Research team land award for work into domestic abuse

Monday 04 December 2023

A team of RGU academics have won an award for the impact of their research investigating the policing of gender-based violence in rural and island Scotland during the Covid-19 crisis.

Professor Sarah Pedersen, Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth, and Leia Miller won the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) Impact Award for their study into the way the pandemic affected partnerships between police and third sector gender-based violence service providers in remote parts of the country.

During the pandemic, the challenges faced by domestic abuse victims were heightened as a result of lockdowns, which led to abusers spending more time at home. Working from home, concerns about money, homeschooling children and rising levels of alcohol consumption added to these tensions. 

The research team carried out a series of interviews with members of voluntary groups and police officers of different ranks. Their findings led to recommendations including the need for more female police officers in rural areas, given victim survivors’ clear preference for speaking to women, the use of digital and telephone communication, and for more specialist training for officers in less populated areas. The project was funded by SIPR, who facilitated the RGU team’s interactions with Police Scotland.

The production of a film and report about the findings was used to highlight the research to a wide range of groups, including MSPs, councillors representing northern wards in Scotland, police officers from both Scotland and further afield, members of the Criminal Justice Committee at the Scottish Parliament, and representatives of third-sector organisations, including Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis and AMIS (Abused Men in Scotland).

Professor Pedersen, Dean of RGU’s Graduate School, said: “We are delighted to have won this award, which recognises the work we have done to disseminate our findings and recommendations to key stakeholders. We are particularly pleased to have received a number of invitations to speak at Scottish government events and the use that is being made of our film by third-sector organisations.”

The Impact Award was presented at the annual conference of SIPR in Edinburgh on 29 November. The research carried out by Professor Pedersen and her colleagues ties in with RGU’s strategic aim of research and knowledge, particularly on the collaboration with public, private and third sector organisations through knowledge exchange to develop partnerships that create societal benefit.

In March 2023, RGU launched a new research strategy to help research flourish and with the aim of creating a sustainable, inclusive, and interdisciplinary research environment that brings together a community of academic and professional services, staff and doctoral students, to work collaboratively within and across the University’s academic schools.

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