Ethnicity and justice in Scotland: overview of research 2023 to 2024

A supporting paper produced for the Cross Justice Working Group on Race Data and Evidence.

Planned ethnicity research

This section outlines planned and current ethnicity research from Cross Justice Working Group organisations.  Research is listed alphabetically by organisation.

Police Scotland told us about the following four research projects:

  • ''Help-seeking for female genital mutilation and gender based violence''
  • “Roles, perspectives, goals and limitations of participants in addressing female genital mutilation in Scotland” Increase understanding of female genital mutilation/cutting in Scotland and how to improve the situation
  • ''The policing of Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities in the UK'' - this is to understand the roles and relationships from a policing perspective. A questionnaire that 27 forces UK wide are taking part in, in Winter 2023
  • “Black and Minority Ethnic Probationers journey through Police Scotland” This project is currently under development

The Scottish Government, Equality Analysis Team is planning to produce a publication exploring existing intersectional evidence on the experiences of minority ethnic women in Scotland/the UK in early 2024.

Scottish Government, Justice Analytical Services provided a grant to academics based at SCCJR, University of Glasgow for the following research project:

  • “Diversifying Justice: Revealing domestic abuse realities and viable help-seeking pathways for South Asian women”. It uses an arts-based, participatory research approach to explore Scottish South Asian women’s perceptions and experiences of justice and domestic abuse: including how they are shaped by socio-cultural factors; the ways in which they seek help; and any barriers to justice they face. Fieldwork is complete and the report is being finalised and due to be published in 2024

The Scottish Prison Service “Prison Survey 2024” represents a self-reported snapshot census which offers a unique opportunity for those in custody to express their point of view on matters of importance to them. The Survey is distributed to all 17 establishments within Scotland to all those who are in custodial care on the day of fieldwork. The questionnaire is translated into key foreign languages and interpreters are also provided as necessary. Fieldwork will be undertaken in Spring 2024. A separate thematic bulletin is produced drawn from data relating to ethnic minorities and foreign nationals held in Scottish prisons.

Ethnicity research planned by others

As with section 1 b) above, this section outlines known planned and current research from outwith the working group, and does not claim to be comprehensive. Research is listed alphabetically by organisation.

Edinburgh Napier University – current PhD research:

  • “Encountering Policing: a qualitative exploration of Scottish Pakistanis' experience of policing”. This research explores Scottish Pakistanis' experiences of policing in everyday life. This includes policing; by institutions through racialised policies and discriminatory use of police procedures; by members of the public through islamophobia and race related hate crimes; and by Scottish-Pakistanis themselves through self-surveillance and cultural ‘community’ policing. Insights will be gained into ways police can engage with and recruit minority groups in a constructive social contract. It also seeks to challenge commonplace conceptions of Scottish and Scottish-Pakistani community identity as cohesive characteristics - assumptions which may hinder inclusive policing.  PhD thesis due to be submitted May 2025

Hemat Gryffe Women’s Aid have planned the following research project:

  • “Honour-based abuse in Scotland” - will consider the protection provided to victims of gender-based abuse through the law and policing. The project will illuminate and evaluate the effect this has on women who are impacted by the intersecting factors of gender, ethnicity, family networks, linguistic, financial, educational, immigration and other barriers in the face of honour based abuse

Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (Edinburgh Napier University and University of Glasgow) are conducting the following research:

  • “No Problem (In) Here? Scoping the Experiences of Catholics in Scottish prisons” Building on current work examining the operation of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish discrimination in Scotland, this project examines these concerns within the criminal justice system: looking at Scottish prisons, where Catholics are over-represented. This project would take a first step in understanding the experience of Catholics within Scottish prisons

University of Edinburgh - School of Social and Political Science (Social Work) - Current PhD:

  • “How and why hate crime occurs: exploring the accounts of those convicted of hate crime in Scotland”. Qualitative research consisting of interview individuals convicted of hate crime who are currently serving a community order or custodial sentence for an index offence with one of the five current aggravators (race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and disability)

University of Glasgow, School of social and political sciences-  Postgraduate research:

  • “Experiences of and resistance to state racism in Scotland” using a case study approach to examine how state racism is experienced and how communities do resistance

Planned research where ethnicity might be included

Some organisations told us about planned research projects where ethnicity was not central to the research project, but might be included. This includes projects where the research is not fully scoped out, as well as research where the ethnicity of participants will be collected and recorded as part of a wider sample, but numbers are not large enough to allow for analysis by ethnicity. Research is listed alphabetically by organisation.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland told us about their plans for “Pre-inspection surveys of prisoners” A pre-inspection questionnaire is carried out in each prison prior to inspection. This survey provides a chance for those in prison to tell about life and conditions in the prison and any issues they have. Issues raised will be looked at during the upcoming inspection. Surveys are currently ongoing, however, a number of years of data is likely to be required before any analysis by ethnicity is possible. Published inspection reports available.

Risk Management Authority told us about the following project:

  • “Selecting Approaches for Effectively Responding to Risk (SAFERR)” SAFERR will be a service/provision for practitioners and policy-makers that they can access for an evaluation of the effectiveness of different risk management methods. They already have a provision called RATED (Risk Assessment Tools Evaluation Directory) which provides a similar function, with a focus on risk tools. The directory will evaluate what works nationally and internationally in terms of risk management, based on a literature review. Each entry on a risk management approach will include information on use with protected characteristics. The intention is to launch the free directory in 2024 with completed entries and add new entries as they are completed

Scottish Legal Aid Board told us about their “Equality Outcomes Plan for 2023-2026”. SLAB gathers and uses equality data to inform their policies and improve their services. They also gather and use equality data to advise Ministers as part of their advice on legal aid reform and work to monitor availability and accessibility of legal services. Ethnicity data included as a protected characteristic for applicants for & users of legal aid. Utilising their administrative data they will analyse trends in the supply of legal aid by relevant protected characteristics. They will also analyse standard operational performance data by protected characteristics. Work is still in the planning stage, and will be undertaken during 2023/24, to be published as part of their Equality Outcomes Plan.

University of Edinburgh, School of Law told us about their “Understanding Inequalities” project - Exploring a number of different areas in relation to crime, justice and inequality using both administrative and survey data. Papers are currently in progress.

This includes:



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