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Roxanna Dehaghani

Dr Roxanna Dehaghani

Reader in Law

School of Law and Politics

Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a socio-legal researcher who focuses on understanding and improving the vulnerable position of the accused, particularly pre-trial. I work at the intersections of criminal justice, human rights, and legal psychology, and am particularly interested in how criminal justice policy and practice can both advance the position of the accused and exacerbate the vulnerable position of the accused. A large body of my work has focused on the vulnerable suspect in police custody, and the safeguards, rights and entitlements engaged at the first (and often only) stage of the criminal process.

My first book analysed the operationalisation of the appropriate adult safeguard for vulnerable suspects and, relatedly, the conceptualisation of vulnerability and risk in police custody. This book – along with a series of articles on vulnerable suspects and the appropriate adult safeguard – underpinned significant changes to policy and practice and resulted in an Impact Case Study for REF2021.

My second book – and related articles – analysed the barriers to the realisation of fair trial rights resulting from problems in criminal justice policy and practice in Wales and England, and was the first book to examine the challenges faced by the accused and criminal justice practitioners in Wales.

My research has attracted funding over the years from the British Academy, the EHRC, the ERC, the ESRC, and HEFCW. My current research projects include: conceptualising the ‘appropriateness’ of the appropriate adult safeguard; conceptualising the regulation of police custody (as part of a larger project on regulating criminal justice detention); and examining the operation of safeguards for neurodiverse suspects. I am also working with the National Appropriate Adult Network to create training videos for police officers and healthcare professionals working in police custody to improve their understanding of vulnerability and the need for an appropriate adult for vulnerable suspects.

I sit on the editorial board of two international journals the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice and the Journal of Adult Protection, in addition to the Research Advisory Groups for projects on young suspects in police custody (Nuffield) and healthcare equivalence in police custody (ESRC). I am Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Vulnerability Research Network and founder and co-chair of the Vulnerable Accused subnetwork. As part of this work, I am committed to connecting academia with policy, practice, and lived experience, as well as mentoring new and emerging scholars in the field of the ‘Vulnerable Accused’. I am passionate about bringing rigorous academic research into dialogue with policy, practice, and lived experience, and supporting colleagues to do the same, and I was recently appointed School Director of Impact and Engagement.











Adrannau llyfrau








My research focuses on the development and recognition of the vulnerable accused as a new area of inquiry. Specifically, my research examines the innate and structural vulnerability of the accused, particularly pre-trial, and the ways in which policy and practice create and can respond to this vulnerability.

First, my research examines the operation of safeguards for vulnerable suspects in police custody and analyses, drawing in particular from legal psychology and human rights, how these can be improved. Second, my research analyses how criminal justice policies, practices, and decisions can create, exacerbate, and ameliorate the vulnerable position of the accused, particularly during pre-trial processes. Third, my research asks how police custody can be better regulated to meet the needs the often vulnerable and marginalised people who encounter these spaces as suspects.

My research focuses predominantly on England and Wales drawing insights from various disciplines including legal psychology, and has been deemed ‘foundational’ in advocating for improvements to the treatment of vulnerable suspects across other jurisdictions. It has also resulted in significant improvements to policy and practice in England and Wales, with numerous ongoing projects seeking to make an even greater impact to improve protections for vulnerable suspects.

My current projects include:

  • Conceptualising the appropriateness of the appropriate adult for vulnerable suspects
  • Analysing the suitability of pre-trial safeguards, rights and entitlements for neurodiverse suspects
  • Conceptualising the regulation of criminal justice detention, specifically in police custody

I have led on numerous initiatives to establish a community of scholars in the area of the Vulnerable Accused, including the Vulnerability Research Network, the Vulnerable Accused subnetwork and work-in-progress sessions, and an edited collection on the vulnerable accused (forthcoming with Routledge). These initiatives have enabled networking and community-building opportunities across academia, policy, practice, and lived experience, as well as enabling various forms of mentoring of new and emerging scholars by more established scholars.

I have a wealth of experience working with public and third-sector organisations with the aim of improving safeguards for vulnerable suspects, and to this end have collaborated with the National Appropriate Adult Network, the Independent Custody Visiting Association, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, and the Crown Prosecution Service. I am currently working with the National Appropriate Adult Network, creating training videos on vulnerability and the appropriate adult safeguard for police officers and healthcare workers in police custody, and on work seeking to conceptualise the 'appropriateness' of the appropriate adult to inform national standards. I recently trained Independent Custody Visitors on how to improve the uptake of the appropriate adult safeguard.



  • 2014-18 - Ph.D. in Law - Leicester Law School, University of Leicester
  • 2011-12 - L.L.M., Forensics, Criminology & Administration of Justice, cum laude - Faculty of Law, Maastricht University
  • 2007-10 - L.L.B. (Hons.), Law, Second Class, First Division - School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast

Honours and awards

  • Economic and Social Research Council, ESRC 1+3 Collaborative Studentship with the National Appropriate Adult Network (Supervising Chloe Macdonald) - £93410 (2022-26)
  • European Research Council – RECEDE: Regulating Criminal Justice Detention – 1.4 million euro (2022-25), with Tomczak, P. [PI]
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales – Improving the uptake of the appropriate adult safeguard – £5708 (2021-23)
  • National Independent Safeguarding Board, Wales – Thematic Review of Adult Practice Reviews – £24,991 (2020-21) with Rees, A. [PI], Swann, R. and Slater, T.
  • Economic and Social Research Council - Impact Acceleration Account – Training Custody Visitors on the Appropriate Adult Safeguard – £4000 (2019-21)
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission – Conditions of Detention in Wales – £1500 (2019) with Jones, R.D. and Series, L.
  • British Academy – Small Research Grant – Suspect and Defendant Experiences of the Criminal Process – £8543 (2018-20) with Newman, D.
  • National Independent Safeguarding Board, Wales – Thematic Review of Child Practice Reviews – £26,280 (2018-19) with Rees, A. [PI], Swann, R., Slater, T. and Robinson, A.L.
  • National Independent Safeguarding Board, Wales – Review of Domestic Homicide Reviews and Adult Practice Reviews – £19,647 (2018) with Robinson, A.L. [PI], Rees, A.
  • Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, Emory University, Atlanta – Visiting Scholarship (Accommodation) (2018)
  • University of Leicester - Graduate Teaching Assistantship (Fully funded PhD) – (£57,204) (2014-18)
  • Postgraduate Bursaries – British Society of Criminology 2016; 10th North-South Irish Criminology Conference 2016; Socio-Legal Studies Association 2016
  • Postgraduate Development Fund – College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, University of Leicester, 2016 (£500); College of Arts, Humanities and Law, University of Leicester, 2016 (£500)
  • Top 3% Scholarship – Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, 2012 (Full tuition fee for L.L.M.)

Professional memberships

  • Governor, Member of the Corporation Board, and Member of the Resources Committee - Coleg y Cymoedd (07/2022-)
  • External Examiner - York Law School (10/2021-)
  • Editorial Board Member - Journal of Adult Protection (09/2021-)
  • Editorial Board Member - Howard Journal of Crime and Justice (05/2021-)
  • Founder and Organiser - The Vulnerable Accused (05/2020-)
  • Global Affiliate - Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative (06/2018-)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2017-)
  • Co-Chair and Founder - Vulnerability Research Network, British Society of Criminology (12/2019-)
  • Co-Convenor - Wales Branch, British Society of Criminology (02/2019-09/2021)
  • Board Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association (04/2018-04/2021)
  • Publisher Liaison - SLSA (05/2019-04/2021)
  • Seminar Committee Member - SLSA (05/2019-04/2021)
  • Ethics Working Group Member and Chair - SLSA (05/2019-04/2021)
  • National Appropriate Adult Network – Academic Lead on National Standards (05/2017-03/2018)
  • Home Office Working Group on Vulnerable Adults (11/2016-11/2017)
  • British Society of Criminology Postgraduate Committee – Events Manager (07/2016-07/2017)
  • Member of Criminal Justice Research Centre (Nottingham)
  • Member of the British Society of Criminology
  • Member of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control
  • Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association
  • Member of the Early Career Academic Network – Howard League for Penal Reform

Academic positions

  • 2017-20 - Lecturer in Law - Cardiff University
  • 2019 - Visiting Scholar - KU-Leuven
  • 2018 - Visiting Scholar - Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, Emory University
  • 2016-17 - Lecturer in Law - University of Leicester
  • 2014-16 - Graduate Teaching Assistant - University of Leicester
  • 2016 - Visiting Scholar - Queen's University Belfast
  • 2015-16 - Teaching Associate - University of Birmingham

Committees and reviewing

  • Research Advisory Group: Healthcare Equivalence in Police Custody (2021-) (funded by the ESRC) (PI: Dr Geth Rees); The Impact of PACE on Young Suspects (funded by Nuffield Foundation) (2020-) (PI: Dr Vicky Kemp); Young Suspects and Policing (funded by Policing Authority Ireland) (2019-21) (PI: Prof Ursula Kilkelly, UCC).
  • Article reviewer: International Journal of Law in Context; Journal of Law and Society; Legal Studies; Modern Law Review; Oñati Socio-Legal Series; Oxford Journal of Legal Studies; Crime, Law and Social Change; Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health; Criminology and Criminal Justice; European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research; Healthcare Analysis; Howard Journal of Crime and Justice; International Journal of Human Rights; Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law; Journal of Adult Protection; Policing & Society; Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice; Salus: An international journal of law enforcement and public safety.
  • Textbook reviewer: Oxford University Press.
  • Monograph reviewer: Palgrave Macmillan; Policy Press; Routledge.
  • Grant reviewer: Independent Social Research Foundation; Economic and Social Research Council.
  • Seminar grants reviewer: SLSA.


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Mental health, disability, and vulnerability in criminal process
  • (Barriers to) the accused's participation in the criminal process
  • Vulnerability theory
  • Suspect/defendant rights and procedural safeguards, such as, but not limited to, the right to legal advice and representation and the right to silence
  • Austerity, neoliberalism, managerialism, securitisation and risk in the criminal process

Current supervision

Chloe MacDonald

Chloe MacDonald

Research student

Research themes


  • Crime and social justice
  • Crime policy
  • Criminal procedure
  • People with disability
  • Access to justice