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We sponsor research to bring about change in how women and girls are dealt with in the criminal justice system

Our research listings

Research Papers and Briefings

At the end of their year on the Griffins Society Fellowship Programme, Fellows produce a 10,000 word Research Paper on their findings. Research Papers are available here to view or download as a PDF (the size of each file is given).  

For all papers you will find the REPORT IN FULL, and also a single-page ABSTRACT.  For more recent papers, an EXECUTIVE SUMMARY is also available.

Fellows' research can be freely copied and distributed as long as the author and the Griffins Society are credited.


'No one will want to be my friend because I am a murderer - An exploration into the experience of change in women convicted of murder and who have participated in the DTC intervention at HM Prison Send'

Author: Sophie Crilly & Nujoji Calvocoressi
Published: 2024

This research explores the experiences of five women convicted of murder who have participated in the Democratic Therapeutic Community (DTC) intervention at HM Prison Send. The study aimed to understand the experience of changing sense of self and identity. A subsidiary aim is to understand the mechanisms that facilitated the reported change by paying attention to the participant’s subjective experience and the objective external constructs. This study employs the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology. Participants who completed or partially completed the intervention reported positive changes relating to their sense of self, identity, and hopes for a crime-free future. However, participants described feeling overwhelmed during their participation and encountering numerous obstacles. Notably, participants reported that the positive change was not always identifiable until after they left the DTC. This study contributes insights into the distinctive contextual factors reflected in the women's experiences.

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'What, if anything, might be utilised from different models of trauma-informed practice in providing legal support to women affected by the CJS?'

Author: Becky Fédia
Published: 2024

Incidence of trauma amongst women involved in the criminal justice system is significantly higher
than that of the general population and is regularly linked with women’s offending. In recent years
there has been growing interest in trauma-informed practice which seeks to recognise and respond
to the prevalence of trauma. This interest has spread to the criminal justice sector, with numerous
prisons, probation services and the third sector in the UK all experimenting with implementing
trauma-informed approaches. Contact with a legal professional is a common thread that runs
through many women’s journeys through the criminal justice system but, in the UK at least, has not
been explored as an area in which the aforementioned trauma-informed practices could be utilised.
Through hearing the voices of women that have worked with lawyers and the voices of lawyers
themselves, this study seeks to examine the extent to which trauma-informed approaches could be
usefully implemented at this ‘touchpoint’ in the criminal justice system and whether lawyers could
become part of the trauma-informed offer for women.

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Exploring Shame Resilience Theory (SRT) and its potential for understanding how shame affects the behaviours of women with lived experience of imprisonment

Author: Sandra Barefoot & Ruth Chitty
Published: 2022

Shame Resilience Theory (SRT) is a response to working with shaming feelings and behaviours as a way of both understanding and responding to shame (Brown, 2006, 2007, 2009). Shame is most effectively addressed through contact with those who understand and have had similar experiences, allowing for connection and empathy to self and other.

This research explores the potential for more effective use of such strategies and interventions to support women in custody. Using a case study approach, it explores the experiences of women who have participated in an SRT informed programme (RESTORE) to ascertain the potential impact of SRT on time served and on release.

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Time after Time: A study of women's transitions from custody

Author: Jean O'Neill
Published: 2016

This study stems from the author’s work as a manager with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), with particular responsibility for the INSPIRE Women’s Project. The research explores the transition of women from prison into the community through the women’s own accounts — within the context of Northern Ireland — and tests the view that, if women can sustain periods in the community following release beyond twelve weeks, the likelihood of successful re-integration is improved. The research used a longitudinal qualitative methodology centered on in-depth, life history interviews with women pre- and post-custody.

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Moving forward: empowering women to desist from offending

Author: Shelly-Ann McDermott
Published: 2012

This qualitative research explores women’s experiences of empowerment, desistance and compliance. The main objective was to capture women’s insights about their experiences of empowerment during their engagement with enforced community sentences. The questions asked were:
• What factors do women identify as important for desistance?
• What is empowerment?
• Is being empowered an important part of desistance?
• Does enforced contact with interventions empower women, or does a court order undermine empowerment?
• What contributes to women’s decisions about engagement and compliance?
The study engaged directly with seven women sentenced to woman-specific court orders delivered within London Probation. [NB. From November 2010, London Probation implemented two woman-specific Specified Activity Requirements, available within a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order. The two activities are the Structured Supervision for Women (SSW) one-to-one programme and sessions with Women Ahead at the Jagonari Women's Education and Resource Centre (WERC).]

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A woman's place? Identifying the needs of female drug users and responses in drug treatment policy and practice

Author: Patricia Trehan
Published: 2008

The approach to this research is qualitative. The original purpose of the research was to attempt to establish why some women engage well with services and achieve their care-plan goals, whilst many others recognise that they need intervention and treatment, but refuse to engage with it. However, two major factors emerged during the interview phase, and these re-directed the research to address the following questions:
• What are the real underlying causes of female drug use?
• Does the treatment system recognise them and make adequate provision for women?

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