Centre funds innovative early career research projects addressing urgent social problems

Research exploring social media-facilitated trafficking of children, undercover drugs policing, child-to-parent violence, domestic abuse, and reporting public sexual harassment were among the Fund’s successful projects.

24 April 2023

The ESRC Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre is delighted to announce five awards from its inaugural Early Career Researcher (ECR) Development Fund.

The fund aims to build research capacity and capability to tackle current and emerging challenges related to vulnerability and policing. It enables ECRs to lead co-produced pioneering projects that contribute new findings and insights to these areas.

The inaugural open-call fund had a thematic steer of children and young people and received a highly competitive field of applications.

The 12-month projects will commence in May 2023 with successful applicants receiving support from the Centre to maximise the reach and impact of the research.

Funded projects

  • Social Media Facilitated Trafficking of Children and Young People – Dr Laura Pajon (Liverpool John Moores University)
  • Who matters? A collaborative co-investigation of who needs to be included, according to families with children with explosive and controlling impulses – Dr Nikki Rutter (Durham University)
  • Reducing Barriers to Reporting Public Sexual Harassment to the Police: Towards Procedural Justice for Racially Minoritised Vulnerable Young Women and Girls – Dr Nadia Jessop (University of York)
  • Test Purchasing in Undercover Drugs Policing: Reconfiguring Strategic and Operational Practice as part of the Vulnerability Agenda – Dr Leah Moyle (University of Plymouth)
  • Domestic Abuse Service Providers and their Stories – Dr Rebecca Shaw (University of Leeds)

Professor Charlie Lloyd (University of York), Co-Director of the ESRC Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre, said: “We are delighted to fund these research projects that cover such important areas of work. Our Centre aims to understand how vulnerability develops in different areas and how organisations can work together to tackle problems stemming from vulnerability such as exploitation by county lines drug networks, online child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, modern slavery, mental illness and homelessness. The projects we have funded reflect these aims and will be key in advancing our work.”

“We received a wide range of applications that formed an incredibly strong field. Such was the quality, we agreed to fund more projects than we had initially intended to in the Fund’s first year”, said Professor Adam Crawford (Universities of York and Leeds), Co-Director of the ESRC Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre.

“As a Centre, we are committed to early career development and capacity building and we will support the award holders throughout their projects to build their skill set for this work and beyond. We are excited to see how the projects from this first cohort of researchers develop and look forward to opening the second funding call later this year.”

The award panel – comprising external representatives of the academic and practitioner communities as well as members of the Centre’s leadership team – was impressed with the depth of quality and rigour in the 18 shortlisted applications. Panel members expressed a strong view that all the projects funded have great potential for impact and scalability and look forward to seeing the findings and outcomes that the research will generate.



Photo by Daniel Frese via Pexels.