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ESRC White Rose DTP Collaborative Studentship – Alcohol, Offending and Strong-Arm Sobriety: A Qualitative Longitudinal Study of Alcohol Treatment Requirements

University of Leeds - School of Law

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Leeds
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Awards provide fees and maintenance at standard UKRI Rates (£18,622 in Session 2023/24).
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 16th February 2024
Closes: 15th March 2024

1 Award Available

Session 2024-25 - Closing Date 17:00 (UK time) 15 March 2024

Awards provide fees and maintenance at standard UKRI Rates (£18,622 in Session 2023/24). 

This PhD is a perfect opportunity for someone interested in alcohol and offending, offender rehabilitation or criminological research more widely. It is an original study of the experiences and perceptions of offenders sentenced to alcohol treatment requirements (ATRs) and stands to extend academic knowledge and shape the future delivery of criminal justice interventions around alcohol. It is founded on collaboration with Humankind, one of the biggest providers of ATRs in England.

ATRs can be attached to community or suspended sentences and were given to 5,000 offenders in 2021/22 alone (UK Government, 2023). They are intended to tackle alcohol dependence while supporting offenders in desisting from crime. This twin emphasis on penality and welfare, on care and recovery alongside the imperative to enforce compliance with court-mandated sanctions, makes ATRs a prime example of ‘strong-arm sobriety’ sentences (Piehowski and Phelps, 2023). Important questions remain about whether they meaningfully impact on the root causes of offending and support desistance from crime.

Alcohol consumption is seldom the focus of desistance studies on the ‘turning points’ which instigate the cessation of offending. For some, ‘strong-arm sobriety’ interventions elevate drinking above other factors that cause crime and negate the significance of other socio-economic or psychological causes. Existing studies of ATRs have used quantitative methods and found those who complete treatment tend to drink less in future (Ashby et al, 2010; Baldwin et al, 2010), but have found no evidence of reduced reoffending (McSweeney, 2015). Detailed, qualitative inquiry is now needed into the role of drinking in offenders’ actions and the position of ATRs within the penal-welfare continuum to better understand how ATRs operate in practice and impact on offenders and offending.

The PhD research questions are:

  • What role has alcohol played in the offending behaviour(s) of ATR recipients?
  • What are recipients' experiences and perceptions of ATRs and their short and long-term impacts?
  • What are the implications of these findings for the delivery of ATRs?

As the potential for relapse into drinking and offending plays out through time, longitudinal perspective also promise valuable insights. The PhD project is a panel study of offenders who receive an ATR. It will take a group of ATR recipients and interview them at key points across 6 months of their ‘treatment journey’. Interviews will be semi-structured and will explore offenders’ relationships with alcohol, its connection to offending and the unfolding impact of the ATR upon drinking and offending behaviours.

The Leeds supervisory team (Professor Henry Yeomans and Dr Matt Tidmarsh) will work closely with Humankind, including during a 3 month Research in Practice placement.

Further information about how to apply, please contact the Admissions Team.

For more information on the project, please contact  Henry Yeomans

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