Research proposal Assignment | Top Essay Writing

Component 1: Research proposal (2,000 words) – worth 75% of the module mark
Identify a contemporary criminological topic and write a research proposal. Your research proposal should focus entirely on qualitative research. Your research proposal must include the following:
1) Literature review, including a rationale for the research;
2) Aims of the research;
3) Research methodology;
4) Ethical considerations;

5) Reference List.

Component 2: Thematic Analysis (500 words) – worth 25% of the module mark
You will be provided with a choice of interview transcripts. Choose ONE of the transcripts and analyse it using a thematic analysis approach as follows:
Highlight the codes in the original document;
Write a summary of the themes (500 words).

DCR1 Portfolio – Thematic Analysis example

The interview transcript contained in this Thematic Analysis example is the one which was used in Seminar 7.  Please use the format presented here when you are completing your own Thematic Analysis for the assessment.

Please read the following guidance carefully:

  1. Use the Word ‘Review’ facility to highlight the text and write each code, as shown below (don’t use a coloured font, please).  This is a change to the advice previously given, to ensure that all staff and students can read the text properly.  To do this:
  • Highlight the text which relates to the code;
  • Select the ‘Review’ tab in Word;
  • Select ‘New Comment’ and type the code.
  1. The thematic analysis (see below) should be 500 words and this 500 words does not include the codes or any memos (as these are just part of the process of doing the analysis, to help you identify themes);
  2. When you have finished your Thematic Analysis, simply paste it into one Word document with your essay;
  3. You can use quotations from the interview transcript to support your analysis;
  4. As discussed in Seminar 7, some interpretation is needed.  The Thematic Analysis should not just be descriptive;
  5. No references are needed for this component of the assessment.


Interviewer: So do you enjoy being at the university of [place]

Respondent: Ye I quite enjoy it.

Interviewer: Where were you brought up?

Respondent: I was brought up in [place]

Interviewer: In [place]? And you were born in the UK

Respondent: No.

Interviewer: OK so where were you born?

Respondent: I was born in Pakistan and I came here when I was three, so I was pretty much brought up here, Ive been brought up here all my life.

Interviewer: So you’re family are originally from Pakistan?

Respondent: Yes

Interviewer: Yes, so is it your parents that moved here?

Respondent: Yes it was my parents that moved here.

Interviewer: Ok. Cool. What denomination of the islamic faith do you follow? and how strongly do you feel you like identify with that?

Respondent: I class myself as a Sunni muslim

Interview: Ok

Respondent: So i follow that denomination and I; sorry what was the second part of the question?

Interview:how strongly do you feel you identify?

Respondent: I feel I identify strongly with that, I sort of follow term all the, you know, the principles, the rules. So Yeh

Interview: Is this a family influence?

Respondent: Ye its definitely a family influence, Ive been brought up to follow the ideology.

Inteviewer: Yeh

Respondent: And I do follow the…

Interviewer: Do you think that like the family influence is important to how thats made you identify yourself

Respondent: Ye definitely, as i’ve got older I’ve developed my own identity and perspective on religion but initially my family have played a big part in the belief I have in my religion.

Interviewer: Ok, what does being a British Muslim mean to you?

Respondent: erm, it means a mixture of things really. So its like, erm, i feel… I’ve never really thought about it really, because… its not like I’m… its my religion, it doesn’t really show straight away, i just feel like how you feel as a British person really, . If that makes sense?

Interviewer: Yes i know what you mean, So do you think that being a Sunni Muslim is important in shaping that British Identity then?

Respondent: Yes it is. I suppose, ye, thats true because, as a British muslim I do go out on nights out but I don’t drink because obviously it’s against my religion to drink so yeh. How i live my life is obviously different to how a normal British person would, like, i don’t eat pork, you know, i try to pray, so yeh… as a British muslim… I suppose it does clash sort of with the culture, religion does slightly clash. So if I was like at home in Pakistan it wouldn’t clash because thats the way of living there, like 99% of the population there are muslim. So i suppose there is sometimes a clash, particularly because my parents are Pakistani, they have a different mentality and perspective on stuff, so like being brought up there there is sometimes a clash of western/eastern… thats culture. But then it’s religion as well because obviously that teaches you.

Interviewer: Do you think maybe its then a bit different, like when you were at home to when you are here, and when you were back with your parents at all? Do you think maybe there is a bit of a difference

Respondent: There’s not a difference in how I act myself personally because I’m confident with who I am and with what I do, but I do know people that are totally different when they are at home and when they are university. There’s girls especially that I know that when they are at home they wear the hijab and they pray, but when they are at uni, you know, they’re drinking, and they’re doing stuff… thats fine that up to them, but like I’m just saying they are doing things that they would never do at home when they are with their parents. But I personally don’t because I kind of have an understanding with my parents and I’m confident and I know who I am and what my identity is.

Interviewer: Ok thats interesting, do you think that you have a different relationship with islam than maybe your parents do, well you were both born in Pakistan but you have spent most of your time here? you moved here when you were four?

Respondent: Three. But yeh… erm… I suppose we do have slightly different views. I would say because i’ve been brought up in the UK and theres been various different people… well compared to my parents who were brought up in a tiny village, everyone there shares the same, they are all sunni muslims there. Whereas are in the UK you have Wahabi, the Shia, so i suppose its a bit different. But at the end of the day I would say my relationship and how I see my religion is how my parents would see it, so we do have the same beliefs. My parents have had a large influence on my life and so I’ve sort of been brought up following what they follow and I’ve also done my own research myself, and I feel that what they have taught me and how they have influenced me is sort of right so I’ve carried on that. If i had done my research about thinking, ‘ok my parents have maybe not taught me the right stuff, or they… well I think this is a better way’ then I would have followed that, but after doing my own research yeh…

Interview:  So do you think that being born in Britain has not really made a difference then in how you’ve, well in your relationship with like term being a muslim?

Respondent: It’s not for me personally but there are people as I’ve said again, erm. Where as they are like, i wouldn’t say confused, but because they have been brought up in sort of… they’ve had external influences, different experiences to myself. There is people who I know who have had a large clash with how they want to be and how the religion…how they should be in their religion. So thats clashed, and so that kind of led them to be two different people, one with their family and one when they are away from home.

Interview: Because I think, well… lets move on. So do you think its different for you being a muslim than it was for your parents, like they spent a lot of their lives growing up in pakistan and now you’re…

Respondent: Yes definitely, I think one of the main issues is, erm, is the rise in islamophobia, in the UK especially. You know, so after 9/11 and 7/7 bombings and the shootings in paris recently. So, its very different purely because when my parents were back home there was no, obviously, erm religious hate towards them purely because everyone there was the same religion. But I was brought up in the UK and a lot of the time you see propaganda in the media, which is usually biased against muslims, erm. You kind of never really see positive articles about muslims especially mainstream media, such as the BBC and the daily… I say… I class the daily mail as mainstream media but its not, but purely because if you look on Facebook now people will use the daily mail as a trusted reference, but its obviously not. Yeh, so its a lot different to how they faced… erm, being brought up as a muslim and how I’ve faced. Like I’ve never been, you know, the victim of islamophobia myself but I have friends and family who have and its quite shocking really.

Interviewer: yes its fucking terrible like, would you say thats its like then maybe your identity has been constructed differently to like theres is and how you act is kinda…

Respondent: ye, I think it is like, I… like, because of the rising islamcphbia and whats going on i think I’m a lot more aware about my religion and I’ve done a lot more research than my parents did, I’ve got a lot more resources. So because, the way I’ve thought is if someone comes up to me and tries to hate, and says you’re religion teaches you this, I can then give them an informed answer and say well no it doesn’t, and then I can, you know, refer them back to.. you know ‘you can go look at this and various other things’. So i think in that sense it has shaped me to become more aware about religion, because when I was younger I was like obviously focussed and had a strong belief, but I just, I was restricted to what my parents had taught me. But now I’m a lot more aware and I know a lot more about the teachings erm, than I did, I do know a lot more than my parents.

Interviewer: yeh, so really, perhaps maybe, do you think maybe you’ve got a stronger, do you maybe you are more, you said you have spent more time researching it, do you think that, im trying to think how to phrase it,,,

Respondent: Is my belief stronger than my parents, is that what you’re trying to say?

Interviewer: I think beliefs a funny kind of word

Respondent: I know what you are trying to say but… no, I actually fact I think they, even though I’ve done more research, I think theirs is stronger purely because I’ve had this sort of British influence on my life aswell. So I would sometimes do things that like… I know that are kind of wrong, they are not against my religion, but they are not forbidden, but they are like frowned upon. But whereas… I still do it at home, its not like I just come here and do them, like sometimes at prayer time, ill just be like ohhh i wont bother praying. But my parents, especially my mum, she wouldn’t miss a prayer. In that sense their belief is stronger because they have always been brought up with that same belief and then throughout their life they have had that as a constant, and you know, they’ve had the culture aligned with their religion, because obviously the Pakistani culture is just muslims, isn’t it really. Whereas mine, i’ve had a muslim upbringing but I’ve had the British culture and the influence as well, so its kind of… yeh, i would say there’s is actually stronger than mine, even though I know more.

Interviewer:I think we have kind of covered this a little bit but do you think, like, being born growing up in Britain, a secular society has affected your relationship with islam, well we’ve already covered/gone over this, and how you construct your identity.


Respondent: It hasn’t, sort of for me because I’ve always known who I am and where I come from, what my background is, what my religion is. I think part of that is because i was born there and like I have older siblings, so I have had their influence as well, because they’ve like… my older sister, she’s like 10 years older than me, so I’ve had her influence and she was in Pakistan for like 13 years. So I’ve had her influence on me as well. But there are people I know who have been born in the UK and they, even if their parents have the same background as mine, they are totally different to me, because, I don’t know, but but maybe its their experiences, their beliefs but, I don’t know what it is, but it could be because of the influence of being born in a British environment, it could be that.

Interviewer:  ok, erm how do you think that non muslims, we kinda started talking about this in terms of the media and stuff, how do you think non muslims feels about muslims in general?

Respondent: I think most people are not ignorant and are aware and don’t, sort of, when something happens all the blame is on all muslims. You know, sort of its, there is a minority who do and they get heard the most. Its always the extreme minority whose voices are heard the most. Its just like, you know, the terrorism in islam is always, its a minority, because there is 1 billion, the population of all muslims in the world is over 1 billion, if all of these were supposed terrorists I think pretty much half the population would be dead by now. Yeh, so its just when you see, if you looked through various news articles the world terrorism is always used when there is something a muslim has done. But if there is a similar act carried out by a christian, or an atheist, their religion is never mentioned, the world terrorism is never used. And most likely, they’re not, and most cases it turns out the person is actually a lone ranger or has some mental issues or has the brain of a child or has been brain washed, but when it comes back to muslims it is always; the religion says this the religion says that.

Interviewer: erm yeh, erm so then do you think its the media that has really pushed these kind…

Respondent: its definitely the media, erm, and then its just ignorance as well, its just like, you know, you’ve

got obviously, when you get quite older people 70’s/80’s, when they be a bit ignorant its kind of understandable because they were younger, being brought up, it was predominantly white, there was no multiculturalism, it started off then just after the second world war and stuff. So like I don’t kind of blame them but then when their children and their grand children and so on, when they carry that on I think well, you’ve had opportunities to learn but you’re still so ignorant. So yeh its the media but I also think people just choose to sometimes ignore, like, if they, if its been ingrained in their mind since they were young, they just stay ignorant and don’t bother.

Interviewer: So what do you think about, I was just doing some reading and there was an article, it was the pope and he was calling on islamic faith leaders to condemn the terrorists acts, and I was sat there thinking this is a bit ridiculous, surely you can expect every…

Respondent: Exactly

Interviewer: Its like you said there is 1 billion people and its a minority, what do you think about that?

Respondent: Exactly, I think.. I condemn all these acts, but I don’t apologise, the muslim leaders condemn as what the pope said, and its kind of right because what he’s saying is, because there is so much attack on muslims they need to come out and condemn it just to, you know, say yes, islam doesn’t accept this and doesn’t teach this. But the thing is muslim leaders do condemn it, but its just not shown in mainstream media. I know if I go to my local mosque and the Imam there will, if you speak to him, he will absolutely say the terrorists/any person that follows the religion properly will say that the terrorists are not muslims,  because there is not… they just take certain a certain bit and they misinterpret it and they take on this ideology. Because actually there is a verse in the koran that says if you kill a person its like killing the whole of mankind and if you save an innocent person its like saving the whole of mankind, so, recently when the paris shooting happened there was an article on the bbc, well it wasn’t an article it was on the bbc facebook page that said muslims will be giving poppies, actually I think it was roses just to like apologise or show love or something. And I was like, its a really nice gesture but at the end of the day i’m not going to apologise for someone else’s actions, yeh i condemn it and I state that strongly… and its definitely against islam. But i’m not apologising for someones actions, simply because like if like a christian man or an atheist or a white British person came and killed my whole family I would not then expect every single British christian or British atheist or white male to apologise to me for that one person or five peoples attacks. So I think that when people say ‘oh muslims should be apologising’ its just like no, because we have nothing to apologise for, fair enough if I’ve done something wrong but I’m not apologising for the actions of someone else. I’ll condemn it because I don’t agree with it.

Interviewer: Do you think that thats made you feel, more, maybe a bit of an outsider then as a British muslim?

Respondent: … it has sort of purely because of how the media portrays muslims, but I’ve been lucky in the sense I’ve always had friends who are; either know about the religion that I’ve been taught or are open minded, like when i came to university my housemates didn’t really know much about islam but they weren’t closed minded, they were not like ‘all muslims are terrorists, we hate, I don’t like muslims’ so it hasn’t made me feel like an outsider. But I can see where people have been made to feel like outsiders because of the environment they have been brought up in. So like, you know, if you go to areas where 99% of the population is white British, then yes. There is an area near my house, well I live in Nottingham city and there is a place called Bingham that is predominantly white, but there was a muslim family living there and there was quite a few racial or religiously motivated hatred attacks on them. Like someone cut a pigs head and put it on, outside on their gate. So i think, erm because I’ve always had friends/I went to a school that was always multicultural, then I went to college and I came to university, I’ve been fine but I know people who have been made to feel like outsiders.

Interviewer: So you dont think that its affected your faith?

Respondent: Not it’s definitely not affected my faith, I can see why it would affect peoples faiths. Especially people who are influenced easily or who are sort of, a bit, want to really fit in, I can see how that would change peoples faiths. For me it’s because, I don’t know, its just the way I am, I’m just like whatever.

Interviewer: So do you then those that you spoke about, you said you know some people who are like totally different at uni, maybe they go and drink, do you think that they have been affected by this islamophobic…

Respondent: I cant really speak to them, maybe it has maybe it hasn’t, maybe even before it could be how they are brought up. Obviously their family has told them about religion but maybe they haven’t bothered researching it or maybe their faith wasn’t that strong beforehand. So they kind of were wanting for the opportunity to do this for a long time, but they couldn’t at home because there parents expect them to behave a certain way, so they probably come out now and…

Interviewer: Do you think thats the influence of living in the UK? Rather than living in Pakistan

Respondent: It could be but then, there are people that do that in Pakistan, even though its illegal to drink alcohol in Pakistan there is alcohol available from the black market. So it is, obviously, a British influence trying to fit in with the British culture, but it could be purely because of their experiences, they probably experienced islamophobia and thinking ooooh…


Interviewer: yes, erm does the, do you think that media representation has affected how you act, you said maybe not for you but…

Respondent: And just sometimes I think like ‘i wouldn’t wear this in certain places and stuff like that’ But yeh with the media it has sort of, because its just, you’re always wary about when you first meet someone and you talk then and they say “ah Respondent are you muslim?”,  and your always thinking, you always have it in your head are they going to be totally fine or are they going to be like “I hate muslims”. You just kinda have that in your head, its just constant, i’m always constantly thinking about it when I meet people, like yeh are they going to judge me because i’m muslim. Even if i’m going to a job interview, on the forms ‘equality and diversity’ you can select prefer not to say. I will always say muslim because i’m proud of my religion and the I would never hide that but the person, I just think, what if the interviewer has these predetermined thoughts about muslims and they judge me based on that. So ye it does play on my mind a lot, when i’m applying for jobs and interviews and stuff like that. So yeh.

Interview: Because then I was going to say do you think this has affected that your identity as a muslim, but you said you still stick the box.

Respondent: ye it hasn’t affected my identity as a muslim I would never say oh i’m not a muslim or i don’t identity with a religion. Or if I had a form to fill in and it asked me what religion I was I would always say muslim. But I can imagine for some people it can. There was this guy on dragons den, James Kahn. He changed his name purely because he tried… he had a muslim name, Im not sure if this story is 100% true but I’ve heard it from various sources, he changed his name because he had good ideas in business but he couldn’t get the opportunity, so he changed his name…

Interview: doors started opening?

Respondent: Yeh and also I remember when we were in college a teacher mentioned that they had a colleague who has muslim and they would send out job applications and were kind of, not getting anywhere, so at one place they sent two applications, exactly the same but with different names at the top, and they got a call back when they had a British sounding name. This could be because its the first CV that they looked at but it kinda indicated they looked at the name and thought ‘ohh maybe not’.

Interviewer: So do you think, we’ve already spoke about it a little bit, but do you think that there is definitely a climate of islamophobia.

Respondent: YES Absolutely, definitely, I would say that, you see in the media sort of, you know, sort of ten years ago, 15 years ago, before then, the BNP and UKIP, yeh not UKIP sorry, EDL. EDL especially, lets forget the BNP because there just idiots. But the EDL especially they were not popular, not as well known as they are now. And they say that their main aim is to get rid of islamic extremism but then when you see the interviews and you see the values, they say stuff like: all muslims should go back to their country, but I’m just there like, well you get British Muslims who are born in the UK and you get White Muslims who convert to the religion: What are you going to do with them? where are you going to send them? Anyone who wasn’t born the UK fair enough, if want to send me home, send me home whatever, but if like, when there are people, like, born in the UK and are muslims what are you going to do, you cant kick them out of their own country can you.

Interviewer: No, so how does that make you feel as a British muslim, a British citizen?

Respondent: It feels, it makes… not for myself but it makes me feel, especially for… well I have three sisters  two wear the hijab one doesn’t, because obviously thats their personal choice nobody is going to force them. So I don’t really feel concerned for myself but I do feel concerned for female muslims especially, purely because I know a couple of females who have had their head scarf pulled off in the street, like literally they have tried to pull it off, people are like why are you wearing a rag on your head and it makes me concerned for them purely because they are getting judged on their appearance. Even someone I know, when this happened to them, they were quite scared to leave their house for 3/4 weeks, which I think we live in a society that shouts freedom of speech but then when you have people who are being criticised for how they dress, I don’t understand, where like, thats their choice to wear a hijab, if there is a female walking on the street half naked in the summer, as we see, nobody says anything then, but if a muslims wears a hijab… With the niqab, where you can only see the eyes, I kind of understand the safety and the concerns with that, like I understand that, but when people are saying ‘why are these women wearing a headscarf’, ye they’re wearing a headscarf but you can still see their whole face you just cant see their hair, like why does it concern you?

Interviewer: ok, so has that made you feel/think any less of the British Culture?

Respondent: No absolutely not, because I, you know, I’ve been brought up around British people all my life and I think the British are amazing, I just think, most of the people are just opened minded, nice people that are generally interested. Like a lot of my friends didn’t know about the religion, especially when I came to uni. They asked me and some of them were a bit scared of asking me and I was like no its fine, if you ask me because at least you are trying to ask me, I don’t mind you asking me, its like, what I don’t like is when people make prejudgements and they don’t know they just hear something from someone. So i’m like if you want to ask me any questions, you can ask me questions, don’t think, is this going to be too controversial, or if you have heard something from someone like I would rather you asked me and I could clear it up for you rather than you think thats the truth and sort of follow that. But yeh it hasn’t made me think any less of the British culture or the British people.

Interviewer: Do you think the islamophobia may be important for how some British muslims shape their identity?

Respondent: Definitely.

Interviewer: Do you think its made them embrace their faith more? or made them think maybe I need to, maybe feel a bit less..

Respondent:  Basically I think, with islamophobia I think it has, sort of, its not a reason for some people to turn to extreme islam, but it has played a part, purely because, it says in the koran that if someone is threatening your religion, like, threatening you, like their going to kill you because of your religion, then you can retaliate to protect yourself, but like self defence, thats preached everywhere. But people have misinterpreted that as in like, ‘if there is a little bit of hate against you, you turn extreme’. So I think it has, there is some people where the islamophobia has kinda made them back off from their faith, there is some whereas like myself where I’ve made my faith stronger and I’ve researched more into it so I can give informed answers to people, if anyone does come up to me and says ‘this what not…’, and there is some people who have just gone a bit extreme.

Interviewer: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Respondent: No, is there anything you want to ask me that isn’t written down?

Interviewer: No one thing we worried about was the phrasing of the questions, we didn’t want it to be us and them, thats not we think.

Respondent: ye i can understand, its hard for you, I know where you are coming from. I know how some people think, I know you don’t think of me as differently to you, but its how you have to, its not me and you or us and them, in that sense. But me and you are different as people, like because, you know what I mean, I’m not against you but I think there are differences. Obviously everyone should be united but there will be differences. But ye I totally understand what you meant by the questions

Interviewer: So do you think that you have a different kind of identity in terms of Britain as me? so do you think kinda…

Respondent: I don’t…. I would say your viewpoint will be different to mine, but I think this will be not because of the British… it will be me being a Muslim. So your views on drinking will be different to mine on drinking, you know, your views of god will be different to my views on god. I think our differences will be because of what I have learnt from Islam as opposed to what the influence of British culture has.

Interviewer: So do you think the Islam influence is maybe… stronger

Respondent: Yes, yes I would say that in my life like, Islam has had a greater influence on my life. Purely because its a religion as opposed to like culture. I mean like culturally, because I’ve spent all my life and been brought up in Britain, in terms of culture wise i’d say, the British culture has had more impact on my life than the Pakistani culture, because you know my parents are Pakistani. But in terms of… because Islam is my belief and so I follow that it has a greater sort of influence.






  1. Significant others


The interviewee refers to the importance of family in shaping their identity.  The frequency of these references to family appears to emphasise the importance of family in shaping their identity through their lives.  For example, they say “ … it’s definitely a family influence” (p.1) and “ .. at the end of the day I would say my relationship and how I see my religion is how my parents would see it, so we do have the same beliefs” (p.2).  Although they feel the freedom to explore aspects of their identity, and at times illustrate how their views differ from their parents’, they explain how their identity as a Muslim has been shaped by their family and they are seen as a positive influence and not one which seems to be restrictive for them.


  1. Identity


All of the comments come from a position of strength in relation to being a British Muslim; they are proud of their identity and are confident in it.  However, there is a suggestion that their positive experience on their journey may not be shared universally by young British Muslims.  For example, they speak of gender differences, that male and female young British Muslims may experience their identity differently and being “ … concerned for female muslims especially, purely because (they) know a couple of females who have had their head scarf pulled off in the street …” (p.8).


  1. Experiences of similarity and difference


The interviewee explains how they experience feeling both similar and different to their non-Muslim peers on occasions.  When they are on a night out, for example, they do not drink alcohol because of their religious beliefs.  They are fully integrated in relation to their peer group but they experience life in a way which is consistent with their religious beliefs, adapting their behaviour where necessary and in a way which does not appear to be problematic for them.  However, they recognise the potential conflict which exists when they state: “How i live my life is obviously different to how a normal British person would, like, i don’t eat pork, you know, i try to pray, so … as a British muslim… I suppose it does clash sort of with the culture, religion does slightly clash. So if I was like at home in Pakistan it wouldn’t clash because thats the way of living there” (p.2).  It is interesting that although they are British and Britain is ‘home’, they convey a sense of Pakistan also being ‘home’.


  1. Role of dress

The interviewee dresses differently according to where they are and who they are with.  Dress is an important theme because although they are confident in their identity, they are also aware of how they are perceived by others.  It is clear that part of their awareness comes from knowledge about how the media portray Muslims negatively: “ … it has made me bit more wary of … the sense of how I dress, obviously I dress like this now [jeans, t shirt, jumper], but … we have … loose fitting clothing to wear when we go to the mosque” (p.7).  There is some anger present when they talk of society’s negative perception of Muslim women’s dress, particularly clothing which does not hide the face.

Word count – 547

Prison officer transcript, Bradley (2017)

Researcher: “What are the hurdles you have experienced as a prison officer?”

Betty: “Hmmmmmm, what a question haha, where do I begin?

Well sometimes the staff can be the biggest barrier. Haha, I bet you thought I was going to say prisoners. It is these rogue staff, everyone highlights them… you will get staff that come in and think they will just turn up and that’s enough to earn their wages and they don’t care for the women. They don’t care for the other staff and they will do as little as possible and the sad thing is that they get well known really quickly then rise up the ranks. Pause.  Initially the biggest hurdle was other staff which was a shame, big shame. When you are totally excluded I’ve even see staff getting jobs over others, I’ve been interviewed and I think you’ve already chosen, that’s the problem with internal interviews, I wasn’t one of the in crowd, I’m not going to kiss your feet even if it’s something that I want. I came here and had a full staff meeting on decency and I do like it here, and I told the number one that. If we aren’t together what do we have? If the prisoners are troublesome they’re going to use that divide in the staff to their advantage.

With the staff’s naff behaviours, it’s almost like that’s acceptable because they’ve always done it. It compromises security and you’re working harder to get things back on par, and it’s like if I did this after a good track record… I don’t know why it’s like if you come in with low standard that’s ok and it never gets better. It’s only the odd person here and there and you know if you work with them on shift you know your work load has gone through the roof and I don’t like that it’s not nice”.

Researcher: “Oh wow, how do you navigate through these issues?”

Betty: “Not well haha. I don’t bother telling management because, well you just don’t. Then if I try to talk to them myself I get called a care bear. So I guess I just keep my head down you know. It is easier. You can probably tell that I overthink everything anyway. People tend to think I care too much about my job. I can remember applying for it actually. I was working in a crappy job in IT and I wanted to help people.”

Researcher: “So helping people was your motivation?”

Betty: “Yeah of course it is. You are not one of them who thinks we are all b****** are you?”

Researcher: “Oh no not at all, I am just interested in hearing about your motivations to join the prison service in the first place. Can you tell me what you meant?”

Betty: “Haha good because I am so sick of researchers coming with predisposed ideas that prison officers are t**** and at the end of the day we do our bloody best believe you me. Well, the good ones haha! Pause. So I read a newspaper one day on the bus home from work and there was an advert in it. It said “do you want to help people, join the prison service”. I wanted more out of my life and career at the time. I had just transformed my life and moved away from a bad relationship, so I was starting a fresh. I applied and did my training and I have never looked back too be honest. I see the trauma the women have experienced and it makes me more and more passionate about helping people in prisons to make a better life”.

Researcher: So the women talk to you about their experiences of trauma?

Betty: “All the time. For the ones that will tell you about it, it’s a shame because sometimes a lot of women you can see they’ve got issues and they don’t want to talk about it, because it’s part of hiding it that’s why they’ve ended up here because they’ve used drugs and alcohol to cope and you know push all of the trauma into the background. For the ones who do tell us sometimes you can’t even comprehend what they’ve been through, you know. The reason they’ve gone into prostitution and drugs it’s been a family member who started it and you think what chance did you have they’ve been sold, passed around, you just know there is another world that some people live in and it’s to accept it and support it”.

Researcher: So what support do you tend to offer?

Betty: “I think not being judgemental in itself as it breaks the barrier down to a conversation and that having the time to talk to them is good and I think it’s a bit hard because of the door situation you can still talk to women when they are locked in, but in previous experience we have had hatches and when the feel a bit low we could talk to them. I find myself zoning in on the ones who withdraw and ask them what the problem is you know, help them where you can and acknowledging that they are there so they are not invisible it’s a horrible thing to feel.  Not judging them some of them will tell you stories that you can never relate to in your own life it’s accepting it and saying you didn’t go out looking for that life it’s been thrust upon you I’m not going to judge you and I will try to understand you and empathise.  Even with limited time and that you can still take a minute and say how are you that in itself is a support because they acknowledge that they’re hear and they are valuable.

In the past, one thing depends on how well you know somebody because I can walk around and see someone who has thrown her tele (television) on the floor and I know her and I know it’s out of her usual behaviour so I know it straight away that’s somethings wrong, now I can go and talk to her and ask her what help she needs and what’s led to her doing what she’s done. It’s the way you approach them as well I could stand there and say ‘what’s wrong what’s happened’ and they will break down and tell me I can talk to superiors or whatever, see if the ACCT process is necessary because sometimes they break the tele and cut up with the glass or see if she’s on any courses, is there anything that we can offer her or refer her to deal with what the issue is. Unfortunately, sometimes a member of staff will come on who doesn’t know them, they will see that they have smashed their tele and the first words out their mouth is ‘you’re on report’ and it might end up leading to the same thing eventually, but then the woman’s had the added trauma of getting placed on report, dragged in front of the governor and then it’s getting them to believe. So often I ask and say, see that girl smashing up in room 4, does anyone know her because I might have missed something you know what I mean? There’s a lot of power in knowing the women and knowing when someone’s kind of off their normal behaviour, some are just downright nasty and some will just smash up because someone nicked (stole) their muffin that night but that’s a different kettle of fish.

I have done courses in the past you know sex workers in prisons and looking at their breakdown in percentages of drugs and alcohol, abuse and come from broken families and how they pass that on to their own. There is so many and I’d rather assume that a woman has issues until she tells me that she hasn’t, because on the whole they do and some women just don’t, they are like me and you and they have changed nicking (stealing) off their employer but I still prefer to air on a side of caution, to give them the resources, I am just nice and upfront rather that why’ve you done that I’m nicking you (prison term for placing a prisoner on report or to be sent to an adjudication hearing).

If I don’t know a woman I wouldn’t. Sometimes it helps that I’m a different face because they’ve made their judgment call on the staff and you know I don’t come to work to be liked but it helps. I’d rather like the women and I’d rather they like me, because if we trust each other we will get a lot further and they’re not going to play up and make my job harder and then that’s taking time away from other women who I could be helping it’s a balancing act you come on and you jump on your tight rope each day.

I say once you’ve got to know someone I’ve seen a woman go absolutely ballistic and staff are shouting at her and I’ve gone up to her, touched her arm and I’ve said (softly) come on what you doing, do you want to come and talk to me and then it’s all come out and it’s so much better when it’s like that because they feel like people care and you’re not just oh we are going to the seg. I see women going to seg (segregation) when I wasn’t there, I will have a week off… one woman I work with right she was a bit volatile but she had a cousin who used to come into prison and staff would see the name and they’d say ‘aw you’re a trouble maker aren’t you so she doesn’t stand a chance, I’ve put a label on you already but actually she was the cousin of the trouble maker so don’t blame her for it, shed had arguments with the staff and then they’d be EIP’ing (To take inceptives and privileges away) her and she said to me one day can I have a word with you, we had a nice chat and I said to her how do you manage to get into so much trouble? Sometimes it’s really difficult because I will go on cnomis (prison computer system) and write about a positive experience with her and I will get it in the neck off other staff saying do you know who that is? Do you know what she’s done in here? And I’m like you know what for the time that we were together she was a real friendly hopeful didn’t make any waves didn’t ask for anything she shouldn’t ask me for and I said what do you want me to do write something you want me to? I said I’m sorry you don’t like it but sometimes people have good moments as well as the bad moments and its worth recording them surely? Sometimes you look and its negative all the way through but sometimes what ends up on there is the result of us not being able to find the time to help that human being in there.  When I came back from my holiday she was in the seg, and it’s a killer.

Sometimes it’s different, sometimes I look at women and say you’re just obnoxious and I know that you’re going to make my job very difficult and I won’t have time for any of the other women and I’m going to be doing paperwork. Sometimes I understand that someone’s got issues but I will let someone else help because we might just bag heads together and get nowhere, it’s natural to dislike each other from time to time. Sometimes I think oh god what have I got coming at me. One time this women smashed open her hatch and scraped all of my arm and broke my bracelet, I was fuming. There was such a long history of mistrust and her being abusive and horrible I was wary of it but I accepted her apology, still had me reservations, just sometimes the make-up of two people aren’t right but I will always try, like 2 prisoners together don’t work staff and prisoners don’t work either.

It can be a long and complex journey when you’re trying to get a relationship with women with complex issues and get them to trust us but I think if you can get that it’s a good place, it doesn’t mean we can’t fix them, I’m not specialist but we can make an environment where we can make the best out of each other.

Researcher: Wow your role sounds multi-faceted! How would you explain the job of a Prison officer?

Betty: “A prison officer is a funny one because you look at the job description and we have spoken about it many times, you’re the person who keeps them inside keeps the  public safe and that’s the official role but all of it is like a mother, a sister, a friend, almost a nurse, a teacher, confidant, you could go on forever and sometimes they uniform gets in the way and that’s why some people don’t wear white shirt here it can be a barrier and you have to remind the women  that just because I’m in a uniform doesn’t mean I’m not like you because I am, we are all humans and we are on a different side of the bar and what I say to you might be helpful and I’m never going to turn you away.

I’d say officers like me are in the minority, someone I was an officer with who ended up failing his fitness test, he ended up in OMU he used to send me emails today and he used to write you care tooooo much the amount of o’s on it. It was a laugh and I did have a reputation for being a softy. When everyone else has given up I still keep going, it’s like I’m on a mission I can’t help myself. If a prisoner is really holding back I will actually peck away at them not in a horrible way but little bit here little bit here, like I’m still here, I’m still here, I’m still here and they will think you’re their best mate because you haven’t left them.

When I first started the job I had a girl who was really problematic crying and I wasn’t getting anywhere with her, she was really really hard work, she’s made such a mess of herself she’s barely a human being anymore and it’s sad, having worked with her for many years I’ve watched her deteriorate and it’s sad. She was hard work but now it’s sad.

But having a good relationship with the prisoners does create a rod for your back because when they need support they just make a beeline for you, but I can’t help who I am and I think it’s in you whatever it is, from the beginning that you’re a certain type of person. In my mind I’d rather grab someone while they have a relatively small issue before they are on an ACCT or looking into finding drugs to deal with their issues when all they need is for someone to have time to talk to them and listen them, it is hard because you haven’t got the staff and that in itself you’re walking around thinking wow. I’ve actually spent an hour talking to someone when I’m off duty and you walk out the staff are saying are you still here!

You know for the ones who don’t care, they’re on the radar but everyone’s ignoring them like that’s just her isn’t it. If I was the boss here and I was in charge id sack them, that’s me. I could look at a list of all of the staff now and they said who would you keep and who would you get rid of id be like sakc sack sack sack sack, keep, sack sack sack sack. It’s not even the officers, its OSGs, people who bring canteen to people! It’s their attitudes.

Other people would describe me as too far the other way and I think I annoy some people after a bit when they realise how I work but I can’t help it it’s just who I am and it’s got me by for 10 years but a lot of it is down to a person’s make up its got nothing to do with training, it’s the person. If I ignored a woman and something happened to her id have to resign I think, the responsibility is massive, I think sometimes people forget how much it is because there’s so much and so many people, so much happening that you can forget what a big deal it is that we do, but I don’t.

You know what I got told early days ‘ah give you a couple of months//years you will be like the rest of us’ and I’ve heard that from a lot of people who have been in the job 20 odd years thinking oh you smart arse coming in. Some staff will get jealous that you can talk to a prisoner and get the best out of them and they can’t but if I can get the best out of them it will be better for everyone. They said id change and then I remember some of the women saying to me please don’t change and be like the rest of them.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever had will probably get me into trouble and I know people are in prison to pay for what they’ve done but we don’t inflict more punishment on them they are in here and that is it, but I’ve had a number of women who over the years have said you’ve made me forget that I was in prison, I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing really. The only time I will remind a woman where she is, is when they start making irrational and silly expectations and it’s like this is not a hotel.

The uniform sometimes seems less of a uniform, we all have problems, different problems but there’s not a million miles away from a prisoner and officer.

Some people ask me why I’m a prison officer, some people say the pay was good, my dad does it and I though go and that sounds crap doesn’t it and they said to me why did you join up, I just want to make a difference. But then you go into the prison and you think god even the training didn’t prepare me for this.

It is like, women feeling like they aren’t invisible, sometimes it’s nice to think you’ve had a good effect on people and you might have changed something and they might not come back again. They say to do something selflessly, you do your job for no payback but when they do say something that’s nice and you think for all of the crap that you get in a job that does help and it’s a plus.

Subject:          So usually the way that I start all of this is by asking just a very simple question, and that’s when’s the first time you got in trouble with the law, how old were you?

Interviewer:   Probably about 11, it was family, he stood next to me and he gets one little kid and their family used to like just kick me and then run away.  Say I’m walking home from school right, and he’d like he’d be standing there and he’d say something cheeky and run away.  And I was chasing him to his house and that.  And one time I got done for, because the whole family used to get terrorised and that they all used to be all involved and that.  And then one day, one day I like I stood on their roof because you’ve got all houses in a row, and then you’ve got a little garden and you’ve got, at the end of the gardens you’ve got little sheds, but half of the shed is yours and half of the shed is somebody else’s.  I was on top of their shed and lobbing little stones that you get on top of them on roofs at that their windows and that, and then I got cautioned.

Subject:          So that would be the first time the police were called?

Interviewer:   Yes.  They came to my house and gave me a warning.

Subject:          And then what happened after that?

Subject:          I had my name taken down, like written down a couple of times, and when the police just come up to you and they’re like oh, what’s your name?

Interviewer:   And what was that for usually?  Was it kind of like being?

Subject:          It was like some kids would smash windows and that, so we’d have to run, and me and my mate got caught, and they were just, asked us for a name, and another time when I was with my mates and down near this shop in Eastside and one of the security guards was being all mouthy and that and kicked us out for no reason at the shop, thinking we’re trying to thief it and that, like steal, and then we were like oh why are we getting kicked out and that, and he was like well, two little black kiddies, he called me a racist name or something like that, like Blackie or something like that, so I started, I had like a McDonalds in my hand, so my milkshake I spat at him, and he quickly closed the door and locked the door with all the people inside and that, they all started running past him and kicking the door and that because I was like outside and that.

Interviewer:   What did you get done for for that?

Subject:          I went out with my mates, went back, like had this place that we hang around at, went back and my mates and that and when I told I them, I told them and they went, me and three other mates went down and smashed the security car van window through and that.  We got chased by the police.

Interviewer:   Was that criminal damage?

Subject:          And they knew it was me because the witnesses there.

Interviewer:   I mean obviously something else happened like because I mean usually young people don’t end up in X YOI until…

Subject:          Yeah, how it happened, like just hanging around and these two blokes, well this bloke just came round and he was pissed up and he started poking my mates and that.

Interviewer:   Older bloke or a young bloke?

Subject:          Old bloke, like a bald skinhead and that.  He was always like giving us bother and that like he’s always outside his window, so like when we’re just about to go home and that, he’d be like, “oi you, fuck off and go home.” We used to be like what you on about mate, we’ll go in a minute, we haven’t done anything.  And he’s like, “fucking little dickheads” and stuff like that.  Then the next thing he’d jumped out of his like, move from his window as though he’s going to come out and chase us and that and he’s like chased us.  So then one night we like came round and we were just there hanging around like by the shops and that, and we were just about to leave, and he came round because he was pissed up, he was there like poking my mate, saying you fuck off now, the police are coming.  My mate was like what you doing, we’re going now, so what you one about, and he was like, “Yeah, fuck off the police are coming.” So one of my mates just smacked him, he fell against the wall, came back and then he poked smacked him again and he fell over and then my mate smacked him again, so he stumbled away and then we just ran in and started kicking him and that.  That’s what I’m down for, that’s what I’m in here for.

Interviewer:   And how are you long in here for?

Subject:          Eight and do four.  And there was three other kiddies who just like pleaded not guilty, because they’ve seen me and my other … and because they’ve seen us go down, they’re pleading guilty because they know if they plead not guilty they’ll get longer.

Interviewer:   So right, I mean this must be all a bit of a shock for you.

Subject:          Yeah, it was at first because I thought I was just going to get a referral.

Interviewer:   Have you got a youth offending worker, who’s that?

Subject:          I don’t know in here, I can’t remember.  I’ve got a DTO in on Wednesday.

Interviewer:   And this is the bit now where we go through the family.  Have you got brothers and sisters?

Subject:          Yeah.  I’ve got a step-brother who lives at my house.  And I’ve got a step-dad.  I’ve got a brother and sister who are twins.

Interviewer:   And are you the only one who’s been in trouble with the law in the family?

Subject:          My brother, well, he hadn’t been in trouble, he’s been a victim.  My brother got stabbed.  It was all like stupid.

Interviewer:   Were the police called?

Subject:          Yeah, they caught him and that.

Interviewer:   And what did he get?

Subject:          A fine of like £400 and then a couple of hundred hours of.

Interviewer:   Oh right, got you, yeah.  So how do you get along with your step-dad, has he been around for long?

Subject:          A couple of years.

Interviewer:   And was your mum with your dad before that?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   So kind of they divorced, they separated?

Subject:          Separated.

Interviewer:   When you were in your early teenage years?

Subject:          Yeah, I would have been about 8 or something like that.

Interviewer:   And was that okay or was that rough.

Subject:          No.

Interviewer:   It wasn’t okay.  Do you have anything to do with your dad?

Subject:          Yeah, I see him and that.  He lives next to my nan as well, like his mum.

Subject:          Yeah, I get on with him alright.

Interviewer:   So how about schooling, tell me about schooling.  I mean obviously you know you’re here now but were you in school before you left?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   What were you doing?

Subject:          I was doing alright.  I asked them, the school said they’d sent in my course work to do in here.  I ain’t even got it.  I don’t know whether I have to ask them properly.

Interviewer:   Are you doing GCSEs or?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   What GCSEs are you doing, do you know?  Do you have a tutor in here?

Subject:          I just do education.

Interviewer:   And the person who does your education?

Subject:          Well, we just go over to the block and that, and it’s just all education.

Interviewer:   Well, there’ll be somebody in charge there, ask them, they’re the person you need to ask.

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   And if you don’t ask them, then the other person who will chase that up for you will be your Youth Offending Team worker.

Subject:          Yeah, that’s what my mum’s going to do.

Interviewer:   Yeah, because I mean that’s important to keep your education up.  So you’ve been at school all the time?

Subject:          Because I don’t want to get out and have stacks and stacks of course work and that.  Because I just ain’t going to do it in a couple of months.  Because you’ve got study leave and that, ain’t it .  If I don’t do any in here I’m just going to be in all the time studying and doing course work and I’m not going to be able to handle that, it’s just all stress.

Interviewer:   So tell me about school generally, you get on okay at school?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   So, and everything’s okay at school.  Have you ever been in trouble at school, I mean apart from the normal stuff, detentions or anything like that?

Subject:          Yeah, no, no I’ve never been in trouble like.  Yeah detentions like, but not like expelled or anything like that.

Interviewer:   Now let’s talk about the courts and what happened that got you in here and the time here, and what I really want to know is how much you understood what was happening?  I mean you got arrested, charged and bailed.  Did all of those things make sense to you as they were happening?  Did somebody explain what was happening?

Subject:          Yeah, I knew what was happening.

Interviewer:   And then there was a time where the Youth Offending Team did a report?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   And tell me about that, did they ring you, did they come round to your house?

Subject:          They come round to my house and asked me all questions and that.

Interviewer:   What sort of questions did they ask?

Subject:          What’s my life been like and that.

Interviewer:   And I mean did you find that you could talk to them?

Subject:          Hmm.

Interviewer:   So everything was okay, and did you get to read the report afterwards?

Subject:          Hmm.

Interviewer:   What did they recommend in the report?

Subject:          Referral.

Interviewer:   A referral order, right, and you pled guilty, didn’t you, yeah, you pled guilty.

Subject:          But not to stomping and that, I just pleaded guilty to kicking.

Interviewer:   And that was accepted, they allowed you to plead guilty?

Subject:          No, they just, I didn’t really understand what he was saying really, I was just there thinking, because when I left the courtroom, I had ten minutes to speak to my solicitor and that, and then went back in about five minutes, stood up and the judge was like oh go round the thing, then when I just walked in I was like just shocked, just shook man, I was there like, wasn’t even listening to what he said, just like looking around thinking what’s going on.

Interviewer:   Really, and then when you got in here did you have someone talking to you about what was happening?

Subject:          No, I knew what was happening.  I’m fine with things.  Like you know you walk through the door and that and you go down the stairs, I was fine, at first I was like I had a couple of tears and that, and when I got through the door because they didn’t even let me say bye to my mum or anything.

Interviewer:   Was you mum there in court, yeah, have you seen her since?

Subject:          Yeah.  They didn’t let me say anything to her like, it was all like let her come down and see me when I went through that little door.  And then after half an hour I was fine because they told me I was going to go to some boarding school and that, or a secure unit, and I was fine with that and my mate’s 17 and they said he was going to X YOI, so I was like that’s alright.  But then after near the end they were like oh no you’re going to X YOI, and that’s was tricked me a bit.  I was still find, as soon as I got here I was alright about everything.

Interviewer:   And in terms of the Youth Offending Team worker, do you know what they’re there for?  Have they talked to you about what they do?

Subject:          Yeah.  They helped me with like getting my school work into here and that, that’s what they’re helping me with.  But because it ain’t here already my mum’s asked the woman to like try and get them working.

Interviewer:   So, tell me this, and this is a slightly different set of questions for you.  It’s still about the courts and the processes and stuff like that, but tell me this, if you were the judge what would you have done to you, if you follow what I mean?

Subject:          Referral.

Interviewer:   You would have given you a referral?

Subject:          Because he would like, under the circumstances he gave us a gratitude for pleading guilty and that.  So I thought he was just going to give us a referral.  If I was the judge I would have given a referral but they pleaded guilty, they’ve other codes that had pleaded like not guilty and they know that as a factor of guilty.

Interviewer:   And do you think that what you did?

Subject:          Because I got done for violent disorder, so it’s like three or more people.  Because it’s five.

Interviewer:   Five of you.

Subject:          Yeah, five of us.  It’s got to be done like a group thing, ain’t it?

Interviewer:   And I mean is fighting something that happens a lot, do you get into a lot of fights?

Subject:          Sometimes with like my mates and that.  Like kids my age and that drunk and that, it’s like just when you’re out and you have a fight.  Occasionally, sometimes you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.  That’s all you can say really.

Interviewer:   And what about if you get bored easily?

Subject:          So you start going to different areas.  I don’t hang around in X anymore.

Interviewer:   How come?

Subject:          Nobody around.  Nothing to do.  Youth workers try and do stuff and it’s bull.

Interviewer:   What sort of things do they try and do?

Subject:          Give us like, give us a court, like a football and basketball court.  And it’s crap.  Like in the middle of a grass field, so you’ve got the concrete, it’s not even that big.  It’s got like, there’s just one half, you see you’ve got a basketball net at the top and you’ve got a little square… The thing that the youth workers try to do is like take us out on trips on that, like a trip to Germany and that they took us.

Interviewer:   That’s very good, isn’t it?  Did you go?

Subject:          Yeah, got sent back.

Interviewer:   And they sent you back?

Subject:          Well, first these other three kiddies wanted to leave because they’re pissed off with it and that.  They were going that day.  But it happened in the night and that and the next day they were going.  So I was like fuck this, I’m going, book me a flight now.

Interviewer:   And did they?

Subject:          Yeah, they booked a flight for everybody.  The police and that came and the fire and ambulance came.

Interviewer:   Wow.  So tell me about drinking and young people in X.  Is there a lot of that?

Subject:          Yeah.  They were letting us drink on holiday as well.

Interviewer:   Were they really?

Subject:          Yeah, the oldest kid was like 16.  And we were just there drinking, it was cheap and that.  And like we used to go to this supermarket and that and just buy drink with our shopping.  So we used to get shopping, like food and that, and then say like we used to be like give us a drink and that and they used to be like look at me.  It’d be like €4 for like a litre of like vodka.

Interviewer:   So do you, I mean do you drink, do you like drinking?

Subject:          Sometimes.  I’m going to drink when I get out, I’ll just get pissed up and that.  Then that’ll probably be it.

Interviewer:   Just kind of like a blow-out.

Subject:          Yeah, because like to be happy to be out, ain’t it, and my mum’s going to allow it because she’s happy as well.  I think most of the kids I bet do, I bet they have parties and that.  That’s what my mum … little party at my house.

Interviewer:   Do you think you’re going to get in trouble again with the law after this?

Subject:          No.  Not for a couple of months.  Like, it’ll probably just be like taking my name down and that, like because I got a mini motor and when I get, if I got caught on them they’d take my name down for it.

Interviewer:   So when did you first get in trouble with the law?  How old were you?

Subject:          Well, I can’t remember the exact age I was but I know it was when I got expelled from senior school.  I found like a motorbike, I didn’t steal it obviously but the police found me with it and the bike was known to be stolen, so I got arrested for it.  And that’s when I first got in trouble.

Interviewer:   What happened after that?  Did you go to court for that?

Subject:          No, I didn’t go to court for that but the first time I went to court was for affray, but that was because I was drinking a lot, like I started to drink a lot and got into a fight in town and I hit some bloke.  And a couple of my other mates did.  And I got arrested for it and then went to court, and that was the first time I went to court.

Interviewer:   Did you get a referral?

Subject:          Yeah, I got a referral order.

Interviewer:   And how did that go?

Subject:          It was a bit – well, I don’t know, I didn’t really turn up to much of it but a lot of the time my youth worker was off like ill or something, so I got off to like a bad start with it.

Interviewer:   And then what happened after that?

Subject:          I don’t know, I think it just finished after that, but then I got into trouble again.  Like it’s really through this year that I’ve got into all my trouble.  And I’ve been drinking a lot more.  And I got arrested for street robbery, which I got found not guilty at crown court, but my other friend he got found guilty; he’s got 3½ years for it.

Interviewer:   What did they give you?

Subject:          Oh, I just got found not guilty but at the time I was going to crown court I had done a burglary and I was really drunk, and I couldn’t remember much about it, but I was put on tag for that.  But then I cut through my tag, when back to court and I asked if I could just go on remand for a little bit to get away from drink because I knew I would keep getting into trouble, I was just doing what was best for me.  And after those two weeks in there I thought I was ready just to come out and start over again.  But then I ripped my tag off again like the second day I was out and then went back to court and I got – I think it’s something like a year’s supervision order.

Interviewer:   And that’s what you’re on now, is it?

Subject:          Yeah, and a £550 fine.

Interviewer:   How are you going to pay that?

Subject:          Well, my mum’s paying it at the minute.

Interviewer:   Good Lord, that’s a lot of money.

Subject:          Yeah, and then I breached it again and then they were going to fine me for breaching this as well.

Interviewer:   Have they fined you or–?

Subject:          No.  Because they let me carry on with it, and I’ve been seeing a drugs and alcohol worker as well to keep me off the drink.

Interviewer:   And is that part of your order as well, I mean do you see it as a problem?

Subject:          Well, yeah I do see that drinking is a problem because I wouldn’t really get into trouble like if I haven’t been drinking.  It’s only when the drinks in me and I tend to like whatever anyone else is doing I tend to like–

Interviewer:   Just go along with it, yeah?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   And has it always been the case?  I mean you said to me like all the trouble started after you got expelled from school.

Subject:          Yeah, I was kicked out of school, just not doing nothing, just hanging around, you know, like teenagers like just hanging around, nothing to do.  So was just getting into crime like, nicking from shops and that.

Interviewer:   So it was something to do really?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   And how about now, how do you fill your days now?

Subject:          Well, it’s just boring really, isn’t it, just go to sleep at night, get up late.  If I’ve got this, I’ll come to it, but I’m going to get a job to get back on track.

Interviewer:   What sort of job do you want?

Subject:          Labouring I looking at, just like a trade I can have for the rest of my life.

Interviewer:   From what you’ve just said to me, it sounds like you’ve got fed up with drinking and…

Subject:          Obviously I still drink and that on the weekends but like everyone does on weekends, even though I’m not old enough to drink but, because obviously because I got into like a routine of drinking I couldn’t just stop like that and obviously go without a drink.

Interviewer:   And do you live with your mum?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   What about your dad?

Subject:          Yeah, my dad, all my family lives at home – well, my sister’s got her own place like.

Interviewer:   And tell me about that, how many brothers and sisters have you got?

Subject:          Well, I’ve got two sisters and one of my sister’s got two kids.

Interviewer:   She’s a bit older then you then?

Subject:          She’s like 22, she did have like a kid at a young age but they’re beautiful and I love them to bits.

Interviewer:   So you’ve got these two nieces that you adore.  Do you get to spend much time with them?

Subject:          Yeah, they’re always at my house every day.  Every day.

Interviewer:   I’ve got two nieces exactly the same age, I adore them.

Subject:          Yeah, so do I, I love them to bits.

Interviewer:   And so tell me about, did your sisters ever get into trouble or your dad?

Subject:          No, not really.  No, my sister got arrested once for being in a stolen car but she don’t drink, she don’t smoke, nothing like that.

Interviewer:   So she’s kind of, you know…?

Subject:          A bit the other way yeah, she goes to college, everything.  She’s more laid back as well, more of a bubbly girl.

Interviewer:   So you get a bit tense then?

Subject:          Yeah, I’ve got a bit of anger problem as well.

Interviewer:   And is that something that you’ve decided or is that something…?

Subject:          No, I knew that I got an anger problem, and I’ve done like anger management and that when I was younger but it never really helped me.  And child psychology and that.

Interviewer:   Yeah, and did that help you?

Subject:          No, I don’t see any of it helping me.

Interviewer:   And tell me a little bit about why it didn’t help?

Subject:          I don’t know.  Just things like speaking to me, I don’t think it’s going to help.  I think it’s got to be me that’s got to stop using, lashing out, and I can but something can make me go that far and I just… Like once the drink’s in me, cider just makes me very…

Interviewer:   Really?

Subject:          Yeah, nasty I can be.

Interviewer:   You said that you’re seeing a drugs and alcohol worker, is that helping?

Subject:          Yeah, it is helping.  It is making me like think a bit more about like she’s there to help.  I’ve cut down a lot on my drink.

Interviewer:   And what does she do, does she talk with you?

Subject:          Yeah, she doesn’t stay for that long, she just stays and like just like talks to me, and I can’t remember what she said today because I had her.  She was on about this new place down in town and I can go down, go on the computers and like they get you into like things like music and stuff like that.

Interviewer:   Oh that’s good.

Subject:          Like a drinking course as well, to get me off it.

Interviewer:   And do you kind of think that kind of makes you think, do they?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   How did your parents react when you started getting in trouble with the law?

Subject:          I don’t know, my dad more or less like because like he’s got a little bit of a temper like me, he more or less just goes like I can’t, don’t want to speak to me or anything; he just don’t want to know.  Like my mum she’s stuck by me.  They both want me to do well in life and but I’m now mucking that up, and my dad just can’t be dealing with it, but my mum will stick by me through whatever I do, because she’s the one that’s got to pay my fines and everything.  But she tries not to let my dad know about all the trouble I get in because he will hit the roof.

Interviewer:   And what does hitting the roof look like?  I mean does your dad yell at you?

Subject:          He goes really mad.  He’ll just walk out and he’ll probably leave us, and I don’t want that, just because of me getting into trouble like.

Interviewer:   So I mean do you worry about him leaving you or has your mum told you that he might leave you?

Subject:          Yeah, we all worry about it, because really we are a close family, unless I’m naughty.  That’s all it is.

Interviewer:   And so when you get naughty it puts a lot of pressure on the family?

Subject:          Yeah, it does.

Interviewer:   Why do you think you’ve got into trouble?

Subject:          Just because I’m bored and drink basically; boredom and drink.

Interviewer:   And do you think that anything that’s happening up here at the Youth Offending Team can help?

Subject:          Yeah, I think it more or less can like make me think a bit more about things.  Like it’s about time I’ve got to start growing up and getting a job and stop stealing things off people and that, because that’s what they work for, isn’t it.

Interviewer:   And because I mean this is what the third order that you’ve had, two … breach of the original order.  I mean if I was to say to you something like well the tagging didn’t help much, did it?

Subject:          No, I think that’s the worse thing to do.  It’s only because I know I’ve had – well there’s no point in putting me on tag because I’m going to breach it, because also when I done the crime and really I do need to be punished but it’s only because I was on curfew basically from when I got done for the affray in January, then it was dragging on and dragging on, and I was getting into more and more trouble, but they just kept putting me on bail conditions, like on curfew at 7 o’clock and I was on that from January right up until like September, and that’s long.  And in between that I was like on tag, I was in the cells.  Just basically I’ve had a bad year.

Interviewer:   Yeah, I mean that does sound like it.  So something that you said, you’ve done the crime so you know you need to be punished.  Do you really believe that?

Subject:          Yeah, no, I do believe that.  I’m a different person when I haven’t got drink or anything in me because basically say like I’ve had like a really bad argument and then I think oh I don’t care I’m just going to get into trouble – because that’s what I do I wait until I’ve got drink in me, I think oh I don’t care anymore, I’m just going to go nick a car or something just to get me in trouble, get me away from everything.  And then – but when I’m sober I’m a different person, I think no there’s no point doing that.

Interviewer:   So talk to me about the court, your experience in the courts.  I mean, you know, I sat in the court watching everything.  It must have taken me a good month and a half to figure out what on earth was going on.  I found it a very confusing experience.  What was it like for you?

Subject:          I don’t know.  The first time I went to court it wasn’t like what I expected it to be.  Like I thought it was going to be like what actual crown court is like but it wasn’t nothing like that, it was just like go down there and then speak to your solicitor and then just go in and they ask you your name and date of birth and that.

Interviewer:   But then I mean after the next couple of times that you went, it was–

Subject:          Getting a bit annoying.

Interviewer:   Was it?

Subject:          And I was just standing there thinking over and over again.  I hate it when they ask you to speak about the crime, what you’ve done, and I don’t know why.  And like when they said oh at the burglary what I done, what I took from those people and everything like it made me feel really bad.

Interviewer:   Did it?

Subject:          Yeah.

Interviewer:   So if you could tell your solicitor to say two things to the court that you think the magistrates absolutely need to know about you, what would they be?

Subject:          That I’m a really nice person if they actually knew me but I just get into trouble through the drink and it is like an actual problem for me.

Interviewer:   So is it just the times when you’re in court that they’re saying that you’re not a nice person?

Subject:          Yeah, sometimes.  Because they look at you like, because of what – all they see you as is what you’ve done, like the crime what you’ve done.  They just think oh yeah he’s going to carry on doing it.  That’s what they look at you as, a criminal, or whatever you’ve done.

Interviewer:   And you know when the magistrate speaks to you, do you ever, I mean I can’t remember from when you were in court, but do they ever ask you anything?

Subject:          Yeah, a couple of times.  Like did I feel like bad for what I’ve done.  And I just, yeah I did.  Just speak to them politely, no matter what they think, because then they can’t say nothing or whatever.


Interviewer:   So the other question that I always ask is about the police.  Now I mean I’ve heard all sorts of different stories about the police, once they know your name, that’s about it and they’ll give you hassle.

Subject:          Yeah, that’s what it’s like.

Interviewer:   Is that what it’s like?

Subject:          Yeah, I get stopped all the time.  Used to – like the other night I walked up there just to meet my mates, straightaway as soon as the police see me they turn back round, come along, stop, put me in the back of the car and done a name check.

Interviewer:   Really?

Subject:          That’s why … I don’t know whether like if I got drunk and done something or like are they just going to nail something on me.

Interviewer:   That sounds a bit tough.

Interviewer:   So talk to me about the Youth Offending Team workers.  Is it working at the moment?

Subject:          Yes it’s starting to … At first I got, it started off a bit on the rough patch with X.  Like because she even said that as well because I was a bit rude to her; like I put the phone down a couple of times like that.  That was just while I was going through hangovers and I couldn’t be bothered to like do anything.  But now I’ve like changed like.  But we get on alright now.

Interviewer:   So let’s do a little bit of, a kind of imaginary game for a second here.  If you were the Prime Minister, all the power, all the money of the country, and you were told you have to stop youth crime, what would you do?

Subject:          Let me think, more facilities like, the sort of things that you think criminals would get into, like say something like a place where they can learn how to drive a car, even though they’re not old enough, somewhere just to like rally cars and provide motorbikes and that and then there’s no need to get stolen motorbikes, is there.

Interviewer:   Would you do anything about school?  I mean one of the things that’s been … amongst the young people that I’ve spoken to so far is that you’ve all left school at a fairly early age, you know, and you…

Subject:          Yeah, give them the chance to go back and get a proper education and a job.  I’d do that.  Another chance.

Interviewer:   Alright, so you’ve got education, you’ve got facilities for young people, anything else that you’d do?  What would you do about alcohol?

Subject:          I wouldn’t say ban it but I think put it up to older age or something.  I don’t know if that would help really because you’re still going to get people to get it for you, ain’t you, wherever you go.

Interviewer:   Do you think your parents could have done anything more or less to kind of–?

Subject:          No, they brought me up, they gave me what I wanted, I’ve never needed to go out and steal.

Interviewer:   So Gerard, how old are you?


Subject:          I’m 16.


Interviewer:   And when was the first time that you had trouble with the law?

Subject:          Three years ago school.

Interviewer:   And what did you do?

Subject:          I had a fight with another student.

Interviewer:   Was it a bad fight, and were the police called?

Subject:          Yes.

Interviewer:   And what did they do?

Subject:          They came to my house a couple of weeks later and knocked on the door and that, and they arranged time for me to go down.  And he said usually it wouldn’t have been taken to court like, but it was a serious fight.  They took it to court and that, and I’ve got youth offending, I have to come up here for three or four months until my court case, I was out … and group of mates were having a fight, and I went to split it up between two of my mates and I got hit in the back of the head, and I retaliated with them and that, then I had to go to court for that as well.

Interviewer:   And then what happened after that?

Subject:          Last time, I was walking through X Park, and me and my mate were walking through, and my mate went up to someone and asked for a cigarette, and he said he didn’t have any.  And then she walked off to the fence, and I was sat on the roundabout, and I think my mate must have asked him for money and that, for spare change, and the guy was climbing the fence, and my mate grabbed his leg.  So the guy kicked my mate in the head a couple of times, so I went over and helped pull the guy off the fence, but he cut his hand.  And he showed us his hand, I didn’t think, I didn’t really want to get involved with anything … So basically I started to walk away and then the police found out, and the guy got me confused with my mate and I got arrested for that, my mate like the day after, and he got charged with street robbery, attempted street robbery and I got charged with GBH.  And I’m up here now for that.

Interviewer:   Oh, is that still ongoing is it?

Subject:          That’s what I’m up for now.

Interviewer:   What’s a normal day in Gerard’s life at the moment?

Subject:          Wake up, come to Youth Offending, after Youth Offend I go to college and usually I finish early at college, go out, meet some mates.

Interviewer:   What’s it like growing up in X?

Subject:          There’s not much to do really.

Interviewer:   What do you do in the evening?  What are the options for the evening, a Friday or a Saturday night?

Subject:          Well, you can either go in and be bored, or stay out and be bored.

Interviewer:   Really, as bad as that?

Subject:          Yes, basically all it is is walking around, here’s nothing to do really.  Unless you’re drinking or smoking.

Interviewer:   Do you drink a lot?

Subject:          Sometimes, not much.

Interviewer:   And do you have like a group of friends?

Subject:          Yes, most of my mates have been to jail and that as well.

Interviewer:   Really?

Subject:          Pretty much so, in X everyone you’re going to hang round with is going to be someone who’s been to jail.

Interviewer:   How come?

Subject:          It’s like a small place really, and there’s nothing to do in X, and most of them have to like, their mum don’t give them much, you know, their mum and dad have split up and their mum can’t give them much, so you’ve got to make money other ways and that.

Interviewer:   Yes, what are the kind of normal way to make money?

Subject:          Well, I believe right, I don’t know, sell something.  Sometimes do a burglary or a street robbery to make money, pretty much.

Interviewer:   And I mean I’m assuming that if you’re on New Start then you were, were you kicked out of school or did you stop going to school?

Subject:          I moved schools from {?} to X and at X I got kicked out.  Then I went to X, and then just for the week go to college, and then I got into college.

Interviewer:   How old were you when you got kicked out of X?

Subject:          14.

Interviewer:   So that was a couple of years ago then?

Subject:          Yes.

Interviewer:   And why did you get kicked out of X?

Subject:          I don’t know because I got ADHD and I find it hard to concentrate, so I lose my temper quite easily.  Well, I can hold my temper, it’s just when I lose it, then I can’t calm myself down.

Interviewer:   And did the school not help?

Subject:          Well, they had this little hut which they sent people to if they had like either learning difficulties or they were naughty, and they sent me to that hut a couple of times.

Interviewer:   And how was that, was that any good for you?

Subject:          It was worse because in mainstream school and that, you could talk and that, but in this room you couldn’t talk or anything.

Interviewer:   So you had sit down and be quiet.

Subject:          Yes, like that really.

Interviewer:   Really, so it was just like a punishment I should think?

Subject:          Yes, it was meant to be something which helped, but it was more like a punishment really.

Interviewer:   So here’s another question for you then, have you got brothers and sisters?

Subject:          Yes, I’ve got two sisters and two brothers.

Interviewer:   Have any of them been in trouble with the law?

Subject:          My brother, he got caught on Thursday and I think he’s going to jail, but like not on Thursday, he’s my twin brother as well.

Interviewer:   Really?

Subject:          Yes, but he had a serious fight I think in X, two man attacked us, they’re scared because this girl pushed his son over, and the kid ran round the corner to his dad, and his dad got his mate to come round to hit the girl.  About five or six boys went over and beat the man up, my brother was in the group.

Interviewer:   He hit the …

Subject:          Yes, they come round to have a go at the girl, and he pushed the girl over, so my mate and some others like went over, was just walking past, went over and like split up and that, and the man started pushing one of the kids in the head, saying you’d better go away now.  So the group of kids beat the man up, but it got a bit out of hand because the man kept fighting and so did the kids.  And yes, it got a bit out of hand, and the guy’s ribs got broken and broken arm and that as well.

Interviewer:   Yes, well that’s pretty rough.

Interviewer:   And is that kind of, I mean I know you said it got a bit out of hand, but is that typical?

Subject:          Yes, sort of really.  Well, it’s not, it’s typical that there’s some kind of like when my mate’s drunk and then has drunk that and like they’re like walk past and that lot, give little insults and that, because my mates all wear their hoods up and that.

Interviewer:   Yes, okay, and so that’s one brother, you said you’d got two brothers?

Subject:          I’ve got a 4 year old brother as well, he’s like my half brother, and he is like good, no trouble with him.

Interviewer:   Right, do you see your dad much?

Subject:          Yes, I work with him twice a week and I sometimes go up there on the weekend.  And usually me and my brother, like me and my brother and my sister usually go up there for like a meal in the week or something.

Interviewer:   So you get on pretty well with him then?

Subject:          Yes.

Interviewer:   And does your mum get along well with him?

Subject:          She’s not, well they don’t really argue and that, but they don’t get on.

Interviewer:   Okay, how long ago was it since they split up?

Subject:          About eight years, more.  Quite a long time, yes.

Interviewer:   Was that rough for you when they split up?

Subject:          I can’t really remember it really because I was like pretty young.

Interviewer:   And so, yes, to the wider family, do they, and your mum, how does she feel about you being in trouble with the law?

Subject:          What, my mum?

Interviewer:   Yes.

Subject:          I don’t know, because she sort of struggles to look after me and my brother and my sister because we’ve all got like behaviour difficulties and that, so she struggles and that, but she tries, she can’t really do much I suppose.  I try not to be naughty because it’s stressful for her and that.

Interviewer:   Do you get on okay with her generally?

Subject:          Yes.

Interviewer:   Generally things are okay at home?

Subject:          Yes, but if I’ve had a hard day at college or something, and someone’s really annoyed me all day at college and that, and I go home and my mum does one little thing, I usually take my anger out.  I don’t know why, just like, so she’s usually pretty stressed out.

Interviewer:   And is she able to give you any money, or is that really just your dad who helps out?

Subject:          Sometimes gives me money, not much.  Well, my brother don’t work at all, my twin, so he don’t work at all, so he don’t really get money much.  So he does more like, because he hasn’t got a job, he goes out and does like burglary and street theft or something.

Interviewer:   So tell me something else, is there anyone in the Youth Offending Team who’s really helped you so far?

Subject:          X.

Interviewer:   And why did you like working with her?

Subject:          Because she’s really good and she told me about anger and that, and where it comes from and things like that.

Interviewer:   And did she do anything else apart from how to explain yourself?

Subject:          Yes, she like gave me little work sheets on feelings, like of the victim and that.

Interviewer:   Did that help do you think?

Subject:          Yes, before I didn’t really think about fear and victims, I’d no idea, like my mates are out causing trouble and that, I usually try to split up the things like people and that.

Interviewer:   And has there ever been anyone from the Youth Offending Team who you’ve just thought, this is a waste of my time?

Subject:          Yes, not really, but X didn’t really do much.  I used to come up, like how’s your week been, oh it’s been good, fine you can go.  And he used to be like, you behave and take this work sheet home and do it.  But I did quite like that because I was only in the office like five minutes so yes.  X good as well, but I haven’t really got into it much with X.  I’ve only been doing it for like two, three weeks, so not far into my sentence yet, not far into my Youth Offending Order.

Interviewer:   So is this sort of crystal ball thing, do you know what I mean, pretend that you’re the Prime Minister.

Subject:          All right.

Interviewer:   Right, money’s no object, and what you have to do this week is you have to solve the problem of youth crime, that’s what you’ve got to do this week.  What would you do?  Knowing what you know now, because of the way you’ve grown up, what you’ve been involved in, right, pretend that you’re 40 years old, and you’re going to solve the problem of youth crime, what would you do for young people in X?

Subject:          Probably have like things for kids to do more.  Like cheap things as well, because there’s not enough, there is something to do, but they’re usually quite expensive and that.  So for the kids that can’t really afford it, there’s nothing for them to do, so I’d open up somewhere to, all right, obviously make it nice and that, but a youth club or something that’s cheap to run, things like that, that people pay to come in, but not much.

Interviewer:   Okay, what sort of things would you put in the youth club?

Subject:          Basketball courts, snooker tables, vending machine, computers, PCs to go on the internet and that.  Anything that the kids would find fun, maybe a games room.

Interviewer:   And then what else would you do, do you think?  Do you think you’d do anything about schools?

Subject:          Yes, probably I’d do like, I’d put like a block where kids with needs can go and that, but I would make sure that staff there understand the kids with like difficulties and that.

Interviewer:   Okay, do you think that one of the problems that got you in trouble with the law has been not having something to do and not being understood by the staff at school?

Subject:          Yes

Interviewer:   Yes, so I mean do you think in terms of the courts, do you think they do anything to help?

Subject:          I don’t know, they like, I don’t know, kind of scare you a bit, make you think, oh, I’d better not do something like that again.

Interviewer:   Do you think that helps?

Subject:          Sort of.

Interviewer:   Yes, because they do speak to you mean, don’t they?

Subject:          Yes, no, they don’t scare me, but it’s just the whole procedure of getting arrested and taken to the cells, spending the night in the cells waiting for my mum to get down there, having an interview.  Sometimes you have to have an ID parade as well.

Interviewer:   So you’d get school to understand people with needs a little bit more, you’d get youth clubs in that were affordable for young people to do something.  Anything else, would you do anything to kind of address that whole kind of street fighting thing?

Subject:          I don’t know, because obviously if I was Prime Minister or something, I’d put like a unit, just like a police unit just for like, just walk round the streets and that looking out for that, like there’s always police walking round the streets just to check up on youth and that.

Interviewer:   Here’s the very last question, let’s pretend that you’re 4 years old again.  So you’re not the Prime Minister, you’re now your uncle, right, or your dad.  What would you say to you now to help, I mean I don’t know, do you think it’s a problem that you’ve got into these fights, or got in trouble with the law, okay.  So if you were your dad, what would you do to stop you doing it?

Subject:          I don’t know, I wouldn’t ground them or hit them in any way.  I’d probably not give them as much money.  Stop them from buying alcohol and things, I’d probably want to know where he’d gone so I could check up to see what they’re doing.

Interviewer:   What would you want your parents to do?

Subject:          If they cared a bit more because, I don’t know, my mum didn’t, she cares about me now, but I can go in at any time I want and things like that.

Interviewer:   Right, so if your mum turned around and said, that’s it Gerard, you’re not going out until ten o’clock again.

Subject:          Yes, that would probably help, because basically I could stay out all night and she wouldn’t ring me.

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