Strain theory, resilience, and far-right extremism: the impact of gender, life experiences and the internet

There has been a notable increase in support for far-right ideologies across the West. The seriousness of this threat has been acknowledged by the UK government which has banned certain far-right groups using terrorism legislation. While criminological theories have been useful in explaining general criminality, they have been under-utilised in explaining extremism and terrorism. Agnew’s General Strain Theory, which hypothesises that negative life events increase the chance of a turn to criminality, is explored in this article alongside Control Theory. Based on a survey (N 1,138) conducted on Facebook in late 2019, we explore how strain and resilience based on participants’ gender, economic situations, life events and their use of the internet impacts individuals’ far-right extremist attitudes and behaviours. We use regression analysis to investigate the impact that strain and resilience, individuals’ gender, economic situations, individual life experiences, and their use of the internet have on their propensity to associate, engage, and support far-right ideologies and linked violence. While strain is not found to be significant, resilience, gender and the use of the internet are.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Joshua Skoczylis, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

Sam Andrews, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences


The Burglary Cognitive Distortions Scale: its association with burglary proclivity and other key variables

Cognitive distortions play a key role in offending but have not been researched in relation to burglary. Using the literature on offence-related cognition as a guide (which is primarily focused on sexual offending), the present two studies aimed to develop and validate the Burglary Cognitive Distortions Scale (BCDS). Drawing upon the burglary literature, an initial pool of 36-items was produced. Two online studies using community-based participants were then conducted. Each study involved administering the BCDS, along with measures of burglary proclivity, general criminal beliefs, empathy, and human needs. In Study 1 (N1= 306), an exploratory factor analysis of the BCDS produced two factors: (1) Acquisitive Entitlement, and (2) Survive by any Means. In Study 2 (N2 = 266), confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the two-factor structure and helped refine the item pool. In each study, the 24-item CFA version of the BCDS was found to be associated with general criminal beliefs and burglary proclivity. Factor 1 of the BCDS, as well as general criminal beliefs, independently predicted proclivity scores. Future research should now aim to validate the BCDS using a sample of people who have committed burglary, as it holds promise for use in forensic settings and research.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Matthew King-Parker, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Ross Bartels, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Tochukwu Onwuegbusi, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Adrian Parke, University of the West of Scotland, School of Education and Social Sciences


Prevent, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus: Analysing Terrorism Prevention Policies Using Althusser’s Framework

The work of Louis Althusser is well regarded in the study of ideology, having been used to analyse the material basis for ideology, and challenging the idea that ideology is simply a product of the mind. Recent advances in counterterrorism have seen many states adopting preventative programmes which are non-violent, and nominally voluntary, attempting to deradicalise or steer subjects away from radical ideologies, in an attempt to stem terrorist recruits. Many of these programmes claim not to be ideological. Prevent, which is the UK’s preventative counterterrorism programme, claims not to be ideological, but rather only concerned with stopping extremist ideologies. Using Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus (ISA) framework, this article explores the ideological and material basis of Prevent, arguing that while Prevent assures us of its non-ideological nature, at its core is a programme that is part of the reproductive ideological apparatus of the state.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Sam Andrews, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

Joshua Skoczylis, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

Intergroup lethal gang attacks in wild crested macaques, Macaca nigra

Lethal gang attacks, in which multiple aggressors attack a single victim, are among the most widespread forms of violence between human groups. Gang attacks are also frequent in some other social mammals, such as chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, wolves, Canis lupus, spotted hyaenas, Crocuta crocuta, and meerkats, Suricata suricatta. So far, species in which gang attacks have been observed share one or more of these socioecological features: territoriality, fission–fusion, cooperative breeding or coalitionary bonds. However, the scarcity of data in other taxa makes it challenging to determine whether one/all of these socioecological features is necessary and sufficient to drive the evolution of gang attacks. Here we describe the first reports of intergroup gang attacks in the crested macaque, using data on three groups collected over 13 years, with the joint observation times for the three groups summing to 37 years. Crested macaque gangs attacked outgroup conspecifics when aggressors were numerically superior to victims. Adult females were the most frequent age/sex category to attack outgroup conspecifics. The victims were mostly adult females and infants. We propose that coalitionary bonds, hostility towards outgroup individuals and the ability to estimate numerical odds may suffice to trigger intergroup gang attacks when the conditions favour an imbalance of power between victims and attackers.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Laura Martínez-Íñigo, University of Lincoln, School of Life Sciences and Guinean Representation, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, 

Antje Engelhardt,  Liverpool John Moores University, School of Biological and Environmental Science

Muhammad Agil, Bogor Agricultural University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Malgorzata Pilot, University of Lincoln, School of Life Sciences and Polish Academy of Sciences, Museum and Institute of Zoology

Bonaventura Majolo, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology


Having options alters the attractiveness of familiar versus novel faces: Sex differences and similarities

Although online dating allows us to access a wider pool of romantic partners, choice could induce an ‘assessment mindset’, orienting us toward ‘optimal’ or alternative partners and undermining our willingness to commit or remain committed to someone. Contextual changes in judgements of facial attractiveness can shed light on this issue. We directly test this proposal by activating a context where participants imagine choosing between items in picture slideshows (dates or equally attractive desserts), observing its effects on attraction to i) faces on second viewing and ii) novel versus familiar identities. Single women, relative to single men, were less attracted to the same face on second viewing (Experiments 2 and 4), with this sex difference only observed after imagining not ‘matching’ with any romantic dates in our slideshow (i.e., low choice, Experiment 4). No equivalent sex differences were observed in the absence of experimental choice slideshows (Experiment 3), and these effects (Experiment 2) were not moderated by slideshow content (romantic dates or desserts) or choice set size (five versus fifteen items). Following slideshows, novel faces were more attractive than familiar faces (Experiment 1), with this effect stronger in men than in women (Experiment 2), and stronger across both sexes after imagining ‘matching’ with desired romantic dates (i.e., high choice, Experiment 4). Our findings suggest that familiarity does not necessarily ‘breed liking’ when we have the autonomy to choose, revealing lower-order socio-cognitive mechanisms that could underpin online interactions, such as when browsing profiles and deciding how to allocate effort to different users.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Jordan R Sculley, Abertay University, School of Applied Sciences

Kay Ritchie, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology


Polydrug use and drug market intersections within powerlifting cultures in remote South-West England

With the rising use of Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs), research has increasingly pointed to a need for in-depth understanding of users’ consumption behaviours, in order to form effective harm reduction policy. With polydrug use prevalent in IPED-using cultures, both among ‘hardcore’ and non-competitive trainers, it is clear there is a need to understand this use, and its socio-cultural contexts, as well as how drug access and supply occurs within these cultures.

This paper offers an exploration of the motivations and contexts of hardcore powerlifters’ polydrug use, as well as their experiences of IPED and other illicit drug market intersections, through findings drawn from 18 qualitative interviews with participants involved in these lifting cultures and gyms in South-West England, supported by ethnographic fieldwork conducted in nine gyms in the region over a four year period, including five ‘hardcore’ powerlifting and bodybuilding gyms, as well as four commercial gym establishments.

Results first demonstrate how cultural narratives around what is drug ‘use’ versus ‘abuse’ influenced powerlifters’ consumption and perceptions of polydrugs, with a number of illicit drugs and other medicines used by these sportsmen, despite cultural opposition to other drug consumption considered to be harmful, and associated by powerlifters with ‘gym rats’, or YOLO type trainers. This leads into exploration of where powerlifters’ polydrug consumption behaviours present the greatest risk, particularly in relation to the acceptance of benzodiazepine use as a form of ‘steroid accessory drug’ for long periods, as well as the common sharing and use of opioid painkillers to allow continued training through injury, and discussion of where harm reduction policy might therefore be most appropriately targeted for this population.

Findings then turn to an exploration of how polydrug supply occurs within powerlifting culture and gyms, and the intersections between IPED markets and other illicit drug markets perceived to exist in the region. This documents the prevalence of social supply norms of polydrugs following patterns observed for IPEDs in the existing literature, before discussing the extent to which individuals with links to criminal organisations may be ‘pushing out’ culturally-embedded IPED suppliers in the region, and the impacts this is having on risk for IPED buyers. This is followed by further discussion of relevance to policy, and avenues for future research into polydrug use and supply from a harm reduction perspective, as well as the limitations of this study as specific to a remote region of the UK.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Luke Turnock, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

Substance misuse and community supervision: A systematic review of the literature

Dr Coral Sirdifield, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research, School of Health and Social Care

A narrative systematic review was undertaken of the literature concerning the health of people on probation or parole (community supervision). In this paper, we provide an up-to-date summary of what is known about substance misuse in this context. This includes estimates of the prevalence and complexity of substance misuse in those under community supervision, and studies of the effectiveness of approaches to treating substance misuse and engaging and retaining this population in treatment. A total of 5125 papers were identified in the initial electronic searches, and after careful double-blind review only 31 papers related to this topic met our criteria. In addition, a further 15 background papers were identified which are reported. We conclude that internationally there is a high prevalence and complexity of substance misuse amongst people under community supervision. Despite clear benefits to individuals and the wider society through improved health, and reduced re-offending; it is still difficult to identify the most effective ways of improving health outcomes for this group in relation to substance misuse from the research literature. Further research and investment is needed to support evidence-based commissioning by providing a detailed and up-to-date profile of needs and the most effective ways of addressing them, and sufficient funds to ensure that appropriate treatment is available and its impact can be continually measured. Without this, it will be impossible to truly establish effective referral and treatment pathways providing continuity of care for individuals as they progress through, and exit, the criminal justice pathway.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Coral Sirdifield, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Charlie Brooker, University of London, Centre for Sociology and Criminology

Rebecca Marples, University of Suffolk, School of Law and Social Sciences


Sam Andrews, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, SChool of Social and Political Sciences

While international revolutionary groups have frequently attracted international support, the declaration of the caliphate by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 and the subsequent growth of foreign fighters leaving their home countries to fight in Syria created a significant concern for Western governments. The United Kingdom was a major source of this foreign fighter flow, becoming a significant concern in 2014 and by 2015 accounting for some 700-760 fighters with the majority affiliated to the Islamic State and with a growing amount of females joining the group. While Prevent, the preventative pillar of the United Kingdom’s counter-terrorism strategy, was in 2014 already well accustomed to intervening in cases of male radicalization, it was not well prepared to handle female radicalization. This article provides a case study of the UK police response to the above concerns. In 2014 the Metropolitan Police and Counter-Terrorism Policing HQ began work on the Prevent Tragedies campaign, a strategic communications campaign. The campaign sought to encourage women, primarily mothers, to talk with younger women and discourage them from travelling to Syria. It also sought to make these women aware of the government’s Prevent policy, and to encourage them to submit reports to Prevent should be they concerned about the radicalization of persons close to them. Using documents obtained by Freedom of Information requests, and material gathered from the Prevent Tragedies website, this article explores how the idea of the “mother” as a nurturing and caring subject was utilized to try and counter female radicalization. It analyses how stereotypical ideas about pacific femininity and female political naivety were utilized to further the narrative of “groomed” women who were unaware of the brutal nature of Islamic state, and therefore could not have ideologically supported the organization when they travelled to Syria. While this undermines ideological support for Islamic State, it simultaneously draws on – and exposes – a current in U.K. counter-terrorism that underplays female radicalism, hampering our full understanding of gendered radicalization.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Sam Andrews, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

The Hong Kong Criminal Justice Series

Dr Andra Le Roux-Kemp, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, Lincoln Law School

The Hong Kong Criminal Justice Series, authored by Dr. Andra le Roux-Kemp with publisher Wolters Kluwer (Hong Kong), consists of three volumes: Hong Kong Criminal Procedure (2019), Hong Kong Law of Evidence (2019), and Hong Kong Criminal Law (forthcoming 2021/22). The aim of this Criminal Justice Series is to provide a single, comprehensive source on the laws of Hong Kong, for as far as these relate to Criminal Procedure, the Law of Evidence, and Criminal Law. The first two volumes appeared in print in 2019, and are now recognised as an indispensable source for students, law practitioners, as well as legal scholars with an interest in Hong Kong Criminal Justice. Exemplary features of the series include the legal-historical and comparative analysis of the development of Hong Kong law vis-a-vis the laws of England and Wales and other Commonwealth jurisdictions, as well as the numerous cross-references across the three volumes which unswore the practical and theoretical interplay between the three subject areas.

Chapters Four and Five of the volume Hong Kong Criminal Procedure (2019) is particularly valuable for readers interested in learning more about police powers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, while Chapters 11, 12 and 14 of the second volume in the series – Hong Kong Law of Evidence (December 2019) – provide a thorough-going analysis and discussion on, inter alia, electronic evidence, forensic evidence and the evaluation of evidence generally.