Research Team: 

Lead Researcher – Julie Parsons: is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Plymouth. She has recently completed a 12-month Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) Mid-Career Fellowship (2016-17) ‘developing social and cultural capital through Photographic e-Narratives (PeN) at an offender/ex-offender rehabilitation scheme’. This followed a 12-month Sociology of Health and Illness Foundation (SHI) Mildred Blaxter post-doctoral fellowship (2015-16), examining ‘commensality’ (eating together around a table) as a tool for health, well-being, social inclusion and community resilience. She published a monograph from her PhD entitled Gender, Class and Food, Families, Bodies and Health (2015, Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke), which was shortlisted for the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness book prize 2016. She is lead for the Contemporary Research Methodologies group (CRM), part of the Institute of Community and Health (IHC). She is interested in auto/biographical, creative, visual and collaborative approaches to research. She was programme lead for the MSc in Social Research Methods (2010-14).

Facilitator – Gayle Letherby: Following 10 years as a Nursery Nurse I returned to (higher) education in the late 1980s to study Sociology. Between 1994 and 2015 I worked as a full-time academic, first at Coventry University and then at the University of Plymouth. Currently I am Honorary Professor of Sociology at the University of Plymouth and a Visiting Professor at the University of Greenwich. I combine freelance academic activities with other non-academic (paid and voluntary) work and writing. Academic research and writing interests embrace all things methodological (including feminist, auto/biographical and creative approaches); reproductive and non/parental identities; gender, health and wellbeing; loss and bereavement; travel and transport mobility and working and gender and identity within institutions (including universities and prisons). Recent publications include Letherby, G. Scott, J. and Williams, M, (2013) Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research London: Sage; Letherby, Gayle (2014) He, Himself and I: reflections on inter/connected lives Durham: British Sociological Association; Polity and Letherby, G. (2015) ‘Bathwater, Babies and Other Losses: A Personal and Academic Story’ Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying 20 (2); Letherby, Gayle (2017) ‘To Be or Not to Be (a mother): thinking about mothers and others through literature and social science’ in Browne, V. Giorgio, A. Jeremiah, E. Six, A. L. and Rye, G. (eds.) Motherhood in Literature and Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Europe London: Routledge. For examples of non-academic, academic writing and other pieces that move between the two see and

Art Facilitator and Web Designer – Sarah Jane Hodge: is a Devon-based artist, specialising in creating visual art with socially excluded groups. After graduating in Fine Art and Art History at Plymouth University in 2013, Sarah became the Arts Coordinator for LandWorks and the PeN Project, and for the past 3 years has secured grants to deliver arts projects with people in prison or at risk of going to prison.

Geraldine Brown’s background is in the disciplines of Sociology and Social Policy. Geraldine adopts an ‘action research’ approach to her work and has undertaken research with ‘pregnant teenagers and young mothers,’ Black and Minority Ethnic communities’ ‘young people, prisoners and ‘older people with a mental health need.  Her doctoral research explored how African Caribbean community activist conceptualise and respond  ‘urban gun crime’ in their local communities.

Jonathan Harvey: is a brain injury survivor and a social scientist. Much of his work has been in researching acquired brain injury and the identity of those considered ‘other’ or ‘abnormal’ in society. He is interested in auto/biographical and narrative approaches to research and representation. Jonathan has recently completed a book entitled ‘A Sociological Approach to Acquired Brain Injury and Identity (link).

Sarah Hocking: is the Project Coordinator for LandWorks, and has been with the project just over four years. She studied BSc Criminology with Criminal Justice Studies at Plymouth University, focusing her final year dissertation on desistance and social exclusion in young ‘offenders’. Alongside her studies Sarah volunteered with the Plymouth Youth Offending Team, supporting young people in police custody. After graduating, Sarah joined LandWorks on the same day the project began for a six-month internship. Since then Sarah has developed the systems on which the charity runs efficiently, guiding its transition to an independent charity in early 2016, while helping to secure vital funding from trusts and private donors. Sarah has also implemented The Outcomes Star™ (Justice Star strand) at LandWorks to both measure and support progress for trainees at the project. Sarah and the trainees work collaboratively to plot (numerical score from 1 to 10) where the trainee is on the ladder of change for each of the ten outcome areas relevant to successful resettlement. More recently, Sarah has started delivering weekly Criminology workshops at LandWorks, where trainees learn and debate relevant criminal justice issues whilst reflecting on their own involvement with crime and their paths to desistance.

Andy Whiteford arrived at the University of Plymouth from a career working with Adults and Young People in a variety of settings – outreach, detached, educational, residential and community – yet always close to some of the most marginalised and least well-resourced in our society. He has taught in ‘Small Schools’, been a roadie, attempted self-sufficiency, worked as a fisherman, Probation Officer, Youth Justice Worker and Drug Worker. Andy is currently a part time social work lecturer with responsibility for a 20-credit undergraduate module, ‘What is Social Work?’, critically examining the role and purpose of social work as a practice methodology. He teaches on other modules and supports ‘practice learning’ arrangements, working with students, both in placement and in the classroom, to facilitate transference of learning into their professional practice.


Ruth Armstrong and Amy Ludlow

Ruth Armstrong is a British Academy Post Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Criminology, and a Research Associate at St. John’s College in the University of Cambridge. Ruth has conducted research internationally and in the UK on different aspects of life in prison and post release, especially focussing on the individual and social aspects of routes out of crime.

Amy Ludlow is a College Lecturer and Fellow in Law, at Gonville and Caius College and an Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Law in the University of Cambridge. Amy has conducted wide-ranging research in prisons, focussing especially on how organisational reforms in the sector, particularly marketisation and privatisation, affect prison staff culture and quality of life for staff and prisoners.

Together Ruth and Amy have designed and are delivering and evaluating an educational initiative called Learning Together – an initiative that builds learning communities that span prison and university walls. Their work is yielding new research insights about the role of dialogic, communal learning in supporting movements away from crime.

Nicola Harding: is a multi-disciplinary researcher working in Criminology and Human Geography, based in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She specialises in the study of criminalised women, punishment, and community using creative qualitative research methods. Her PhD research is a Participatory Action Research, from a feminist standpoint perspective, with criminalised women in the North West of England. In partnership with these women, she co-produced research that identifies their everyday experiences of punishment in the community using a variety of creative research methods. She is editor of the British Society of Criminology Postgraduate Blog, and co-produces a research network for creative research methods in criminology (@Creative_Crim).

Nick Hardwick CBE: is Professor of Criminal Justice at Royal Holloway University. He graduated with an English degree from the University of Hull in 1979. The first half of his career was with NGOs, first working with young offenders in the community, then leading the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint before moving to run the British Refugee Council. While at the Refugee Council he chaired the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). In 2003 he was appointed to establish and run the Independent Police Complaints Commission as its first Executive Chair. He moved from police to prisons in 2010 when he was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons. Since his term as Chief Inspector ended in 2016, he has combined roles as Professor of Criminal Justice at Royal Holloway, University of London with chairing the Parole Board for England and Wales and some consultancy projects. He is chair of New Horizon Youth Centre, Vice Chair of Prisoners Abroad and a trustee of the London Housing Foundation. He is a patron of Unlock and Zahid Mubarek Trust. He was awarded a CBE in 2010 and has honorary doctorates from the universities of Hull, Leeds-Beckett and Wolverhampton.

Erwin James: is a long-time supporter and friend of LandWorks. He has written his memoir; ‘Redeemable: A Memoir of Darkness and Hope’ (2016, London: Bloomsbury), amongst other books. He has recorded an interview with David Wilson ‘In the Criminologist’s Chair’ on radio 4 ( He is Editor-in-Chief for Inside Time: the National Newspaper for Prisoners and Detainees ( He also works as a Guardian columnist and started writing for the Guardian when still in prison. He is aptly placed to comment on prison life and has an intimate understanding of the difficulties experienced along the road to change.

Fergus McNeill: is Professor of Criminology and Social Work at the University of Glasgow where he works in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and in the Sociology subject area. Prior to becoming an academic he worked in residential drug rehabilitation and as a criminal justice social worker. His many research projects, publications and publications have centred on institutions, cultures and practices of punishment and their reform. As well as researching, teaching and writing, Fergus has been involved in providing consultancy advice and support to governments and criminal justice organisations in many jurisdictions around the world. Between 2011-2014, he was appointed by the Cabinet Secretary as Chair of the Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation. He is a Trustee, Council or Board Member of several charities including Faith in Communities Scotland, ‘Positive Prisons? Positive Futures…’, the Scottish Association for the Study of Offending and Vox Liminis. He also served recently as a member of the Poverty Truth Commission. Fergus has co-written or co-edited several books including Offender Supervision: New Directions in Theory, Research and Practice, Offender Supervision in Europe, Reducing Reoffending: Social Work and Community Justice in Scotland, Understanding Penal Practice and Youth Offending and Youth Justice. His most recent books include Community Punishment: European Perspectives (co-edited with Gwen Robinson), published by Routledge in 2015; Probation: 12 essential questions (co-edited with Ioan Durnescu and Rene Butter), published by Palgrave in 2016; and Beyond the Risk Paradigm in Criminal Justice (co-edited with Chris Trotter and Gill McIvor), published by Palgrave in 2016.