The Leicester Hate Crime project, for example, was started by Chakraborti in 2012 and remains to be the most prolific study of hate crime victimisation ever conducted, anywhere in the world. During the two-year project, commissioned by the Economic Social Research Council, the school reached out to a diverse range of victims who'd never taken part in research studies before or spoken about their experiences of everyday hate and hostility.
“It was a remarkable study,” explains Chakraborti. “Not just in terms of its innovation - the methodologies that we undertook in order to shine a light on their stories - but also what we did with those findings had ripple effects in terms of transforming local policy within the city and council but also nationally. It led to changes within the college of policing guidance and the Law Commission has used our work to guide its reforms to hate crime legislation. So in terms of a single piece of research, that's probably the most significant work that we've undertaken so far.
“Being at the forefront of debates and shaping those conversations, whether it’s within the academic community or within the policy world, that's a significant achievement. I think there's more to do, but we're very proud of the work we've done in that context.”
For Dr Chris Allen, Associate Professor at Leicester’s School of Criminology, one of the biggest achievements has been his participation in the establishment of the working definition of Islamophobia by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. It was the result of research that Allen has been involved in since the mid-2000s but was officially launched and published until 2018. The impact has been huge, he says, with the majority of political parties accepting the definition, as well as many local authorities and the higher education sector.
The school continues to conduct research with a real-world impact. For example, Allen is currently working on a project in the Birmingham, Black Country and West Midlands region which is looking at what people at a grassroots level, in local communities, understand by the term extremism. The findings, he claims, will challenge the idea of how we conceive extremism at the policy and political level, and he hopes to present the study to the Commission on Counter Terrorism, as well as the Home Office.
Students who join the school, therefore, are being taught by experts that are at the coal face of cutting edge research.