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Forensic Evidence and Case Attrition in the England and Wales Criminal Justice System (SF19/LAW/MCCARTNEY1)

  • Full or part time
    Prof C McCartney
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

This research will focus upon the perennial issue of the discontinuation of criminal cases, looking specifically at those cases that include forensic evidence, which have been passed to prosecuting authorities for decisions to charge and progress. The failure of the majority of criminal investigations to progress to trial, continues to cause consternation when considering the risk of offenders evading justice and the wasted expense of investigations which result in no further action being taken. This is exacerbated where a criminal case has consumed significant policing/ prosecution resources, in particular where significant forensic analysis has taken place. This study will examine those cases where forensic evidence has been sought and yet the case is not advanced to the trial stage or where a conviction is not recorded. There is an underlying assumption that forensic testing is only sought in cases that are capable of proceeding to trial. Understanding how often, and why, despite the existence of forensic evidence a case still does proceed to a prosecution will be essential to understand the causes of high, and at present unaccounted for, attrition in such cases. The study of this ‘black hole’ of investigations including evidential forensic analysis should elucidate some reasons for the failure of criminal cases to proceed to trial. In understanding the reasons for non-prosecution of cases which have forensic evidence available, evidence-based policy recommendations can be formed that should address the attrition rates and /or save the expenditure of resources on cases that can be identified at an earlier stage in the criminal process as those that will not proceed to prosecution. Finite scarce resources (in particular, forensic analysis) can then be intelligently targeted. Such study is also capable of illuminating risks that may lead to potential miscarriages of justice.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.

Related Subjects

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