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Joanna Perry

MRes Law

I did my first degree in the 1990s, then a Postgraduate Diploma in Law, at the College of Law in London. I wanted to continuing studying law, but develop my research. I chose Birkbeck for a Masters in Law both because Birkbeck has an excellent reputation and because it provides education for those working full time – so you meet other students who are in similar situations to yourself.

Understanding and addressing hate crime has been an interest of mine since about 2001; and because of this and my research into the policies in this area, I knew of Professor Les Moran, and his work with the Metropolitan Police. So he was another factor which drew me to Birkbeck. Birkbeck’s reputation is for practical research that influences policy; so I was confident I’d find at Birkbeck the intellectual space to think about issues that would inform my work.

I was working at the charity Victim Support while I was studying for my Masters, on policy around family members bereaved by homicide and domestic violence. My Master’s thesis was on hate crime law, and my supervisor was indeed Les Moran. I gained my Masters in Research in November 2006, the subject of my dissertation being disability hate crime. I then moved into a role at the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) to work on disability hate crime, using my research to develop the CPS response to disability hate crime, and as the basis for the first major speech from the Director of Public Prosecution on this subject. [For Masters programmes in Criminal Justice click here]

I wanted to gain some international experience, so I moved to my current role as Hate Crime Officer, for the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). The role is based in the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR), which is hosted by the Polish government in Warsaw. I am also the co-chair of the International Network of Hate Studies, with Barbara Perry (no relation!), which aims to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice.

Birkbeck gave me a grounding in research skills, so that I can produce the ODHIR annual report, which is just one of the ways Birkbeck’s research culture has an international reach. I did some teaching for Birkbeck’s Criminal Justice Masters, which gave me a different sort of interaction with the researchers at the Law School - as colleagues – and the opportunity to develop new skills, and influence that cohort of students. This kind of teaching is very relevant and grounded – the class benefited not only from my experiences, but from the opportunity to hear from additional perspectives than mine e.g. from those students working in prisons or probation.

Birkbeck is unique in providing evening tuition, but it’s more than just about the convenient scheduling of classes. It’s not just about the hours, it’s the philosophy. Birkbeck academics like Les Moran have a gift, they give an amazing resource to people who haven’t been to university for a while or ever. They help you use in your studies what you’re dealing with every day at work; and they enable you to interact with people who have lived a bit, who want to examine what they are doing.

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'I was confident I’d find at Birkbeck the intellectual space to think about issues that would inform my work.'