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Policy impact

The School is committed to the critical study of law and institutions of justice in their political and social contexts, and its strategy reflects this commitment to law as a means of effecting social change and promoting social justice. The School has informed public and political debate in challenging established norms, modes of thought and practices in relation to, specifically, HIV law and policy; human rights and minority rights; law and development; home education; sexual diversity; and criminal justice policy.

The Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR), which is part of the School of Law, conducts academically-grounded, policy-oriented research on all aspects of the criminal justice system.  This research aims to inform public and political debate on criminal justice and to contribute to improvements in policy and practice. All ICPR’s research is informed by concerns with justice, fairness and human rights. The audiences for ICPR’s research include policy-makers, civil society organisations, criminal justice practitioners, academics and the wider public.

Research in the field of human rights and minority rights

  • Impact in international organisations such as the European Union and Council of Europe and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Professor Bill Bowring’s research and expertise in the field of human rights in general, and minority rights in particular, has contributed to the policy-making of, amongst others, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe (CoE), the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU). And his work has been influential in encouraging various countries to meet UN or CoE obligations with respect to human rights and other issues.

Home Education Law: clarifying the principles for practitioners and influencing law reform

  • Dr Daniel Monk's research about the law relating to elective home education (EHE) was a key resource for policymakers and members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords in debates about the Children, Schools and Families Bill 2010. Its argument for the introduction of compulsory registration for EHE was reflected in the Bill’s provisions. At a local level it provided overdue clarification about the current law that reassured local authorities about their legal powers and duties. Monk’s research has become the most referred to authority in a contentious field, providing a balanced, approach to the law that acknowledges parental and children’s rights.

Promoting the role of land law in economic and social development, and changing law and practice in developing and post-conflict countries

  • Professor Patrick McAuslan’s research changed the international development community’s view about the role of land law reform in sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Until his research identified how policy-makers should and could use land law reform to achieve their development aims, international agencies did not consider that land law reform had a significant role in furthering economic and social development. McAuslan disseminated and continued his research during many consultancy assignments for the World Bank (WB), the EU, UN agencies, DFID and other international development bodies. He also reviewed planning and land law in many countries, often significantly shaping the resulting legislation.

Trust in justice: mapping public attitudes towards the police and other legal institutions and how these findings have changed EU and UK policy

  • Research by Professor Mike Hough and Dr Mai Sato into public trust in the police and courts across Europe has aimed to persuade policy makers and other stakeholders that fairness is not simply a desirable feature of justice systems, but a precondition for effective justice, and that institutional legitimacy is key to justice policy. It has influenced the operational strategies of the Metropolitan Police; and been disseminated by invitation to senior staff from Cabinet Office, Home Office, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Office of National Statistics (ONS). It has also featured in the broadcast media and the national press.

How research on diversity (specifically sexual orientation) within various institutions of justice has influenced policy development and reform initiatives

  • Professor Moran’s research on perceptions, expectations and experiences of sexual orientation discrimination and how they affect the lives of those who work in the justice and legal services sector has had a two-fold impact. His research has informed policy development, reform initiatives and operational practice within the Judicial Appointments Committee. And he has raised the profile of sexual orientation which previously had not featured on the diversity agenda in the legal professional and justice sector. Raising awareness of sexual orientation as a diversity characteristic has led to campaigns and training initiatives to support career development for LGBT legal professionals.

Punitive laws, public health and HIV/AIDS: How research on criminal liability for HIV transmission and exposure has informed policy-makers, medical practitioners and others

  • Professor Weait’s research into the impact of punitive laws relating to HIV transmission and exposure and against people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) has informed the development of policy on criminal liability for HIV transmission and exposure by UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the National AIDS Trust (NAT). It has led directly to invitations to contribute at international policy fora as well as civil society and professional medical organisations. His research has been acknowledged judicially; has contributed to the UK Crown Prosecution Services’ guidelines on this issue; and involved knowledge transfer to, and consequent capacity enhancement of the activities of various interest and community groups.