HEMS 2: Exploring women veterans’ experiences in the UK prison system

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

Supervisors: Dr Lauren Godier-McBard, Dr Hilary Engward, and Prof Matt Fossey

Interview date: 22 March 2022

The purpose of this PhD is to explore the lived experience of women veterans within the UK prison system.

The national need for this research is gaining traction because women veterans are projected to increase to 30% by 2028, and historically, research and service design in the veteran field generally has mostly focused on the needs male veterans resulting in male-focused policy and support provision.

The successful candidate will specifically address a knowledge gap about women veterans in the CJS system, as recognised in the Ministry of Justice report 'The National Female Offender Strategy' (2018), which states that: “Female offenders can be amongst the most vulnerable of all, in both the prevalence and complexity of their needs” and outlines a need to better reflect the needs of female offenders and their distinct needs. However, the report does not specifically address what the needs of such female veterans may be.

To date, the ARU Veterans and Families Institute (VFI) has been world leading in identifying and responding to this knowledge and practice gap. Our ‘We Also Served’ report (Godier-McBard, Gillin and Fossey, 2021) led to the formation of the Serving and ex-Serving Women’s Health Improvement Group (SESWHIG), which has informed the national priority for NHS England (NHSE) and NHS Improvement (NHSI) ‘The Impact on Serving and ex-Serving Women Who Come into Contact with the Criminal Justice System’ and falls into the top six priorities outlined by NHSE and NHSI.

The candidate will therefore be in a unique position to contribute to evidenced, informed policy changes in the prison system as a direct result of the findings of this project. Furthermore, as the first study of its kind in the UK, this doctoral project will make a unique contribution to the knowledge base in the UK and internationally.

The research will use qualitative methodology, including semi-structured interviews focussing on pathways into the CJS, barriers to disclosure of veteran status, and the support needs of women veterans in prison. The student undertaking this research will be situated within the VFI, supervised by a team experienced in research with women veterans and veterans in the CJS.

The successful applicant will be supervised by a team led by Dr Lauren Godier-McBard, who currently leads the VFI’s Women and Equalities workstream and is nationally recognised as the leading expert in research with women veterans in the UK.

If you would like to discuss this research project prior to application please contact hilary.engward@aru.ac.uk

Apply online by 27 February 2022.

Funding notes

This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. For 2022/3 this will be £15,609 per year. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship terms and conditions. Please note that the University asserts the right to claim any intellectual property generated by research it funds.

Download the full terms and conditions.