Forensic Conversations in Criminal Justice Settings: One-day Symposium

The criminal justice system encompasses a wide range of interactions, from police officers engaging with the public on the street to police interviews with witnesses and suspects, emergency calls, discussions between suspects and solicitors, cross-examinations in court, interventions with children embroiled in the law, jury deliberations, and managing behaviour in prisons. These conversations are the site in which the fundamental activities of the criminal justice system are accomplished, and where professional parties and people caught up in the system negotiate institutional constraints, interpersonal tensions, and opposing agendas, with life-changing consequences for the people involved.  

Researchers who study real interactions in systematic detail using conversation analysis and ethnomethodology bring radical insights into the nature of such interactions. The innovative, empirical findings they generate contribute to professional training and policy development. CRCC members Dr Emma Richardson and Dr Laura Jenkins, along with Dr Alexandra Kent (Keele University) are organising an inaugural, one-day international symposium to bring together such researchers using these methods in a warm and collegial event to facilitate networking, share novel findings, and collaborate in joint analysis of emerging projects. This free event will take place at Loughborough University and online.

About the organisers

Dr Emma Richardson (Communication and Media) is a Lecturer in Language and Social Interaction. Her research focusses on improving access to criminal justice for victim-survivors of gender-based violence by using conversation analysis, applied to legal and forensic settings. Emma works closely with police partners, examining audio recorded emergency and non-emergency police calls and video recorded investigative interviews of the public reporting domestic violence and abuse and rape and serious sexual offence. Her work informs training and guidance.

Dr Laura Jenkins (Criminology, Sociology and Social Policy) was awarded the competitive Vice Chancellor Independent Research Fellow to deliver new insights into interactions between youth justice workers and children in conflict with the law. She records children’s encounters with the youth justice service, using conversation analysis to investigate how higher-level youth justice policy and guidance, particularly the “Child First” approach with an emphasis on children’s active collaboration and engagement, gets implemented at the coal-face of service delivery. This priority work has led to Dr Jenkins’ sharing her expertise with the Youth Justice Board, the police’s Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme, and the Ministry of Justice.

Dr Alexandra Kent (Keele University) is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. Her research focuses on how individuals seek help from public institutions during times of personal difficulty or crisis. She uses conversation analysis and discursive psychology to explore how the conversations operate. She works with emergency and non-emergency police calls and non-emergency instant message conversations between the police and members of the public to explore how these types of interactions can be managed effectively and efficiently. From this work she has developed and delivered training input and guidance for police staff.

The organisers are delighted to welcome Dr Emma Tennent, as an invited speaker from the University of Wellington, who will share her findings on help-seeking in calls to the police classified as ‘family harm’.

Call for Abstracts

The organisers are currently inviting abstract submissions from researchers at all career stages and from across the globe wishing to deliver oral presentations to share recent findings or ongoing investigations arising from analysis of authentic (recorded) interactions in criminal justice settings, or data sessions in which presenters share a short audio/video clip and facilitate analytic discussion with participants. Organisers request that presenters provide a transcript adhering to the detailed Jefferson system adopted by conversation analysts. Clips can be in any language but please provide an English translation.

Presentations and data sessions can be delivered either in person or online. Please use this link to submit your abstract by Friday 31st May.

Conference registration will open in July. The organisers look forward to welcoming you in September!


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