters in this volume have outlined ways in which the theoretically-driven world of academia has interacted successfully with its ‘hard-bitten’ practitioner equivalent, too often the domains have viewed each other with a degree of mutual scepticism, with neither holding the work of the other in particularly high regard. The chapter warns that unless the different domains can learn to eradicate this ‘clash of understandings’ then there is a danger that much of the work around hate crime will merely sustain a self-serving ‘industry’ which lacks the capacity to make a meaningful difference to the lives of victims of these offences.
This chapter is a reflexive account of the advent and development of a grassroots campaigning charity that seeks to combat prejudice directed againstthose from an alternative subculture. It contains extended abstracts from an interview with Sylvia llancaster, head of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation
This engaging and thought-provoking text provides an accessible introduction to the subject of hate crime. In a world where issues of hatred and prejudice are creating complex challenges for society and for governments, this book provides an articulate and insightful overview of how such issues relate to crime and criminal justice. It offers comprehensive coverage, including topics such as: •Racist hate crime •Religiously motivated hate crime •Homophobic crime •Gender and violence •Disablist hate crime The book considers the challenges involved in policing hate crime, as well as exploring the role of the media. Legislative developments are discussed throughout. Chapter summaries, case studies, a glossary, and advice on further reading all help to equip the reader with a clear understanding of this nuanced and controversial subject. Hate Crime is essential reading for students and academics in criminology and criminal justice.
Greater Manchester Police’s categorisation of targeted attacks on ‘alternative subculture’ members as hate crimes prompted extensive debate about whether such incidents are comparable to those of recognised hate crime groups. Hate crime experts have contributed to this debate but there is a lack of detailed empirical research on the subject. Drawing on qualitative interviews with twenty-one respondents mostly affiliated to the goth scene, this paper uncovers extensive experience of verbal harassment and, for some respondents, repeated incidents of targeted violence. The nature and impact of such experiences, we argue, bears comparison with key facets of hate crime. Such evidence informs and underlines the importance of conceptual arguments about whether hate crime can or should be extended beyond recognised minority groups.
On a number of occasions throughout 2009 and 2010 violent clashes occurred between white and Asian males, anti-fascist demonstrators and the police in city centres in the United Kingdom. These disturbances involved a new organisation, the English Defence League (EDL), which claims to oppose ‘radical Islam’. This article charts the growth of the EDL and the affiliated Casuals United, and examines their motivations and ideologies. It assesses their links with football hooligan ‘firms’, and whether these links mean that the EDL has a large pool of violent ‘footsoldiers’ at its disposal, and concludes that the EDL’s Islamophobic views and provocative street army tactics mean that it poses the most serious threat to public order and community cohesion since the heyday of the National Front in the 1970s.
The decision taken by Greater Manchester Police in 2013 to recognise attacks against members of alternative subcultures as hate crimes has reignited the debate regarding which groups are officially classified as hate crime victim groups and which are not. The case for including alternative subcultures under the hate crime rubric, and some of the key arguments against it, are debated within this chapter. We suggest that, although greater research is needed into the issue, various aspects of the victimisation of alternative subcultures appears to be comparable with that of recognised hate crime victim groups, including the frequency and nature of ‘low-’ and ‘high-level’ incidents, and their impact upon the victim and, crucially, those in their community. We also discuss some concerns about extending the concept of hate crime in this way, noting, for example, the possibility of ‘watering down’ the concept of hate crime by including groups that have not been historically marginalised in the manner that already recognised victim groups have. We also identify difficulties with defining exactly who can be categorised as ‘alternative’. We suggest that, if accepted, the inclusion of alternative subcultures may open the way for equally compelling claims from other targeted groups that do not currently fall under the hate crime umbrella which could, in turn, prompt more fundamental re-evaluations of the concept of hate crime itself.
This article examines the forms and impact of violence against those from alternative subcultures. It draws upon the findings from interviews and focus groups undertaken with over 60 participants from a range of alternative subcultural backgrounds, conducted as part of a broader two-year study of many different strands of targeted victimisation. The article suggests that ‘alternatives’ are subject to a wide range of harassment, from ‘low-level’ abuse such as verbal insults through to more extreme acts of violence. This can affect their physical and mental health, causing them to change the way they conduct their everyday lives. However, the article suggests that some of this victimisation forms part of ongoing conflict with a group that participants describe as ‘chavs’ that has hitherto been unacknowledged by hate crime scholars. This ‘little war’ is characterised by mutual hostility and antipathy flavoured by class antagonism that can escalate into violent confrontation.
This article will assess the difficulties and misunderstandings that prevent hate crime academics and practitioners from working together more productively. It will be argued that many of these problems stem from the different occupational cultures across the two spheres, which can generate varying expectations, values and practices that exacerbate problems in working relationships. Some of these difficulties relate to differing understandings of what hate crime actually is and how to counter it. The article suggests that by gaining in-depth knowledge of each other’s working methods and outputs, perhaps by being involved in formal and informal joint projects that necessitate flexibility and the development of shared approaches, academics and practitioners can devise more nuanced interventions that deal with the harms of hate crime more effectively.
This article considers the processes through which some police officers with mental ill-health experience stigmatisation in police organisations. Situated in the sociological framework of Goffman (1963) and in modified labelling theory (Link et al. 2004, inter alia) it draws on the findings of a qualitative study and examines the sources of stigma embedded in police work, the consequences of stigma for the labelled officer, the nature of any resistance to the application of the label, and approaches to challenging stigma within the policing context. It suggests that in order to tackle these negative attitudes constabularies must do more to address the processes of stigmatisation associated with mental ill-health at the individual and institutional levels.
Over the last few decades racism has been criminalised within English football. New offences have been created that outlaw racist abuse within stadia and there is considerable evidence that police and stewards enforce these prohibitions. In addition, formal and informal campaigns run by football authorities, clubs and supporters have created an environment where racism is now normatively unacceptable. Collectively, however, these developments represent an ambiguous progress. The ‘victory’ of antiracism is hollow because it has developed as part of a wider transformation of football into a commodified spectacle. Clashes between elite sportsmen involving racism are condemned in the context of their status as celebrities – icons who have transgressed. Other problems within the game that might be associated with racism – most obviously the continuing under-representation of Asian people as players and of all BME communities in non-playing roles – remain largely unaddressed. Where once the game was innovative and at the forefront of antiracism campaigns it now risks becoming complacent unless a broader understanding of institutional aspects of racism are addressed.
This article analyses the issues involved with deciding which identity groups are categorized as specific hate crime victim groups and which are not. It assesses whether theories of hate crime based around hierarchical notions of group dominance and subordination are helpful in determining which groups should be included under the hate crime 'umbrella'. Through a discussion of the victimization of disabled people, the elderly and the homeless, the article outlines key concepts - relating to community, risk, harm and vulnerability - that are central to comprehending the nature of the abuse that they suffer. It also notes the common misreading of 'low-level' targeted harassment as anti-social behaviour, and assesses the impact this has upon the development of a more in-depth understanding of the circumstances of victims. The article also highlights the problems with using collective terms like 'communities' or 'groups' in this context, as such entities can be very diverse - indeed 'separate' groups often intersect with each other. As an alternative, it is suggested that moving the debate away from collective terminology towards an understanding of the risk of targeted victimization that individuals face would be helpful when trying to assess the circumstances of disabled people, the elderly and the homeless, who currently are still at the margins of the hate debate. © The Author(s) 2011.
This article draws on qualitative interviews to examine police officers’ experiences of transitioning to retirement in the United Kingdom, a matter that has been hitherto under researched. We find that the well-established routines and the social identity conferred by the police role are severed at retirement and the transition to retirement may be experienced as disruptive. This has implications for self-esteem, access to support, and perceptions of fairness of the organisation. However, we further argue that retirement is a multidimensional concept and experienced differently, depending on the context and circumstances in which it occurs. When officers are underprepared or retired for medical reasons, the transition was especially disruptive. The article makes important contributions to the literature on police officer social identity, well-being, and organisational justice.
© the Editors and contributors 2004. All rights reserved.Rural issues are currently attracting unprecedented levels of interest, with the debates surrounding the future of 'traditional' rural customs and practice becoming a significant political concern. However, the problem of racism in rural areas has been largely overlooked by academics, practitioners and researchers who have sought almost exclusively to develop an understanding of racism in urban contexts. This book aims to address this oversight by examining notions of ethnic identity, 'otherness' and racist victimisation that have tended to be marginalised from traditional rural discourse.
Rural villages are often portrayed as problem-free, idyllic environments characterized by neighbourliness and cultural homogeneity. Drawing upon the growing body of research into issues of rural racism, this article challenges these prevailing notions by highlighting some of the problems associated with the increasing ethnic diversity of rural populations. The article begins by addressing the symbolic importance given to the English countryside by many of its white inhabitants, and assesses how this is related to romanticized feelings of national identity, 'localism' and narrow invocations of village 'communities'. It is argued that village space is not neutral but is instead racialized and contested, and that it is feelings of insecurity among white rural populations, exacerbated by the presence of a markedly different 'other', that results in the marginalization of minority ethnic groups from mainstream community activities. It is also suggested that these groups are often subjected to racist victimization, which can go unrecognized by local agencies. This clearly has implications for policing diversity in the rural, and the article explores ways in which the public police (and other rural agencies) could begin to develop a more nuanced understanding of the diversification of rural space and the 'othering' of outsider populations. © 2007 SAGE Publications.
In times of increasing pressures on the police service, looking after the well-being of its staff has never been more paramount. However, there has been little academic consideration either of the nature of organisational support for officers injured in the line of duty, nor of the implications for injured officers and constabularies. This article aims to fill this lacuna by drawing on interviews with police officers in England and Wales to examine officers’ perceptions and experiences of organisational support following injury on duty. We report that in the context of perceptions of cynical attitudes of leaders regarding injury, the organisational devolution of responsibility for recovery to the officer, and in the limited nature of the provision of interventions designed to aid recovery, injured officers described how they lacked support, were dealt with inappropriately, and were approached unsympathetically and sceptically. This left officers feeling cut off in the aftermath of injury. The article contributes to the burgeoning literature on the role of organisational justice by providing insights into why fairness judgements are important to officers. We suggest that uncertainty and anxiety in the aftermath of injury was the prism through which organisational responses to their injury were interpreted by officers and found to be wanting. Police organisations therefore need to fully understand this process as a first step in developing improved policies and practices that provide the help and support officers need when they are injured and feeling especially vulnerable.
This article suggests that the concepts of vulnerability and ‘difference’ should be focal points of hate crime scholarship if the values at the heart of the hate crime movement are not to be diluted. By stringently associating hate crime with particular strands of victims and sets of motivations through singular constructions of identity, criminologists have created a divisive and hierarchical approach to understanding hate crime. To counter these limitations, we propose that vulnerability and ‘difference’, rather than identity and group membership alone, should be central to investigations of hate crime. These concepts would allow for a more inclusive conceptual framework enabling hitherto overlooked and vulnerable victims of targeted violence to receive the recognition they urgently need.
Since the summer of 2009 in the United Kingdom there have been a number of violent clashes amongst white and south Asian males, anti-fascist demonstrators, and the police. These disturbances have centred around the activities of a new far-right grouping, the English Defence League (EDL), which claims to oppose ‘radical Islam’. This article charts the growth of the EDL and examines its motivations and ideologies. It argues that the increasing influence of this organisation reflects wider socio-economic and political processes, and in particular needs to be understood in light of the contemporary state of ‘post-politics’ in which the UK is embroiled. Drawing on our own empirical research, we argue that the growth in popularity of the EDL amongst some segments of England’s marginalised and disenfranchised white working class must be understood in the context of the failure of mainstream political discourses to reach out to these communities, who have instead turned to the EDL as an organisation through which they can vent their anger at the ‘Islamic other’ rather than at the political and financial classes that are the real source of their disadvantage.
The murder of Sophie Lancaster in August 2007 in Lancashire, England, made national headlines, both for the brutal nature of the assault upon her and also because she had been attacked solely due to her ‘alternative’, gothic appearance. At the trial of her teenage assailants the judge surprisingly referred to the incident as a ‘hate crime’, apparently viewing the targeting of her ‘difference’ as being the key defining factor of what constitutes such a crime. This article will examine the validity of this assumption by analysing the characteristics of the assault upon Lancaster and also the nature, extent and impact of the harassment of goths and ‘alternatives’ more generally. It will assess the degree to which this type of victimisation is similar to that experienced by minority communities, such as gay, transgender, minority ethnic and disabled, who are routinely categorised, by both academics and practitioners, as being hate crime victim groups. The article will conclude that although there are inherent problems with classifying attacks upon goths as hate crimes, it may nonetheless be time to view the targeting of difference as being the most important aspect of what is, and is not, considered a hate crime.
Rural issues are currently attracting unprecedented levels of interest, with the debates surrounding the future of 'traditional' rural customs and practice becoming a significant political concern. However, the problem of racism in rural areas has been largely overlooked by academics, practitioners and researchers who have sought almost exclusively to develop an understanding of racism in urban contexts. This book aims to address this oversight by examining notions of ethnic identity, 'otherness' and racist victimisation that have tended to be marginalised from traditional rural discourse.