Prior to PhD research I completed a MSc and BSc (Hons) in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Ulster University.
My current research project explores factors affecting the individual, social and structural environments which influence young people’s participation in illegal drug markets in Northern Ireland. Recent research estimates tens of thousands of young people are involved in illegal drug distribution across the United Kingdom. These young people are at risk of exploitation, victimisation, serious violence and problematic drug use. In Northern Ireland, the research on young people’s involvement in low-level illegal drug distribution is limited. Drug distribution presents a significant problem in NI due to paramilitary control and involvement combined with the post-conflict, transitional nature of NI, yet limited research exists. In this context, the study aims to provide comprehensive and original insight into young people’s participation in low-level drug markets and the impact of paramilitarism on this important issue. The study will apply a risk environment framework to understand environmental influences shaping young people’s involvement in low level drug markets. This project will also consider the effectiveness of contemporary intervention strategies, in addition to how policy and practice can be improved to meet the needs of these young people. The research uses a three-staged qualitative methodology: interviews with practitioners; observations of practitioners; and semi-structured interviews with young people previously or currently involved in low level drug distribution. Access to participants is supported by a unique collaboration with a Belfast based youth centre.