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Violence Research Centre



December 2021

Beyond the Headlines: Human Smuggling across the Channel

Dr Paolo Campana, Associate Professor, VRC, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

We are delighted to launch a new series of VRC webinars, called "Beyond the Headlines". These are occasional seminars in which VRC experts and invited guests discuss major issues that have gained attention in the news. On Monday 6 December 2021 at 5pm, Dr Paolo Campana, Associate Professor, VRC, delivered the first seminar, entitled “Beyond the Headlines: Human Smuggling across the Channel”. The recent Channel crossing tragedy and the bickering between French and UK governments over migrant crossings have shed a spotlight on human smuggling across the Channel. Paolo Campana, an expert in human smuggling and organised crime, examines the situation and responds to questions from the audience.


April 2021

Contested Public Space: Public sexual harassment and women’s safety work

Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, Department of Sociology, Durham University, author of The Right Amount of Panic: How women trade freedom for safety

The abduction and murder of Sarah Everard in London in March of this year was followed by an outpouring of grief and rage from women across the world. Many took to online spaces to document for the first time the range of habitual forms of safety work they perform in public in response to the threat and reality of public sexual harassment. This safety work, mandated for women and girls in public, functions to limit women’s space for action and responsibilise them for preventing violence. Despite this, the impact of public sexual harassment has been rarely studied academically. Drawing from one of the first in-depth studies of the phenomenon conducted in the UK, this webinar will discuss the range and extent of public sexual harassment on women and girls and explore what their articulations of safety work reveal of the tension between freedom and safety. Speaker's profile is here. Link to paper (open access):


January 2021

The Relationship of Conspiracy Beliefs and Violent Extremism

Bettina Rottweiler, Department of Security and Crime Science, University College London

Paul Gill, Department of Security and Crime Science, University College London

A series of recent right-wing terrorist attacks have occurred across the U.S., Germany and New Zealand. What all of these attacks had in common was that each perpetrator referenced conspiracy theories such as the great replacement theory or white genocide in their manifestos. Additionally, the fringe conspiracy theory QAnon has been identified as a playing crucial role for domestic security, which has the potential to lead to domestic acts of terrorism. These incidents suggest a functional role of conspiracy theories within violent extremism. Find out more here. Link to the paper:


December 2020

Institute of Criminology event hosted by the Violence Research Centre

Body-worn Cameras in Policing: the Evidence on what Works

Prof Eisner joined Dr Peter Neyroud, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge and co-chair of the Campbell Collaboration Crime and Justice Coordinating Group as convenor. Speakers included Prof Cynthia Lum, George Mason University, Chief Constable Andy Marsh, Avon & Somerset Police, Dr Alex Sutherland, Behavioural Insights Team and Ms Asheley Van Ness, Arnold Ventures. Read more about this event and find a link to the recording here.


July 2020 

Institute of Criminology event hosted by the Violence Research Centre

Dexter Dias, QC: The killing of George Floyd: “Race”, racism and racialised justice in the US and UK 

Why did the death of a Black man in Minnesota trigger demonstrations across the globe?  Human rights barrister Dexter Dias QC, who for 30 years has represented the families of BAME people killed in state custody in the UK, decodes the ‘moment’ by examining racialised justice in the UK and US across time and social space, showing how the production of “race” as a form of knowledge operates to enforce and justify ethno-racial domination.  

Bio: Dexter Dias QC is an award-winning international human rights lawyer who has acted in some of the highest profile cases in recent years involving freedom of expression, murder, crimes against humanity, terrorism, FGM and genocide.  He is an alumnus of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, where he remains a Visiting Scholar, and was recently a Visiting Fellow at Harvard.  His internationally published bestselling book The Ten Types of Human is based on his research into the interface between human rights and human psychology.  He was chief author of a report to Parliament that helped change the law on FGM to better safeguard at-risk girls.  He is Special Adviser on human rights to UNICEF UK, and Chair of the Global Media Campaign to End FGM.  He is advising the UN on a massive social justice project around Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality, and is co-presenter and producer of the podcast The 100 Types of Human. Twitter: @DexterDiasQC


June 2020 

Institute of Criminology event hosted by the Violence Research Centre

Prof Lawrence Sherman: Targeting American Policing: Rogue Cops or Rogue Culture?

US policing is very heterogeneous, with 18,000 autonomous local departments, most of them small and poorly trained. Some are wonderful, many are racist, all are concerned with being respected. Most officers never do anything close to horrible. A few do, and predictably so. Which should we prefer: “pre-crime” for police dismissals before they kill citizens, or a more radical abolition of current police forces in favour of a highly educated professional body?


Institute of Criminology event hosted by the Violence Research Centre

Prof Monica Bell: Legal Estrangement, Policing, and the Problem of Segregation in America

Associate Professor of Law & Sociology, Yale Law School


April 2020

Prof Manuel Eisner: Crime in Times of the Pandemic. An Outline of Research Issues


Dr Peter Neyroud, Prof Manuel Eisner & Prof Amy Nivette: Social Distancing in the Pandemic: Policing and Compliance


Do check our new Covid-19 page for more research findings


Conferences, Symposia and Workshops

Photo: Lucinda Price


2nd Evidence for Better Lives Symposium, 25 November 2019, Webb Library, Jesus College, Cambridge

Addressing Violence against Children in Eight Cities across the World. Lessons Learned from the EBLS Foundational Study. You can find the programme here.


2019 Symposium: The Real Gold Standard: Measuring Counterfactual Worlds That Matter Most to Policy

What research evidence do we need to inform policy about what works? Are experiments the ‘Gold Standard’ for establishing causal effects that matter for important policy goals in education, welfare, prevention and policing?


Evidence for Better Lives Conference 2018

Evidence for Better Lives: Cohort Studies as a Vehicle for Improving Global Child Psychosocial Health. In this seminar we invited representatives from three major UK-based cohort studies to provide an overview of their studies, the design and research questions, the ways in which the studies have linked research and policy, and the ways in which the findings have effectively helped to support policies related to child’s health and wellbeing.


Evidence for Better Lives Conference & Workshop 2017

The 2017 EBLS conference provided an overview of the results of the Evidence for Better Lives' feasibility study. It introduced the participating sites and partner teams and outlined the contributions that EBLS can make to research. It was followed by a  two-day workshop for the site teams and the research consortium to discuss issues such as project management, scientific innovation, data collection and policy impact strategies.


Evidence for Better Lives Workshop 2015

Each year millions of people across the world are the victims of violent acts such as physical and psychological maltreatment, sexual abuse, bullying and assault that result in trauma, injury or death. There is an in urgent need for better knowledge about the causes of violence and how it can be prevented. In particular, there is a pressing need to understand the ways in which we can most effectively intervene early in the life course to tackle victimization and perpetration risk from the very beginning of life. “Evidence for Better Lives” proposes a global, trans-disciplinary research, training and prevention programme with the overarching goal of contributing to violence reduction on a global scale. The workshop will bring creative minds around a table to start planning a developmental science mega-project: A cohort study starting at birth or pregnancy, with 6-8 sites across the world in different cultures, adopting a bio-social framework, broadly focusing on healthy child development, and possibly combined with one or several interventions.


Keeping Kids in School - Alternatives to School Exclusion Conference 2015

The aim of the conference was to situate exclusionary policies in a broader context of available policies to deal with "problem" children, for the benefit of teachers, parents, policy makers and wider society. Excluded children and young people face greater problems in later life which not only makes their lives difficult, but is also costly for society in terms of social and financial costs. This conference was part of a collaborative research project conducted by the Violence Research Centre, the charity Catch22 and the Greater London Authority. The research project, the London Education and Inclusion Project (LEIP), is a cluster randomised controlled trial of a 12-week-long intervention. It evaluates the Engage in Education – London (EiE-L) programme, delivered by Catch22. The programme works with young people in years 9 and 10 of secondary school who are most at risk of school exclusion to develop communication and broader social-behavioural skills with the goal to reduce problem behaviours. The conference highlighted the need for further rigorous research in the UK context with the aim to better support practitioners in understanding and managing issues of pupils' problem behaviours in schools.


Global Violence Reduction Conference 2014

Is it possible to cut worldwide levels of interpersonal violence in half within the coming 30 years? This question was at the centre of the first Global Violence Reduction Conference 2014, jointly organised by the University of Cambridge and the World Health Organization. The conference lured experts out of their comfort zone, asking to reflect on big strategies to reduce violence by 50% in the next 30 years. It brought together 150 leading representatives from international organisations, academia, civil society institutions and philanthropic organisations to discuss how scientific knowledge can contribute to the advancement of this violence reduction goal. The main message of the conference was that a global violence reduction by 50% in the next 30 years is achievable if policy makers harness the power of scientific evidence on violence reduction. The Global Violence Reduction Conference provided an academic complement to the WHO's "Milestones in a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention" meetings with the aim to review the recent policy progress and define targets for the Global Violence Prevention Field. The experts identified the existing knowledge and developed a number of key policy recommendations to support the goals of the Global Violence Prevention Field. The conference findings and policy recommendations are summarised in the report "Global Strategies to Reduce Violence: Findings from the WHO and University of Cambridge Global Violence Reduction Conference 2014".