The rights and voice of children in pre-court criminal proceedings-University of South Wales KESS PhD Studentship


This is a funded PhD, including a generous stipend and tuition fees, with well-resourced circumstances for a successful scholarship.

PDC / USW MAXI 21762

Here is an exciting opportunity to study children’s rights and voices in pre-court proceedings which could lead to entirely new processes and services.

The selected candidate will apply their research skills and ambition to a piece of action research which will be co-produced with professionals and children. This research project will allow the student to develop transferable knowledge and skills, through the fieldwork, spending at least one month a year with partner agencies and KESS’ Postgraduate Skills Development course, in this most exciting and active field of social research.

This Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) project will be held in the Centre for Criminology in the Faculty of Business and Society at the University of South Wales. KESS is a programme funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) awarded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) in the Welsh Government. The PhD will be associated with Youth Justice Board (YJB) Cymru, National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) and other strategic partners. The project will focus on whether children’s rights are being protected and children’s voices are heard when they are dealt with through the informal route. Hence, this will project will full this knowledge gap in order to improve the services and processes for dealing with children. The Welsh Government Youth Justice Blueprint for Wales aims to further develop diversionary practices and a more co-ordinated approach to establish consistent rights-based practice across Wales. This project will support the partner agency YJB Cymru (and other stakeholders) to move the Welsh Government Blueprint forward in these areas.

The project is backed by YJB Cymru, which is a non-departmental public body responsible for overseeing the youth justice system in Wales.

Programme of research:

Wales has been the vanguard in diverting children from court and is committed to the delivery of children’s rights, notably through the Rights of the Children and Young People (Wales) Measure 2011 and of supporting practitioners across a wide range of disciplines to understand and implement the delivery of rights in practice.  The proportion of cases dealt with outside the formal arrest/interview/charge procedures (including the use of voluntary interviews and community resolutions away from the police station) is increasing. Whilst there have been some evaluations of out of court disposals, none have yet focused on the rights and voices of the children involved. The use of out of court disposals has a long history with their oft-cited advantages being avoiding labelling/stigma and the other harmful effects of the criminal justice system, reducing the chances of reoffending and dealing with service users more quickly and cheaply. Despite the disadvantages of formal processing through the criminal justice system, its strengths are the application of due process, transparency and the protection of rights. It is unclear whether children’s rights are being protected through the informal route.

The project will explore the use of voluntary interviews and out of court disposals (including street disposals) across different parts of Wales. Specifically, it will examine how information is presented and received by children, how they feel about participating in voluntary interviews and/or to admit to offences in relation to out of court disposals and their access to legal advice, as well as how practices can be improved in these areas.


The studentship will cover the fees for a full-time PhD programme and pay a stipend of circa £14k p.a. There is also around £9k project support costs available for consumables, travel, minor equipment, training (including the KESS Grad School) and conference attendance.

The position is available from 1st January 2020.

Eligibility of Student:

To be eligible to hold a KESS studentship, you must:

  • have a home address in East Wales area (details below)* at the time of registration.
  • have the right to take up paid work in the East Wales area* on completion of the scholarship.
  • be classified by the University as ‘home’ or ‘EU’ for tuition fees purposes according to the University’s guidelines.
  • satisfy University of South Wales’s admissions criteria: see below, qualifications and experience and application process

 *East Wales area covers:  Vale of Glamorgan / Cardiff/ Newport/ Monmouthshire/ Powys/ Wrexham/ Flintshire

Qualifications and experience:

Eligible applicants will:

  • Have a degree (2i or higher) in Criminology or a related discipline
  • An MSc in Criminology or a related discipline would be desirable
  • Possess a reasonable understanding of policing and youth justice
  • Be highly self-motivated, with capacity to learn and develop research techniques
  • Have well-developed and positively collaborative interpersonal skills, including the ability to communicate effectively with children/young people
  • Have an ability to build effective relationships with young people and understand the issues faced by vulnerable children/young people
  • Have an ability to deliver technical reports and communicate findings
  • Be willing to travel and work in police, youth justice and third sector settings
  • Application Process:To download an application package, please visit: specific funded studentships. You are required to complete an application form PLUS a brief research proposal – of no more than 1,500 words (including research context, aims and proposed methods).For any queries on eligibility, please contact:  KESS Team at Research and Innovation Services, University of South Wales: [email protected]  Tel: 01443 482578For informal enquiries or further programme information, please contact: Dr Harriet Pierpoint ([email protected])
  • Closing date for applications: midnight Sunday  27 October 2019Interviews will be held Tuesday 26th November 2019 at USW Treforest Campus
  • Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) is a pan-Wales higher-level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) programme for East Wales.