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May 2020 update on research understanding the influence of an early life criminal record on adult life courses

Nicola Collett, a PhD student at Keele University, is currently researching the potential influence of a criminal record acquired between the ages of 10-25, later on in adulthood. Following on from her last update in September 2019, Nicola writes here about how her research is progressing.

I am delighted to be sharing another update on my PhD research exploring the potential influence of an early life criminal record later on in adulthood.

Since my last update in 2019 I have been incredibly busy thinking about the information shared with me in the interviews and drawing together the key ideas and arguments I wish to make in my thesis. I have been busy writing draft chapters and getting essential feedback from supervisors – a very long and reflective process. I would like to again thank those who took part for sharing so many personal experiences and thoughts with me. I look forward to sharing some more detailed thesis ideas with you at a later date.

Nicola presenting at the conference in Ghent

In September 2019 I presented some preliminary findings and reflections at the European Society of Criminology conference in Ghent. I highlighted four themes emerging from my work that highlight the complexities of living with a criminal record from youth – anchoring, everlasting, uncertainty and resilience. You can read more about these by downloading these slides.  

At the event I also drew on the interviews I had conducted, emphasising the diverse range of experiences shared with me. I shared some powerful quotes* taken from my transcripts  and explained to the audience that each person I spoke to shared something unique and personal to them. No two individuals experienced the same challenges in the same way. People were surprised to hear that in England and Wales a historical youth record can be disclosed later in adulthood in such a wide range of instances. They were keen to ask further questions about the experiences of those I had spoken to and it was a real privilege to be able to share this with them.

A third important update to share is that I successfully encouraged Keele University to sign up to the Fair Chance for Students with Convictions pledge designed to improve access and participation to UK universities. Given the research I am conducting I felt it was important to ensure my institution was engaging with this and challenging their admissions policy. Keele is now one of 16 universities which have signed up to this pledge.

What’s next?

Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus I have been fortunate enough to continue working from home, albeit at a slower pace. I am pressing on with my writing whilst continually reflecting upon the work I have produced so far having video calls with supervisors where possible. As circumstances continue to change it is unclear when this project will be finished but I will continue to provide updates along the way. 

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well in these challenging times.

Written by Nicola Collett

* Direct quotes have only been used where permission has been granted via a signed consent form. Where participants did not want direct quotes used, paraphrasing has been used instead.




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