Sights, Sounds and Art: New Directions in Criminal Justice Research


Criminal justice scholars are well-versed with textual sources. But what are the sights and sounds of criminal justice? What art forms challenge and advance the boundaries of criminal justice scholarship?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a technological revolution in empirical research, with people rapidly eliminating the need for face-to-face contact through software. But how do – or should – researchers navigate the various legal, ethical and practical challenges posed by such technological tools?

This seminar series of monthly 2-hour events provided a platform for scholars who are forging innovative ways of doing criminal justice research in different parts of the world. Speakers were not only encouraged to reflect on the deployment of these methods during the pandemic, but also to explore their strengths, limitations and ethical implications more generally. 

Events took place either face-to-face or virtually. However, all face-to-face events were livestreamed for registered attendees.

8 September 2021 - The sights of criminal justice

This event focused on visual methods of research, including an analysis of visual and audio-visual materials, as well as photo elicitation techniques, where research participants capture their experiences in images rather than words. Among other advantages and drawbacks, this session examined how traditional power imbalances between the ‘researcher’ and the ‘researched’ can be disrupted through visual methods. 

Location: Virtual

Times: 2pm - 4pm

Chair: Dr Gilly Sharpe (Sheffield)

Panellists: Dr Michael Fiddler (Greenwich) and Dr Maggie Wykes (Sheffield)

Dr Alpa Parmar (Oxford) has had to withdraw from the event due to unforeseen circumstances. You can still view her abstract and bio by clicking on the link below.

Find out more about the speakers of this event.

13 October 2021 - The sounds of criminal justice

Despite technology pervading our lives, easily accessible and asynchronous technologies like Whatsapp voice-notes remain under-utilised modes of operationalising criminal justice projects. An emergent body of scholars has also begun to use aural sources to analyse how sounds constitute penal environments, including prisons. This panel focused on novel research methods that deploy the 'sounds of criminal justice' to understand criminological institutions or phenomena.

Location: School of Law, Bartolomé House, Winter Street, Sheffield S3 7ND (Room: Moot Court). This event was livestreamed for registered attendees.

Times: 2pm - 4pm

Chair: Dr Lindsey Rice (Sheffield)

Panellists: Dr Leila Ullrich (Queen Mary's), Dr Kate Herrity (Cambridge) and Dr Mark Brown (Sheffield)

Find out more about the speakers of this event.

10 November 2021 - The art of criminal justice

This event focused on the dual role of art in generating criminal justice data and impact. One influential method explored in this event was forum theatre, where audience members were invited to disrupt and shape the trajectory of a play depicting intractable criminal justice problems. The event also examined how art is deployed as evidence within the criminal justice system. For instance, how is art produced by members of marginalised groups, such as rap music, used in trials against them?

Location: Virtual

Times: 1pm - 3pm

Chair: Dr SJ Cooper-Knock (Sheffield)

Panellists: Dr Roxana Willis (Oxford), Dr Lambros Fatsis (Brighton), Dr Layla Skinns (Sheffield) and Charlie Barnes (Dead Earnest Theatre)

Find out more about the speakers of this event.

8 December 2021 - Keynote speech delivered by Dr Jo Deakin (The University of Manchester)

Location: School of Law, Bartolomé House, Winter Street, Sheffield S3 7ND (Room: Moot Court). Please note that we will livestream this event for registered attendees.

Times: 2pm - 4pm

Chair: Dr Mark Brown (Sheffield)

Find out more about the speakers of this event.

We provided British Sign Language interpretation for all events. If speakers are using Powerpoint for their talk, we did our best to share their presentations at least 48 hours before the relevant event. Please check the relevant event pages to access the presentations. All events were recorded, with the video (including BSL interpretation) uploaded at a later date. Accessibility related information about the venue for face-to-face events is available here.

For any questions or comments regarding this series, you can email and 

At the end of the series, we inaugurated a network of criminal justice academics who are interested in using novel research methods. If you would like to be a part of this network, please contact

This event series is generously supported by the British Society of Criminology and the School of Law, University of Sheffield.

About the organisers

Dr Arushi Garg is a lecturer in criminal law at the University of Sheffield, and an Articles Editor at the Indian Law Review. Her research focuses on rape prosecutions in India, and she has signed a contract with Oxford University Press to publish a monograph on this topic. She has previously published her findings in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, including Social and Legal Studies, for which she also received an award from the Asian Law and Society Association. Prior to the lectureship, Arushi read for the DPhil, MPhil and BCL at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and a Mann Senior Scholar. 

Image of Arushi Garg

Dr David Thompson is a Lecturer in Criminology and joined the School of Law in December 2014. Dave is an Assistant Director of the Centre for Criminological Research at the University of Sheffield. His research focuses on the reintegration of sex offenders and the role of the voluntary sector in criminal justice. He has co-authored a book on the Resettlement of Sex Offenders after Custody with Prof Terry Thomas published by Routledge, as well as co-authored articles on the subjects of Circles of Support and Accountability, sexual offending, and the management of people with convictions for sex offences.

Image of David Thompson

Dr Mark Brown is Director of the Centre for Criminological Research in the School of Law at University of Sheffield. He has a background in research on prisons and punishment, risk and dangerous offenders, colonial penal history, postcolonial penalities and more recently in the nascent formation of southern criminology. He is currently an advisor to the UN on prisons and penal reform and has undertaken evaluations of the UN Office in Vienna and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. 

Image of Mark Brown

With a background in the creative industries, Catherine is a doctoral researcher funded by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities. Her PhD explores the legal framework surrounding literary practices such as fanfiction. Catherine’s research interests lie at the intersection of copyright history, feminist legal theory, literary theory and media studies.

Image of Catherine

We are grateful for organisational support received through the University of Sheffield. We are especially grateful to Adam McSweeney, Arti Tailor, Gareth Braid, Julie Bradley, Leah McAteer and Tia Murphy.