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Criminology lecturer awarded UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship

23 Jun 2022

Dr Marion Vannier has been recognised as one of the most promising science and research leaders in the country by being awarded a coveted Future Leaders Fellowship by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Dr Marion Vannier

Criminology lecturer Dr Marion Vannier is one of the recipients who will benefit from £97.8 million to tackle major issues in the UK, Science Minister George Freeman has announced.

Dr Vannier will lead a four-year project which will research the meaning and value of hope in the case of people who are the least likely to be released from prison during their lifetimes - namely elderly prisoners serving life sentences.

At a crucial moment when life sentences are rising and prison populations are ageing, her project In Search of Hope will examine how hope is used by those in the criminal justice system - and the role it plays in shaping prison practice - to benefit both detainees and wider society.

Under European Human Rights law, hope was introduced in 2013 as a tool for evaluating the acceptability of life imprisonment - as long as there are legal release mechanisms and a real prospect of release, prisoners are deemed to have hope and life imprisonment is acceptable.

Dr Vannier's work raises the critical issue of whether prisons can be something other than a place of punishment.

“I am delighted to receive this fellowship, which gives me the support and resources I need to realise my vision of driving forward a criminological human rights field of research,” said Dr Vannier.

“In Search of Hope harnesses UK research to challenge assumptions about life imprisonment, and to promote humane penal practices and treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with the freedom and generous long-term support to progress adventurous new ideas, and to move across disciplinary boundaries and between academia and industry.

“The fellows announced provide shining examples of the talented researchers and innovators across every discipline attracted to pursue their ideas in universities and businesses throughout the UK, with the potential to deliver transformative research that can be felt across society and the economy.”