A University of Oxford researcher whose work on mothers facing prison has changed how judges, magistrates and probation officers hand down sentences has won a prestigious Celebrating Impact Prize. Dr Shona Minson, based at Oxford’s Centre for Criminology within the Faculty of Law, was awarded the ERSC Celebrating Impact Prize for Outstanding Early Career Impact yesterday (Tuesday, July 9).
The Impact Prize, now in its seventh year, recognises and rewards ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved impact through outstanding research, knowledge exchange activities, collaborative partnerships and engagement with different communities.
Each winner was awarded a prize of £10,000 to be spent on furthering knowledge exchange, public engagement, or other communications activities to promote the economic and social impact of their research.
Dr Minson’s research on how the sentencing of mothers affects children has changed practice for judges, magistrates and Probation Officers, who now consider how children will be affected by their parents’ sentence.
It led to changes in guidance from the National Probation Service on Pre-Sentence Reports. The March 2019 guidance states for the first time that probation officers must request an adjournment for a full Pre-Sentence Report in cases where the defendant has child dependants, to assess the impact on them and to ensure that plans are in place so children are cared for during imprisonment.
Dr Minson said: 'I’m absolutely honoured to receive this award and have extreme appreciation to the ESRC for funding my PHD and the Impact Acceleration Award that funded this work.
'I want to centre children in my thanks as I have done in my research. It began because of the absolute lack of concern for children whose parents are sent to prison.
'I couldn’t have done any of the research if some very brave and courageous children hadn’t been willing to talk to me about their experiences because that has been what really has made an impact.'
Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair said: 'All our finalists have demonstrated the impact of their work and illustrated its relevance and importance to society. They are already contributing to policy debates in their specialist areas and hopefully their influence will continue for many years to come.'
The ESRC encourages and supports social scientists to maximise the impact of their work to ensure that independent, high-quality research informs decisions across a wide range of policy areas, and helps make a difference to people’s lives in the UK and around the world. For example, by enhancing economic competitiveness of the UK; improving public services; raising standards of living and health; contributing to the development of UK policy; driving innovation or improving management practices of businesses; helping a particular group in society; or helping societies in other countries.