Constructive and Enabling Ethics in Criminological Research

Lessons from UK Research Ethics Committees
  • Vasileios KaragiannopoulosEmail author
  • Jane Winstone
Living reference work entry


This chapter examines how research in the multidisciplinary subject area of criminology gives rise to ethical considerations specific to the sensitive topics and vulnerable participants associated with the endeavors of researchers. The lessons learned arise from working in a UK university ethics committee but reflect international ethics principles and practices and are therefore relevant to an international audience. Reviewing criminological research projects calls for a skill set that includes an awareness of the problematic ethical nature of researching victims, perpetrators, and professionals in the statutory, charity, and voluntary sectors. The discussion explores some core ethical concerns and the ways in which the identified risks can be addressed by the committee, so as to provide constructive and enabling responses, the aim being to support the researcher to implement a range of solutions to ethical dilemmas. Through this process, the challenges of seemingly ethically unacceptable research topics can be overcome and produce relevant data. In doing this, a range of aspects are addressed, including the protection of the researcher as well as the researched, working with security sensitive materials, reputational threats to organizations and the role of the researcher-practitioner. Also considered in some detail is how to manage anticipated as well as unexpected disclosures of harm, limits to confidentiality, and the ethical conduct of the researcher.


Ethics committees Criminology Perpetrators Victims Security-sensitive Vulnerable participants Gatekeeper Confidentiality limits Reputational threats 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Criminal Justice StudiesUniversity of PortsmouthPortsmouthUK

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