Research Fellow, University of York

Geoff is a full-time research fellow working on three projects focused on: policing; understanding change in long-term opioid users; and developing drug and alcohol through care and aftercare for ex-prisoners.

The first of these projects centers on the Policing Research Partnership (PRP). This is an innovative multi-strand programme of work that seeks to promote evidence-based policing through mechanisms that bolster research co-production between eight Northern research intensive universities and eleven police forces. York is responsible for the Monitoring and Evaluation activity strand of the PRP. Using a realist approach, initial work has involved interviewing academics and police partners from all involved organisations to understand the evolution of the PRP and its co-production mechanisms over its first eighteen months.

The second project, Understanding Change in Long-Term Opioid Users, is a prospective longitudinal cohort study of 30 people accessing drug treatment in York. All participants have been prescribed methadone or buprenorphine continuously for five years, without at any time being disengaged from treatment services. By carrying out in-depth qualitative initial and six month follow-up interviews, we intend to get a better picture of the lives and trajectories of this group. The importance of this is emphasized by changes to national policy. In recent years services have increasingly focused on ‘recovery’ outcomes and medication abstinence in a context of increasing austerity. This provides a strong rationale for identifying how policy changes affect people with multiple complex needs, many of whom were promised a ‘script for life’ by previous prescribing regimes.

The third strand of work involves conducting research and gathering evidence for Ex-Prisoners Recovering from Addiction (EPRA), a working group convened by Charlie Lloyd, and chaired by Lord Patel of Bradford. The working group brings together high-level expertise from academic, practitioner, and service user backgrounds. Drawing on emerging findings from the National Evaluation of Drug Recovery Wings, the working group will develop evidence-based blueprints for effective through-care programmes: one for women (ex-) prisoners; and one for men.

The development of both Understanding Change in Long-Term Opiod Users and EPRA was informed by emerging findings from the National Evaluation of Pilot Drug Recovery Wings (DRWs). This was a Department of Health funded rapid assessment, process and impact evaluation of ten innovative services that were intended to engage prisoners in ambitious abstinence-based services, and to provide enhanced support during and after release. Geoff's role was primarily qualitative, conducting and analyzing approximately 210 in-depth qualitative interviews with prisoners and staff in eight DRWs, and with some ex-prisoners’ family members. He also collated and analysed approximately 1,200 Measuring the Quality of Life survey responses from across the ten prisons.

Each of these projects builds on prior clinical and research experience, particularly with marginalized drug using offenders: Geoff's PhD was an ethnographic study of the care and control of women and seriously mentally ill offenders by the Drug Interventions Programme; and this, in turn, was informed by earlier experiences as an addictions counsellor working with a criminal justice caseload.

Experience

  • –present
    Research Fellow, University of York