University of Manchester CCCJ Seminar Programme 2017/18

October 4, 2017 – February 6, 2018 all-day


CCCJ Seminar Programme 2017/18 (in collaboration with Methods@Manchester)


4th October 2017, 1pm, 2.07 Humanities Bridgeford

Contrasts in Punishment and the (usually) unacknowledged feature of social science research: good fortune

Professor John Pratt, Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism, by John Pratt and Anna Eriksson, was published by Routledge in 2012.  Based on research that began in 2003 and involved six countries and four languages, visits to forty prisons and interviews with fifty ‘key players’, and examination of documents going back 200 years, the book examines how long term cultural differences are reflected in contemporary approaches to crime and punishment issues in these two clusters of societies. In this seminar, John Pratt will discuss how he went about doing this research, highlighting the importance of luck, contingency and good fortune in the development of social science research projects, as much as careful planning. 


18th October 2017, 1pm, 2.07 Humanities Bridgeford

What is crowdsourced data?

Dr Reka Solymosi, School of Law, University of Manchester

Crowdsourcing involves harnessing the information and skills of large crowds of people into one collaborative project. Advancements in technologies allow for larger scale participation than previously possible, resulting in larger volumes of data that can facilitate more fine-grained analysis. For example, in Germany, in 2012, scientists collaborated with 5000 people to capture over 17,000 samples of mosquito, resulting in the discovery of an invasive species with implications for public health. Such crowdsourced data can highlight new information for social science researchers, and by considering the mode of production of much of this data, it becomes possible to examine the experiences and perceptions of the people generating it.


7th November, 2017, 4pm, 1.218 University Place

‘ACAB? The police and the criminal justice system through the eyes of English Defence League activists’

Hilary Pilkington, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester.

The English Defence League, a ‘feet on the street’ anti-Islamist movement active in the UK since 2009, is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation whose street demonstrations often lead to drink-fuelled violent interactions with police and counter-demonstrators. Drawing on a three-year ethnographic study of English Defence League activism (2012-15), including interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events, this presentation will critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It considers the attitudes to, and interactions with, the police at EDL demonstrations as well as activists’ personal experience of the criminal justice system. Notwithstanding high rates of arrest and conviction, the study revealed widespread cooperation with, and support for, the police. This, however, is accompanied by profound criticism of the criminal justice system as a whole, expressed in the notion of a ‘two-tier’  justice system, which, activists claim, allows ‘them’ to get away with things and fails to protect or recognise injustices towards ‘us’.


8th November 2017, 1pm Hanson Room, Ground Floor, Humanities Bridgeford

Doing research with letters: lessons from the field

Dr Marion Vannier, School of Law, University of Manchester

Doing [reporting on prisons] is like looking through a keyhole: it is very difficult to get reliable information about what is going on inside a corrections facility (Schwirtz, 2015) Marion will be discussing her research methods exploring how life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, the alternative to the death penalty, had become normalized, using California as a case study.  She received over 300 letters written from men and women serving life with no parole across the state. The adventures, thrills, demands and frustrations of her research will be outlined.  She will highlight how research rarely goes to plan and how researchers are required to adapt their approach by adopting an array of research tools; being creative when using them; and more generally, remaining flexible and adjustable because the original methodological frame is likely to change due to unexpected events and realities. During this interactive workshop she will discuss the pros and cons of doing research using prisoners’ letters, and will touch upon the emotions this form of data may provoke.


22nd November, 2017, 1pm, 2.07 Humanities Bridgeford

How to… analyse criminal networks

Thomas Grund, Visiting Simon Professor and Assistant Professor University College Dublin

Abstract to follow


4th Dec 2017, 4pm, 6.206 University Place

Controlling business cartels

Jelle Jaspers, Visiting Research, Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice

Business cartels cause severe financial damage and harm consumer trust; cartel enforcement authorities use heavy penalties and whistle-blower leniency policies in their efforts to control and detect cartel behaviour. However, corporations react to increased external control by strengthening the internal control of cartels. Sanctions do not always deter sufficiently, and cartelists may use the leniency arrangement strategically. This project empirically investigates internal control mechanisms and social networks within cartels. Through case studies of detected cartels and interviews with insiders, this research aims to answer the question of what makes cartels endure and what forms of internal control play a role in this process.


6th Feb, 2018, 4pm, 2.220 University Place

Spatters and Lies: Technologies of Truth in the Sam Sheppard Case, 1954-1965

Professor Ian Burney, Director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester.

In this talk I focus on the contrasting forensic regimes involved in the celebrated 1955 trial and 1965 re-trial of Dr Sam Sheppard for the murder of his wife Marilyn. The first regime cohered around the Cleveland Coroner Dr Sam Gerber, who took charge of the scene investigation, conducted a highly publicized inquest, and provided sensational trial testimony which included his claim to have recognized the pattern of a ‘surgical instrument’ impressed on Marilyn’s bloody pillow. A second regime began to develop in the weeks following Sheppard’s conviction and centred on the eminent Berkeley criminologist Paul Leland Kirk. Kirk provided an alternative, but equally striking, reading of the blood evidence: where Gerber saw qualitative, holistic shapes, Kirk deployed a pioneering (and since celebrated) exercise in spatial reasoning based on the emerging discipline of blood spatter analysis. The acquittal of Sheppard at his 1965 retrial could be seen as an instance of modern forensic technique as a catalyst for justice – with analytical and objective methods overcoming judgements based on mere common sense and local interest. I will suggest that this simple story obscures the more interesting – and surprising – route taken by those seeking to establish Sheppard’s innocence in the decade following his incarceration. In this campaign it was the polygraph rather than spatter analysis, and the detective writer Erle Stanley Gardner and the flamboyant defence attorney F Lee Bailey rather than Kirk, that took centre stage. This twist, I will suggest, allows us to reflect on the complex relationship between forensic knowledge and the broader context in which it is produced and deployed.


There is no charge to attend these seminars but registration is essential and there is no requirement to attend all sessions. Please contact Dr Geoff Pearson to register: 

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