Thinking differently about harm seminar day

On Tuesday 16th July, BSC postgraduate committee held a seminar at the University of Chester as part of the ‘thinking differently’ series. The seminar series aims to bring together academics and practitioners to critically explore contemporary issues in criminology. The seminars are a space for postgraduates to contribute to challenging taken-for-granted thinking in criminology and criminal justice.

There were two keynote speakers: Dr Vicky Canning from University of Bristol and Dr Holly White from the University of Chester. Vicky opened the day and spoke about women’s experiences of migration and the harms of those seeking asylum in Europe and stressed the importance of identifying and therefore addressing the broader social harms they experience in day to day life. Mark Bushell from Teesside University followed and led an interesting discussion about the harms faced by migrant workers in the North-East night time economy. He identified how deep rooted harms experienced by these individuals are exacerbated by a lack of regulation and support which takes away their ability to challenge them.

There were two policing perspectives on the day, the first by Wayne Cronin-Wojdat from Wrexham University told attendees that some long-serving officers he spoke to wished to take a more welfare driven approach in response by identifying the reasons behind a young person’s behaviour, but ultimately found that differing understandings of its definitions, measures of Police performance and issues with skills and training meant that, at times, a more harmful crime based approached was taken in response to anti-social behaviour. Megan Bettison from John Moores University followed and also discussed harms faced by young people subject to the prevent duty agenda. Megan highlighted the importance of inter-disciplinary research to identify the social harms associated with policy and problematic definitions within it. The final speaker of the day, Daryl Kenny, considered the policing of harms due to the significant number of incidents that the Police deal with that they define as non-crime rising due to increased social and economic inequality.

The paper from Holly White pulled together a lot of the themes presented, as she identified how harm is narrated within society through politicians and corporations and how this actually legitimises harm. The discussion that arose from the day was focused on the issue of safeguarding; how individuals who are subject to social harms are vulnerable and require support, however, they are often positioned within society as problematic and at odds with values held.

The day closed with a publishing panel led by Vicky Canning and it is hoped that the conversation will continue into important communication of the discussion through publishing opportunities disseminated to a relevant audience to evoke change and fundamentally provide opportunities to help those who are being harmed within society.

The day was well attended by postgraduates from a range of Universities across the UK. Attendees included postgraduates, lecturers and those drawn from professional practice.

The postgraduate committee would like feedback from postgraduates about the day itself and what events you wish to see in the next academic year.

Jayne Price

University of Chester

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