Justice, Law and Human Rights

There is no uniform adoption and application of an international set of rules upholding what is ‘right’ to protect society’s most vulnerable.

Disparities exist within and between countries; killings and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists persist despite international scrutiny and condemnation; unsecured rights for ethnic minorities, marginalised peoples, the young and the differently-abled all illustrate that there is little room for complacency within the arenas of law and justice.

Addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, our publishing in this area examines how the law is responding, or failing to respond, to these issues in a global context.

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Justice, law and human rights, we aim to address the following goals: 

Justice, Law and Human Rights

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Prevention in Practice

How big a problem is torture? Are the right things being done to prevent it? What does the UN do, and why does is appear at times to be so impotent in the face of torture?

In this vitally important work, Malcolm D. Evans tells the story of torture prevention under international law, setting out what is really taking place in places of detention around the world. Challenging assumptions about torture’s root causes, he calls for what is needed to enable us to be in a better position to bring about change.

The author draws on over ten years’ experience as the Chair of the United Nations Sub-Committee for Prevention of Torture to give a frank account of the remarkable capacities of this system, what it has achieved in practice, what it has not been able to achieve – and most importantly, why.

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Critical Questions of Youth, Gender and Race On-Road
Editors: , , and

‘On-road’ is a complex term used by young people to describe street-based subculture and a general way of being. Featuring the voices of young people, this collection explores how race, class and gender dynamics shape this aspect of youth culture.

With young people on-road often becoming criminalised due to interlocking structural inequalities, this book looks beyond concerns about gangs and presents empirical research from scholars and activists who work with and study the social lives of young people. It addresses the concerns of practitioners, policy makers and scholars by analysing aspects and misinterpretations of the shifting realities of young people’s urban life.

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This article examines the views of 29 victim survivors (who were part of a larger study) who retrospectively disclosed non-recent child sexual abuse regarding their reasons for disclosure, the child protection and criminal justice responses to them, and the possible ways for improving system responses to address their needs and interests. The reasons for disclosure centred on a desire to pass the burden of the abuse to someone else, to achieve a subjectively defined form of justice and to regain power and control over their lives. Following disclosure, victim survivors often found themselves involved in two forms of investigation: child protection and criminal justice. The findings suggest that criminal justice systems do not adequately address victims’ needs in these circumstances. They often feel marginal to child protection investigations and feel used instrumentally in those proceedings. However, having social workers ‘rattle the cage’ of perpetrators provided comfort for some victim survivors who failed to get justice through criminal justice mechanisms. Based on the research presented in this study, it is suggested that restorative justice may have something to offer as part of the response to non-recent disclosures of child sexual abuse as part of both criminal justice and child protection investigations and processes.

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What Every Practitioner Should Know

This book aims to make clear the interconnections between social policy and criminal justice practice, bringing together key social policy concepts within a framework for reducing reoffending rates. The book focuses on the key social policy issues of employment, health and mental health, low income and poverty, housing and family. It shows how understanding and treating these as issues interconnected to criminal justice outcomes can and does lead to improvements in criminal justice practice.

This book enables students and criminal justice practitioners to understand how a social policy focus can better inform practice with those involved in the criminal justice system. It features:

  • A 10 point summary of key points for learning;

  • Chapter heading questions to support independent learning;

  • Tables and graphs to illustrate the text.

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Intimate partner violence is a global problem experienced by all population groups, irrespective of socio-economic, religious and cultural background, and including both women and men. This systematic narrative review synthesises empirical research to draw conclusions on facilitators of, and barriers to, accessing help for victims of intimate partner violence. A search in Scopus, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline and PsycInfo conducted in October 2021 identified 864 articles that were independently reviewed to yield 47 relevant studies published between 2011 and 2021 in peer-reviewed journals. The included studies were synthesised using the following headings: (1) personal aspects; (2) family and friends; (3) community factors; (4) referral channels; (5) financial aspects; and (6) service issues. The severity of injury seemed to be a key factor in deciding to seek help. Family and friends were helpful to victims who were looking for support with their relationship and as a support on their journey towards services. A third key finding was that health and care systems are important referral channels for intimate partner violence services. As supports in intimate partner violence develop, consideration is required not only of the trauma of the victim but also how to communicate and facilitate access to help.

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It can be difficult for researchers to access research participants from vulnerable populations. Focusing on the single victim interviewee recruited for my human trafficking-related research, this article will examine the method employed to conduct research with her, which I term ‘case study by proxy’: a new hybrid qualitative methodological approach combining elements of the case study and interview by proxy methods. This may prove to be a valuable methodological tool for researchers studying vulnerable populations.

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Six unarmed men were shot dead by the British Army in the New Lodge area of Belfast in the North of Ireland on the 3rd and 4th February 1973. Collectively, these men are known as the New Lodge Six. There has never been a public inquiry into how or why they died. Eyewitnesses were not interviewed and there was a terrifying absence of police investigation into why six unarmed men were killed by British forces. No British soldiers were ever prosecuted in relation to this case. This intervention outlines what happened to the six unarmed men and how the British Army claimed the New Lodge Six were involved in a gun battle with troops. The intervention has three interlocking aims. Firstly, the aim is to draw attention to the case following the 50th anniversary of the shootings. Secondly, the intervention calls for a public inquiry into the New Lodge Six killings, which share troubling similarities with the shooting of unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday twelve months earlier. Finally, the aim is to position the case within the context of other conflict-related killings and to highlight the injustice of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, which is currently making its way through the British Parliament.

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Over recent decades, ‘social innovation’ has become a buzzword. The term breathes progress and promising improvements but often stays rather theoretical instead of bringing real social change. In this article, the meaning of social innovation in the context of social work and social work research is explored, as well as how social work research can contribute to social innovation. It is argued that if social innovation is defined properly and connected with the values expressed in the international definition of social work, it can strengthen the identity and impact of social work and social work research. Social quality is presented as a theoretical framework that fits well for positioning social work research aimed at innovation. Enhancing social quality can be done in many ways, such as revealing the causes and mechanisms of social exclusion, supporting change processes by monitoring and evaluation, or co-creating better solutions by using action and design research methods.

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In recent years, there has been an increased focus on using art as an approach in the field of social work. This article examines how painting art can become a valuable tool for communication and social participation for children who suffer from environmental challenges at school and in their upbringing environment. The research is in collaboration with Peacepainting, which uses art painting workshops worldwide to work for equality and peace. Within the framework of social work, we explore painting art as a tool for communication and artistic activity as a social-learning process developed through modes of belonging in a community of practice. Through fieldwork consisting of observation of painting processes, the children’s participation in the workshop and individual interviews with children and instructors, the empirical findings show that artwork provided the children opportunities to experience themselves in new ways through visual expression, which increased their self-confidence. The findings show that painting workshops have the potential to be a changemaker in society and an essential tool in social work practice, creating individual learning processes for the participants, establishing a community for inclusion of exposed groups and contributing to changing the processes of established structural institutions, such as schools, welfare services and the local municipality.

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