Personal profile

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3656


Research Interests

Within the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL), I am based in the Centre for Spoken Interaction in Legal Contexts (SILC). In SILC we apply discourse analysis to examine various areas of the legal system (e.g. police interviews, courtroom interaction). We are currently interested in transcription processes in legal systems, why they are created and how the audio record of the spoken investigative interview is altered when written records are produced, and later relied on in court.

My personal research interests centre on improving access to justice for 'vulnerable' victims and witnesses of crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault and rape. Broadly, my research interests are examining how, and contributing ot the developemnt of policy and guidance materials are used by people in training and in practice. I use conversation analysis to analyse the ways in which we say something can occasion variations of social action.

- Initial reporting of domestic abuse (IRDA) during Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting UK lockdown, saw a media reported increase in reports of domestic abuse to the police and, in greater volume, to domestic abuse charities. In collaboration with Professor Stokoe (Loughborough University), I am undertaking a conversation analytic study to understand how these initial reports made to police services during lockdown might differ from those prior to. This work is designed to deal with underreporting and help promote the police services as a route for victims and witnesses of domestic abuse to report incidents of this nature.

Communicating and recording crime in action: a linguistic analysis

In this project, Dr Sarah AtkinsDr Felicity Deamer, Joanna Traynor (Anglia Ruskin University) and I are seeking to understand the issues with the reporting and categorisation of ‘crime in action’ (kidnap and extortion ongoing, in real time). As part of her PhD, Jo has identified a reluctance by call handlers to categorise reports as a ‘crime in action’ due to the immediate and serious response this categorization occasions. In this project, we use a combination of linguistics methods to examine how the language used in emergency calls is transformed by call handlers into a written incident log, which despatch colleagues then either confirm, upgrade or downgrade categorizations. We are particularly interested in analysing patterns that result in miscommunication or miscategorisation of ‘crime in action’ incidents, with the potential to then contribute to research-based training. 

- Police Interviewing Vulnerable Adults (PIVA) of sexual assault and rape

I am working with video data of investigative interviews, where adult and child witnesses are reporting sexual assault and rape. I am examining how police officers and the witness co-produce evidence through question and answer sequences. I am particularly interested in the adherence to the Achieving Best Evidence guidance. I’ve also begun to work with some data where officers are role-playing interviews as part of specialist investigative interview training with a view to examining how this looks in comparison to the real thing. 

 You can hear more about me, my background and my research on the Society Matters podcast.


2020 – 2021    PG Cert in Learning & Teaching in Higher, Aston University 

2010 - 2013    PhD Social Psychology, Loughborough University 

2008 - 2009    MRes Social Research, Loughborough University 

2005 - 2008    BA Hons Sociology, Sheffield Hallam University 

Membership of Professional Bodies

Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (HEA)

British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)

International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG)

International Pragmatics Association (IPrA)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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