Abertay is Scotland's leading post-1992 university for psychology research and law research (RAE 2008). Academics in the Dundee Business School and the School of Social & Health Sciences are working across a variety of research areas in the field of law and society, including a number of projects with the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR).
Abertay houses many experts across the University who are directly or indirectly engaged with research relating to the promotion of criminal justice. Together they form the Investigation, Security, Policing & Intelligence (I-SPI) Research Group; a multi-disciplinary team of applied researchers, including psychologists, sociologists, forensic scientists, computer scientists and lawyers. The pan-University group was established two years ago, and is led by Dr. Fiona Gabbert. It currently has 26 UAD staff members and two external members. The aim of the group is to raise the profile of policing and criminal justice research both internally and externally and to facilitate new research being conducted. Group members have achieved exciting advancements and impacts in the field of criminal justice research, including ground-breaking forensic techniques to detect fingerprints on fabrics, and innovative ways to obtain reliable evidence from victims and witnesses of crimes, amongst other projects.
Members of the group are currently collaborating on projects with representatives from our local police force (Tayside Police), as well as with other forces in the UK and abroad who are committed to the evidence-based development of policing and criminal justice. Many of these projects are funded by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR). Strong links with UK and European police forces, as well as SIPR, and the Scottish Police Service Authority (SPSA), provide the group with a platform to promote research outputs.
Research is ongoing in the Law Division, Dundee Business School, into issues surrounding criminal law and criminal justice. A particular interest is in the policing and prosecution of financial crimes from a Scottish, UK and European perspective. We are also interested in supervising research students adopting either a doctrinal or socio-legal approach, whose proposals fall within these areas.
Dr Michelle Weldon-Johns from Dundee Business School is looking at the development of work-family rights in the UK, analysing the rights available and how they have developed, and how the UK compares with elsewhere in the EU and the USA. The research also considers how UK society is changing and whether or not legislation reflects these changes. The role of the working father, and their rights and protections from both a work-family and a discrimination perspective, are also a current theme of this research.
Dr. Maria O’Neill from the Dundee Business School is researching the evolving EU Home Affairs provisions, which deal with cross border law enforcement and counter-terrorism. This work focuses, inter alia, on the work of Europol, Eurojust and the EJN-Crime. Recent publications are on general EU cross-border policing provisions, and on counter-terrorism, to include a book entitled “The Evolving EU Counter-Terrorism Legal Framework”, Routledge, 2012.
Current research is focusing on, from the perspective of EU law, the transnational crime of trafficking in human beings. EU law in these areas, and its implementation in the EU member states, is of interest, as is the current focus of the EU on its external relations in this area, as set out in the Stockholm Programme. Dr. O’Neill welcomes applications from prospective PhD students in any of these areas.
Work is ongoing in the Dundee Business School into EU agricultural law, and how it interacts with WTO law. There is constant pressure on the European Commission to change the way the EU interacts with the rest of the world in the area of agriculture, particularly in the context of the Doha Development Round, the current trade-negotiation round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which aims to lower trade barriers around the world and improve market access for developing countries agricultural products. Research at Abertay is focused on the interaction of WTO law with EU law, in the context of agriculture, and its impact on the EU's trading relationship with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The findings will help these countries shape future strategic policies planning.
Research within the Law Division of Dundee Business School also has a focus on the preservation of fundamental rights during war time and the legal provision of defences for those who breach fundamental rights on behalf of the State, primarily the right not to be tortured. A comparative study of certain defences at domestic and international level is in progress.
On a more domestic level, other work relates to the applicability of Convention rights in difficult situations, such as aspects of the right to a fair trial in alcohol-relating driving offences and the compliance of counter-terrorism measures with the right to liberty.
‘Public sociology’ focuses on major public concerns and policy issues. Our research group aims to bring together social scientists in the broadest sense, who share a commitment to address the changing nature of diverse publics, political and academic discourses and state policy, through public engagement and policy influence in the twenty first century. Our interests cover varied fields of social inquiry - including public policy, politics, environment, crime, education, health, the city, youth, racism and anti-racism, anti-social behaviour, welfare, institutions, and media - at various scales of analysis - from the local, regional, national, through to the global level.
Psychologist Dr David La Rooy has a focus on forensic interviews with children and guidelines for forensic interviewers. He has recently produced the revised edited volume of “Children’s Testimony” for use by professionals involved in child protection. Dr La Rooy is involved in training initiatives with police and social work in Scotland and England, serves as an expert in criminal and civil proceeding involving allegations of child abuse, and provides input into the Judicial Studies Training Committee regarding witness assessment.
Dr Fiona Gabbert is based in the Psychology Division at Abertay University. Her work draws upon, and contributes to, theoretical and empirical research in social and cognitive psychology domains to understand and significantly improve the reliability of eyewitness testimony. One of Dr Gabbert’s biggest contributions to the field of applied memory research is the development of the ‘Self-Administered Interview’ (SAI). The SAI is a protocol of instructions and questions, based upon cognitive theories of remembering, that support eyewitnesses when recollecting and recording their memories of an incident. This novel recall tool is proven to elicit high quality evidence from multiple eyewitnesses quickly and efficiently with minimal police resources. It is currently being trialled by police forces in the UK and abroad. Another of Dr Gabbert’s interests is investigating social influences on memory. Her research shows that people’s memories become similar to one another’s following a discussion, and examines the factors moderating this. Forensic implications are that witness statements that appear corroborative may actually be ‘contaminated’, and hence unreliable.
Dr Jim Moir is researching media influence, chiefly how the media affects how we see ourselves and wider society. This research impacts a range of issues including reality TV, children in the media, and children as consumers. It also considers the role of the media in communicating climate change, and how people can be contradictory in terms of their behaviour towards the environment, often because of social pressures.
Other researchers are also looking at how politics is portrayed in the media including new technologies, such as the ability to watch political speeches in real time on BBC iPlayer, and how the public respond and interact.
Dr Stuart Waiton is looking at the wider cultural and political factors that influence relationships in society and particularly at the issue of fear and safety at an individual, community and political level. Part of this research involves exploring the changing nature of the political elite and equally the changing relationship between this elite and the public - one increasingly framed around the protection of the 'vulnerable public'. Another strand of this work attempts to explore not what ‘the youth' are doing and thinking, but rather the changing nature of adults and adult-child relationships and the growing anxiety involved in them.
The rising significance of the victim of crime is also a key area of research, with restorative justice and hate crime being examined within this framework.
Finally, recent research has been and is being carried out with regard to the policing of football fans and the confusing concept of tolerance that is leading to an increased criminalisation of words.
Dr Les Ball is researching the internet and its relationship to terrorism and counter-terrorism. Terrorists are using the internet not only to promote their interests but also to communicate in networks. OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) is a form of information that is of growing importance to intelligence services and law enforcement agencies. OSINT is deposited in the form of text, visuals and other multi-media. Our research is centred on the ability of machine learning techniques to collect, analyse and interpret this mass of data contained at specialist web forums and other social media such as Twitter and the blogosphere. Projects include retrospective analysis of the 9/11 terrorist cell, testing the "mood" of a population on political issues, and analysing roles and trajectories inherent to the radicalisation process from website interactions and postings. Future challenges lie in the ability to detect trustworthiness, sarcasm and irony in text.
The rapid progression of technology is influencing the way we live and work. From smart phones to airport security scanners, our lifestyle is shaped by technology and the way we interact with it. As the uptake of technology has rocketed and devices have become highly interconnected, criminals have used it to their advantage and many organised gangs are now able to use sophisticated computer technology as a source of income and assist them in conducting criminal activities. Many users are unaware of how they can be exploited by cyber criminals and businesses are unprepared for the potential damage. These cyber-criminals can operate with a degree of anonymity, using technology to commit crimes in different continents, with different laws that help them evade capture and prosecution.
Organisations need to consider security from the outset of their business strategies and plans. Similarly, technology needs to be designed with secure features embedded in their requirements, rather than considered as an after-thought. At Abertay we pursue a number of research interests in the general area of Computer Security, from digital forensics to biometrics to intelligence analysis and hacking and counter-attack; including web application hacking, malware, mobile phone security, and cloud security.
The University Cybersecurity team is strong and has significant depth. Dr Natalie Coull and Mr Colin McLean are experienced ethical hackers, Dr Allan MacLeod is an established penetration tester, Dr Ian Ferguson leads our work on Digital Forensics and has appeared in court many times as an expert witness. Dr Geoff Lund leads the work on Mobile Phone and Cloud Security. The work on Biometrics and Human Identification is significantly advanced with both Mr Andy Sapeluk and Dr Les Ball publishing and holding a number of patents in the field.