Current DPhil in Family Law and Criminology: Q and A with Lucy Trafford

Lucy PearceCurrent DPhil in Family Law and Criminology: Lucy Trafford 

Why did you choose Oxford for this degree? 

I chose to study at Oxford for my DPhil in Criminology because I am interested in the intersect between law and criminology. Other universities that I had looked at applying to, appeared to have a very clear distinction between academics working within Law and Criminology. This is not the case at Oxford, where the Centre for Criminology is a part of the Law Faculty and where several academics research and teach across these fields. I have also read and admired research into domestic violence (my field of study) from notable academics at Oxford’s Centre for Criminology, such a Carolyn Hoyle, Rachel Condry and Michelle Madden Dempsey.

What is the title of your research and what is your research about?

The title of my research is currently ‘How Do Police Officers Work with and Respond to the Gender Dynamics of Male and Female Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration?’, and I am working with a South Eastern UK Police Force to understand a) how police officers understand intimate partner violence incidents b) how this perception affects their decision-making and c) whether there is any difference depending on the perpetrator's gender.

Who is your supervisor? 

My supervisor is Rachel Condry, who works on family violence and focuses on child to parent violence.

When will your research be submitted?  

I am aiming to submit my research by October 2022, although due to delays experienced because of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, this may be extended to October 2023.

How did you think of your research topic? 

I have always been fascinated by Family and Criminal Law, which I studied during my undergraduate at Oxford University. There has been a common theme in my interest, which is how and to what extent the law should be involved in policing intimate and familial relationships. While studying for my MPhil in Criminology, I found that I was very interested in the police interpretation and application of the Law and how this affects their response. These interests all converge in considering how the police respond to intimate partner violence and so this is the area of research that I have chosen to pursue.

What stands out to you in the research you have undertaken so far?

As I have not yet completed my research, I have not yet found any conclusive findings. Although, through my quantitative analysis I have found that there are several aspects of police recording that appear to correlate with gender and, similarly, gender appears to correlate with specific types of crimes. These outcomes appear more pronounced during the covid-19 pandemic and I will be researching these further through qualitative analysis of police files.

What is the importance of this project?

This project is incredibly important for two main reasons. Firstly, it can affect how the police understand, perceive and respond to intimate partner violence incidents. It can highlight any strengths and shortcomings in their approach which can then be focused on to improve future approaches. Secondly, it is hoped that through taking on board my finding, the police will be able to develop an approach that will better serve victims, perpetrators, secondary victims and the public.

How has your past research continued to feature in your current research interests or projects?

Previously I researched the relationship between gender and dating violence for my MPhil, using statistical methods to test a large data set collected by the Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood (Z-Proso) Study. Within my current research, I have been utilising these statistical skills to analyse a large data set of intimate partner violence incidents which have been recorded and provided by the police. During my undergraduate, I opted to study domestic violence as an option in Family Law and this previous study has proved invaluable in my current research and literature reviews. I have also been pursuing my previous interests in relationship violence and how gender can influence the violence perpetrated.

Where can people find more information about your work?

I am currently working on an article for the Journal of Gender Based Violence which should be published during 2022 and is entitled Policing a Pandemic: Changes in Police Response to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) During A UK National Lockdown. I have also written a chapter on feminist criminology with Loraine Gelsthorpe which will be published this year.