Nicola Harding

Profile and research interests 

Nicola is a multi-disciplinary researcher working in criminology and human geography, based in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She specialises in the study of desistance, female offenders, offender supervision, and qualitative research methods. Her PhD includes Participatory Action Research with female ex-offenders in the North West of England. In partnership with these women, she co-produced research focusing upon their everyday experiences of punishment in the community using a variety of creative research methods. She is editor of the British Society of Criminology Postgraduate Blog, and co-produces a research network for creative research methods in criminology (@Creative_Crim).  

Recent relevant publications/presentations  

Charlene Crossley

Profile and research interests

Charlene has a record of research within the Criminal Justice sector looking particularly at domestic abuse programmes, gangs and youth violence. She started her PhD in 2013 in Criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and specialises in youth transitions and the aspirations of young people living in gang labelled communities. From her PhD Charlene has developed a particular expertise in participatory action research engaging young people at all stages of her project including geographical mapping and creative writing. Charlene has varied experience in the field of Criminal Justice and research working at MMU, Greater Manchester Probation Trust (GMPT) and through training as a Prison law solicitor and volunteering as a Magistrate. Charlene has specialist research interests in youth transitions, aspirations, youth gangs and qualitative research methods. She also teaches on the Sociology / Criminology Programme at MMU in areas around youth justice, youth gangs and Criminological theory. Charlene is the co-producer of a research network for creative methods in Criminology (@Creative_Crim)

Recent relevant publications/presentations  

  • Crossley, C & Harding, N (2016) ‘The Problem with Participatory Action Research’ (Blog post) Manchester Centre for Youth Studies (MCYS) Blog [online] Available at 

Selected conference papers

  • Here.Me.Now: The goals and aspirations of young people living in communities labelled as gang affected
  • April 2016: Manchester University - Immobile youth conference 
  • April 2016 : Manchester Metropolitan University - British sociological association youth study group
  • May 2016: Cardiff University - Innovative research methods with children and young people (Won first prize for best presentation)
  • June 2016: Liverpool Hope University:  Children and young people in a changing world
  • July 2016: British Society of Criminology: 'Inequalities in a diverse world'
  • February 2017: Manchester Metropolitan University 'Changing lives'
  • April 2017: ‘Are we lost?’ Participatory action research, creative methods and map making with ‘deviant’ groups
  • 3 minute thesis: University of Tessside: Precarious lives, precarious places

Poster Presentations

  • May 2016: Cardiff University - Innovative research methods with children and young people
  • July 2016: Brtisih Society of Criminology: 'Inequalities in a diverse world'

Seminar delivering my research to academics, students and practitioners

  • May 2017: Salford University

Anna Norton

Profile and research interests

Research interests centre on all aspects of substance use, in particular the developing field of new psychoactive substances and other emerging drug trends, prisons and the politics of punishments and deviant youth lifestyles. I have studied both my BA (Hons) and MA degree at Manchester Metropolitan University and I am based in the department of sociology currently teaching as an associate lecturer on core crime theory and qualitative methods units. 

I have worked as a research assistant on various projects including a research study commissioned by Manchester City Council investigating the prevalence of new psychoactive substance use in Manchester amongst the homeless population. As an extension of previous research, my cross-disciplinary PhD will focus on the impact NPS use has on vulnerable young people in relation to their mental health and involvement in crime and disorder.


  • Norton, A. (2017) ‘Spicing up the subject’ The recorded experiences of prisoners and prison staff on the subject: New psychoactive substance use in a North West Prison.  The Howard League. Online at:
  • Ralphs, R., Williams, Askew, R., and Norton, A. (2017) Adding spice to the porridge: The development of a synthetic cannabinoid market in an English prison. International Journal of Drug Policy; 40: 53–65

Anna-Christina Jones

Profile and research interests 

Anna-Christina is an interdisciplinary researcher currently working in the area of criminology and youth justice. Anna-Christina has a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Investigative and Forensic Psychology from the University of Liverpool. She is currently completing a PhD in Youth Justice at MMU.

Anna-Christina’s PhD draws on theories of desistance from crime; specifically those that focus on identity, transitions in adolescence, social capital and social recognition to propose a new theoretical paradigm of youth justice practice shaped by the use of participatory action research.

In addition to completing her PhD, Anna-Christina also leads the Greater Manchester Youth Justice University Partnership (GMYJUP) Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, an initiative that facilitates the bi-directional transfer of ideas and initiatives between academia and practice and champions the collaborative development of effective practice within the Greater Manchester YJS. This pioneering project focusses on enhancing evidence-based, assessment-led early intervention for those receiving out of court disposals, as well utilising Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to champion young people’s voices and explore their direct experiences and journeys towards desistance from crime.

Anna-Christina’s previous research interests include false memories and the cognitive interview, a technique used by the police for interviewing witnesses. She has also worked as a cognitive psychologist in the area of consumer research and behaviour change in industry, where she managed an academic collaboration established to enhance understanding of sensorial and perceptual experiences. She has experience with a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and holds an MSc recognised by the ESRC as research methods training.

Recent publications and conference presentations  

  • “Knowledge Transfer and Youth Justice: Developing and embedding youth justice research in practiceBritish Society of Criminology Conference, July 2016
  • Greater Manchester Youth Justice University Partnership (GMYJUP): The Role Of The Knowledge Transfer Partnership” Youth Justice Convention, November 2016
  • “Giving young people a voice in youth justice” Youth Justice Convention, November 2016
  • Participatory Youth Practice- reforming youth justice in Greater Manchester through innovative knowledge exchangeBritish Society of Criminology Conference, July 2017
Our Team