School of Sociology and Social Policy

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Lyndsey Harris

Assistant Professor in Criminology, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Lyndsey Harris is an Assistant Professor in Criminology at The University of Nottingham, joining the School of Sociology and Social Policy in January 2015. She is Vice President in charge of conferences of the Society for Terrorism Research (STR) and Co-Editor of the journal Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression. Prior to joining The University of Nottingham, Dr. Harris, was a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Security Studies at Birmingham City University and the Programme Director for the Undergraduate Criminology degree provision. Dr. Harris' previous employment includes: Associate Lecturer in Politics at the University of Ulster; and Lecturer in Social Sciences, teaching Criminology, at the University of Chester.


Expertise Summary

Research interests include:

  • Terrorism, extremism and political violence:

- Ulster Loyalist paramilitarism and 'modern' Loyalism in the UK

- Impact of countering terrorism on families and the Criminal Justice System

- Strategic Theory

- Northern Irish Politics (post-conflict transformation).

Dr. Harris' doctoral thesis, 'A Strategic Analysis of Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland', included over 50 interviews with Loyalist paramilitary members and ex-members of The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

  • Crime and Criminal Justice

- Domestic and Sexual Violence

Teaching Summary

Current teaching:

  • Module Convenor: Year 2 Core - Criminal Justice Systems: Function, Processes and Policy
  • Module Convenor: Year 3 Elective: Terrorism and Extremism in the UK
  • Module Convenor: MA Criminology in Practice
  • MA Contemporary Issues and debates in Criminology

Previous teaching:

  • MA Theories and Concepts in Criminology;
  • Seminar teaching: Year 3 Prisons and Incarceration Module (elective)
  • Year 2 Core - Research Design and Practice - Qualitative

Research Summary

Dr Harris is currently leading two research projects:

1. The Impact of Countering Terrorism (CT) and the Criminal Justice System (CJS)

The first and important aspect of this study involves exploring the experiences of families and individuals arrested, charged and/or prosecuted for terrorism related offences and the role of prisoners family support organisations.

The potential policy impact of the larger study relates directly to the aim of shaping criminal justice policy in relation to counter terrorism (CT) strategies and practical implementation of existing legislation. Specifically, it has the potential to impact upon the three broad areas of: crime and policing (mapping experiences of citizens, police staff and the practical implementation of policy); law and justice system (prison and probation staff experiences in implementation of CT policy and statutory responsibilities); and equality, rights and citizenship by considering the impact of CT related CJS policies that impact upon marginalised communities such as families of those convicted, charged or arrested and statutory and voluntary sector response to supporting such individuals

2. Domestic and Sexual Violence

Service Evaluation for Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership:

Responding to Complexity (R2C): An evaluation of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) funded coordinated response to support survivors of domestic and sexual abuse with complex needs (mental ill-health, substance misuse including alcohol and/or dual diagnosis).

Central Research Question:

Evaluation of the utility and demand for a service in Nottingham for survivors of domestic and sexual violence abuse (DSVA) with complex needs (including mental ill health, substance misuse [including alcohol] and/or dual diagnosis)

Produce five overall outcomes:

  1. Evaluation of the service provided for survivors of DSVA with complex needs in Nottingham as a direct result of the DCLG funded project
  2. Evaluation of the demand for a service in Nottingham for survivors of DVSA with complex needs.
  3. Evaluation of the barriers to accessing service in Nottingham for survivors of DVSA with complex needs.
  4. Document the experiences of wrap around service providers and service users (Both from the DSVA sector to substance misuse / mental health sector and from substance misuse / mental health sector to the DSVA sector).
  5. Comparative analysis of service provided within national framework.

Selected Publications

Dr Harris is keen to hear from doctoral candidates interested in being supervised in the following areas:

Terrorism and Extremism

  • Impact of counter terrorism on the Criminal Justice System
  • Northern Ireland - transitional justice, conflict transformation, paramilitary activity, incarceration in Northern Ireland.
  • UK experience of terrorism and counter-terrorism.
  • Application of strategic theory to a case study involving organisations that engage in terrorist activity.
  • 'Modern' Loyalism

Domestic and Sexual Violence

  • Survivor experiences of Criminal Justice System
  • Supporting survivors with complex needs
  • The court process and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse

Past Research

My doctoral study included qualitative analysis of interviews with over 50 members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA), which focused on the application and adaptation of strategic theory to re-examine Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. This comprised an examination of the utility of employing strategic theory to examine terrorism using Loyalism as a case study. The main findings of the research included the need for policy makers, commentators and conflict transformation practitioners to differentiate between the UVF and UDA as the values of each of these organisations differed and therefore the ability to encourage an end to violent activity and criminality was dependent upon the organisational affiliation of individuals. A key element of interaction, according to strategic theory, is the use of processes or determining phases in an attempt to achieve an actor's aim. In the past I have used this to examine how Loyalists signal their own preferences, to the British Government, the Republican movement and each other, in the hope of influencing the value other actors will place on a specific action or philosophy. There are many forms of signalling used by Loyalist paramilitaries including political and military action. Additionally, I have examined the interactions between the leaders of The Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force with their grass-roots members. Furthermore, my study was able to highlight how the UDA and UVF have interacted with each other. It was evident from the empirical data gathered that Loyalist paramilitaries do disaggregate the strategic environment in which they operate. For example, it is apparent that political negotiations and military tactics, which are employed to defend their 'Britishness' or achieve their preferences, are separated from internal organisational discipline. In my related publications I have discussed the military means and political 'voice' that has been employed by the leadership of both organisations in an attempt to control grass-roots members and move the organisations towards a process of exiting the political environment in Northern Ireland.

My research interests included examining organisations and individuals who engage in acts of terror and political violence by drawing upon empirical evidence and applying an interdisciplinary theoretical approach (strategic 'theory'). To-date, the focus of my research has been Loyalist paramilitarism in Northern Ireland, which stems from my doctoral study completed at University of Ulster in 2009, A Strategic Analysis of Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. The contemporary relevance of my research is that by exploring UDA and UVF tactics and operational strategy in historical context I am able to offer an assessment of why both organisations have remained relatively quiet despite the increased dissident Republican campaign in Northern Ireland while also being associated with hate crime and 'far right' activities. Indeed, this has led to a comparative study the UDA and the English Defence League and the policy implications.

Future Research

'Modern' Loyalism

  • Exploring the existence, in the United Kingdom, of organisations that have 'learnt' from loyalist paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.
  • Examining attitudes and the impact of (possible) constitutional independence of Scotland on both Scottish Loyalists and Loyalists in Northern Ireland. It is envisaged this study (and future activities) will provide knowledge for mitigating security threats.

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