Meet the Team
Click on each of the profiles below to find out more information about each of our project team.
Prof Mike RowePrincipal Investigator, Northumbria University
I have long been interested in the unusual position that the police seem to occupy in popular culture and the public imagination in England and so we are addressing some themes that have fascinated me for quite some time. Around the time that we began designing the project I noticed that an old Edwardian police station near to where I live was being shut down. At the same time, on my way to work every day, I noticed a new shiny chrome and glass building going up, and this turned out to be the new police HQ. This set me thinking about the symbolic and communicative nature of police buildings: these are topics that prison researchers, for example, have done plenty of really useful work in recent years and I hope that we add to that by exploring similar themes in relation to policing. We want to broaden understanding of police visibility, and move beyond 19th century models that assume this is entirely about officers on patrol. In this project visibility is addressed in terms of buildings and property, the material culture of policing (flags, symbols, popular cultural representation), and in relation to the presence of police on social media. In terms of method and outputs, visibility is also key to the project. Photo Voice techniques and appreciate enquiry are important methods at several stages, and we are producing material for the web, an exhibition and a documentary film. We have a lot of work ahead, but this is a hugely exciting project. Please check back to the website for updates to find out more about our progress, and how you can get involved.
Prof Andrew MillieCo-Investigator, Edge Hill University
I have been researching aspects of policing for a number of years with special focus on the function of the police, how the police can reassure the public, the role of police volunteers and the visibility of the police - including semiotic meanings attached to police stations within communities. In 2012 I completed a research project on the police estate that was published in the British Journal of Criminology. At that time I was surprised how little research there had been on police stations. Academics had considered the architecture of prisons and the design of court rooms, but seemed to have overlooked the police estate, despite visibility being such an important element of contemporary policing. This project is an opportunity to explore this further, alongside consideration of the broader material culture of the police and police visibility online. The project draws on visual criminology, an area of study that takes serious the communicative properties of visual information. In my own research I have explored the scope for an aesthetic criminology that involves all the senses and our emotional and affective responses. The visual is clearly an important part of this. My interest in the aesthetic comes from my broader research interests at the intersection between criminology, philosophy and theology. I’m the author of the book “Philosophical Criminology” (2016) and I’m currently editing a volume that brings criminologists and theologians together to consider challenges to criminal justice orthodoxy. I’m really excited to be part of this important project and believe it will give us valuable new perspectives on our interactions with the police.
Dr Matt JonesCo-Investigator, The Open University
My work up until now has focused on manifestations of police culture and how the police engage with different communities. An emerging trend in the projects that I have worked on, is how visual elements of professional and personal communication and settings shape the experiences and conduct of the police. For example, in my work on lesbian and gay police officers, my participants talk about how the LGBT rainbow flag - now commonly displayed in police stations and represented on police uniforms through badges, lapels and laces - have disrupted the dominant iconography often associated to dominant policing cultures. Some of my work has also noted the expansion of the policing ‘field’ to include more digital and online platforms. This is reflected in the recent literature on the police use of social media, however this has tended to overlook aspects of the visual. Despite this I have observed a broad spectrum of social media posts by the police that include visual elements - e.g. showcasing the diverse work/experiences of officers; appealing for witnesses; showcasing prosecution successes; calls for recruitment. This is why I wanted this project to explore the use of visual tools on social media - so that we can greater understand their effectiveness and impact. I’m also quite a creative person, so a project that incorporates the visual aspects of policing really excites me. I’m really looking forward to being part of the project and contributing our data to contemporary criminological debates
Liam RalphResearch Fellow, Northumbria University
I joined the project as a PDRA in March 2019. My role in the project is to work with Mike, Andrew, and Matt in planning and conducting data collection as well as disseminating our research findings. I have a background in conducting police research on social media, technology, community policing, public confidence, and police legitimacy. For me, a really important part of this project I was drawn to is how police visibility is constructed and understood across physical and digital spaces. We have the opportunity to explore this, by considering police buildings, material culture, and social media. Crucially the methods we use as part of this project means we will be able to capture how people make sense of policing in more visible ways, including image and video. In doing this, our project will contribute to an understanding of what visual features as well as technological and digital developments means for policing in the 21st century. I am delighted to work with a great team of researchers on this project.