Rob is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology. He has 15 years experience of research and lecturing in the areas of substance misuse, youth crime, violent crime, gangs, criminal justice policy and criminological theory.
First class BSc (hons) degree in Sociology from the University of Salford in 1997. He later studied at postgraduate level at the University of Manchester before obtaining his PhD from the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2005.
Rob teaches in the areas of criminological theory, youth and crime, substance use and violent crime. He has a particular expertise and knowledge in the fields of drug use (both problematic and recreational) and gangs and related violent crime, i.e. gun and knife crime and drugs. He currently supervises both postgraduate and undergraduate students in research on alcohol, drugs, gangs, violent crime and youth justice policy.
He has a particular focus on youth and violence, teaching on units such as Crime and Violence, Contemporary Issues in Deviant Youth Lifestyles, Troubles of Youth, Youth Justice and Juvenile Delinquency and Managing Offenders in the Community. Rob an advocate of research led teaching and has recently developed a third year undergraduate unit: Contemporary Issues in ‘Deviant’ Youth Lifestyles’ that combines his research interests in focusing on substance (mis)use, gangs and related drug dealing, gun and knife crime. He is currently developing a year two unit that focuses on substance misuse and responses.
Rob teaches in the areas of criminological theory, youth and crime, substance use and violent crime. He has a particular expertise and knowledge in the fields of drug use (both problematic and recreational) and gangs and related violent crime, i.e. gun and knife crime and drugs.
He has a particular focus on youth and violence, teaching on units such as Crime and Violence, Contemporary Issues in Deviant Youth Lifestyles, Troubles of Youth, Youth Justice and Juvenile Delinquency and Managing Offenders in the Community.
He currently supervises both postgraduate and undergraduate students in research on alcohol, drugs, gangs, violent crime and youth justic policy.
Rob is particularly interested in two broad areas of research: drug use, gangs and (violent) youth crime.
Some of Rob’s recent research includes being the lead researcher on an ethnographic study of youth gangs, the £255,000 ESRC funded project Youth Gangs in an English City: Social Exclusion, Drugs and Violence. Articles from the research have been published in Children and Society(http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1099-0860/homepage/youth_gangs_in_british_cities__research_informs_the_policy_response.htm), Research Ethics Review, the Journal of Youth Studies, and in a number of edited collections. A book based on this research 'Youth Gangs in an English City' is due for publication by Routledge in 2012. Other major research projects have included the £233,000 ESRC funded project Governing Drug Related Crime in the Risk Society (Jan 2007-June2009). Publications based on this research have been published in the British Journal of Criminology and Drugscope with the related book: 'Tough Choices: Drug policy and the risk-security nexus' in press and due for publication with Oxford University Press in early 2012. He has also been the lead researcher for the following research projects: exploring parents of ‘gang’ members support needs; ‘8 ‘til late’ mentoring evaluation; a local authority funded research project into the 'extent and nature of violent gangs'; training ex-offenders in research methods and the UK Drug Policy Committee funded, ‘Barriers to Employment for (Ex)-Problematic Drug Users’.
Rob is also a member of the Eurogang Network of gang researchers and subsequently disseminates his research across Europe and beyond with recent conference presentations of his work taking place in America, Australia, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Rob has developed an international reputation for his gang expertise and research and is currently exploring the possibility of cross-national research in this area with fellow gang researchers.
T. Seddon, L. Williams, R. Ralphs (2012). Tough Choices. OUP Oxford.
M. Salinas, W. Floodgate, R. Ralphs (2019). Polydrug use and polydrug markets amongst image and performance enhancing drug users: Implications for harm reduction interventions and drug policy. Int J Drug Policy. 67, pp.43-51.
A. Fraser, R. Ralphs, H. Smithson (2018). European Youth Gang Policy in Comparative Context. Children and Society. 32(2), pp.156-165.
R. Ralphs, PM. Gray (2017). New psychoactive substances: new service provider challenges. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy. 25(4), pp.301-312.
PM. Gray, R. Ralphs (2017). Confidentiality and cultural competence? The realities of engaging young British Pakistanis and Bangladeshis into substance use services. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy. 26(2), pp.133-139.
L. Williams, R. Ralphs, PM. Gray (2016). The Normalisation of Cannabis Use Among Bangladeshi and Pakistani Youth: A New Frontier for the Normalisation Thesis?. Substance Use and Misuse. 52(4), pp.413-421.
H. Smithson, R. Ralphs (2016). Youth in the UK: 99 problems but the gang ain ' t one?. Safer Communities. 15(1), pp.11-23.
R. Ralphs, L. Williams, R. Askew, A. Norton Adding Spice to the Porridge: The development of a synthetic cannabinoid market in an English prison. The International Journal of Drug Policy. 40, pp.57-69.
H. Smithson, R. Ralphs, P. Williams (2013). Used and abused the problematic usage of gang terminology in the united kingdom and its implications for ethnic minority youth. British Journal of Criminology. 53(1), pp.113-128.
J. Medina, R. Ralphs, J. Aldridge (2012). Hidden Behind the Gunfire: Young Women's Experiences of Gang-Related Violence. Violence Against Women. 18(6), pp.653-661.
T. Seddon, R. Ralphs, L. Williams Risk, Security and The 'Criminalization' of British Drug Policy. British Journal of Criminology. 48(6), pp.818-834.
J. Medina, R. Ralphs, J. Aldridge (2012). Mentoring Siblings of Gang Members: A Template for Reaching Families of Gang Members?. Children & Society. 26(1), pp.14-24.
J. Aldridge, J. Shute, R. Ralphs, J. Medina (2011). Blame the Parents? Challenges for Parent-Focused Programmes for Families of Gang-Involved Young People. Children & Society. 25(5), pp.371-381.
J. Aldridge, J. Medina, R. Ralphs (2010). The problem of proliferation: guidelines for improving the security of qualitative data in a digital age. Research ethics review. 6(1), pp.3-9.
R. Ralphs, J. Medina, J. Aldridge (2009). Who needs enemies with friends like these? The importance of place for young people living in known gang areas. Journal of Youth Studies. 12(5),
R. Ralphs, T. Seddon, L. Williams (2008). Missing link.
J. Aldridge, J. Medina, R. Ralphs (2008). Gang research in the UK: is it too dangerous?. Social Science Teacher. 38(1), pp.12-16.
G. Pollock, VA. Antcliff (2002). Work Orders: Analysing Employment Histories Using Sequence Data. International Journal of Social Research Methodology Theory and Practice. 5(2), pp.91-105.
HL. Smithson, R. Ralphs (2015). European Responses to Gangs. S. Decker, DC. Pyrooz. In: The Handbook of Gangs. Wiley, pp.538-558.
J. Aldridge, R. Ralphs, J. Medina Collateral damage: territory and policing in an English gang city.
J. Aldridge, J. Medina, R. Ralphs Dangers and problems of doing 'gang' research in the UK.
J. Aldridge, J. Medina-Ariz, R. Ralphs (2012). Counting Gangs: Conceptual and Validity Problems with the Eurogang Definition. In: Youth Gangs in International Perspective. Springer New York, pp.35-51.
R. Ralphs, PM. Gray, A. Norton (2017). New Psychoactive Substance Use in Manchester: Prevalence, Nature, Challenges and Responses. Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester City Council.
J. Spencer, J. Deakin, T. Seddon, R. Ralphs Getting problem drug users (back) into employment: part two.
Rob is regularly asked to be an expert consultant and his consultancy work has included Gang, gun and knife related Consultancy for Hackney Borough Council, Manchester City Council, the North West Development Agency the Scottish Government and other local authorities, concerned about violent offending, drug use and emerging gangs.
Rob's involvement in gang related work extends beyond his academic life and he is a Trustee of the charity Mothers Against Violence who work to reduce gang membership and related violent crime. He was also a founder member and secretary of GMPs Trafford division Gun and Gang Independent Advisory Group and is involved in the Inter Community Defence Council which provides conflict mediation around gang related disputes and supports many other local community initiatives and individuals that work to tackle youth crime, substance use, and violent crime. He has recently helped to set a 'recovery in the community' arm of Mothers Against Violence (MAV) which now works with problem drug users at various stages of recovery, vulnerable young sex workers in the city centre. Together with fellow MAV members and partenr agencies such as the Angelus Foundation and North Base, he is working on developing a harm reduction and education package around legal highs.
His research into gangs has resulted in inputs into policy developments and think-tanks at local, national and international level.
His knowledge and experience of gangs means that he is also regularly in demand for media interviews and comment on developing gang policy, violent incidents (e.g. the 2011 English riots and the 2011 coalition's gang strategy). Rob contributes to local, national and international media discussions on gangs. His views have been sought by crime documentary teams (e.g. Discovery) SKY news, ITV, the BBC, the Guardian, The Independent and news agencies in Denmark, Germany and Australia where he has conducted various TV, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews.