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Dr Roxanna Dehaghani

Dr Roxanna Dehaghani

Senior Lecturer

School of Law and Politics

Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


Roxanna joined Cardiff in 2017 as a Lecturer after spending time at the Universities of Leicester (2014-17) and Birmingham (2015-16). Prior to entering academia, She worked at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Citizen’s Advice. Roxanna has been a Visiting Scholar at Queen's University Belfast (2016), Emory University, Atlanta, GA (2018), and KU-Leuven (2019).

Roxanna is principally interested in inequality in the criminal justice process. Her two main areas of focus are vulnerable suspects and defendants - on which she has published widely - and criminal justice in Wales. She has published a book on vulnerablity in police custody and is currently writing a book on criminal justice in Wales (funded by the British Academy). Roxanna also has an interest in adult and child safeguarding and has worked with colleagues in Social Sciences on this topic (funded by the National Independent Safeguarding Board Wales via Welsh Government).

Roxanna's work has generated impact beyond academia: she was a member of the Home Office Working Group on Vulnerable Adults, compiled the Evidence Base for the National Appropriate Adult Network’s (NAAN) review of National Standards, was the only academic involved in the 'Appropriate Adult Briefing' for the Independent Custody Visiting Association, is co-author on 'There to Help 3' on the identification of vulnerability in police custody, and her work is being used to train practitioners (Independent Office for Police Conduct investigators and case workers, appropriate adults, and Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs)). She was awarded ESRC Impact Accelerator funding to train ICVs on the use of the appropriate adult safeguard.

Roxanna supports the academic community through her roles in the Socio-Legal Studies Association (Board Member, Publisher Liaison, Seminar Committee Member, and Ethics Working Group Member) and the British Society of Criminology (Co-convenor of the Wales branch and Co-Chair of the Vulnerability Research Network (the latter which she established with Chris Bath (NAAN) and Dr Harriet Pierpoint (USW))). In 2020, Roxanna also established a Work in Progress group on 'Vulnerable Suspects and Defendants', the membership for which is both national and international.

She is currently an Academic Fellow at the Crime and Security Research Institute, and a Member of the Wales Governance Centre, the Centre for Health and Social Care Law, the Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (of which she is also Deputy Director), and the Centre for Human Rights and Public Law (all at Cardiff University). Upon invitation, Roxanna recently became an Associate Member of the Criminal Justice Research Centre at the University of Nottingham.

In 2020/21, Roxanna will be module co-leader of Criminal Law. She was previously module co-leader of Crime, Law and Society (2018/19 and 2019/20). Roxanna is also School Research Ethics Officer.

Roxanna can be found on twitter on @roxanna_law

Roxanna and Dan's BA funded project can be found @CardiffCriminal



  • 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

  • European Research Council - RECEDE: Regulating Criminal Justice Detention (CO-I) with Tomczak (PI) - (€1.3 million) (2020-)
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission – ‘Conditions of Detention in Wales’ (£1500 with R.D. Jones and L. Series) (2019/20)
  • ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (£4000 for training event for ICV Scheme Managers/ICVs on the appropriate adult safeguard (2019/20))
  • Thematic Review of CPRs - National Independent Safeguarding Board Wales (CO-I with Rees (PI), Swann, Slater, and Robinson (CO-I)) (£26,000)
  • Cardiff University Research Opportunities Placement (CUROP) – funding for project ‘The experiences of the suspect and defendant in the criminal process’ (£2100 awarded to fund undergraduate research assistance with Dr Dan Newman (PI))
  • British Academy Small Research Grant – ‘Suspect and Defendant Experiences of the Criminal Process’ (£8543 awarded; PI, with Dr Dan Newman (CO-I))
  • Thematic Review of DHRs and APRs - National Independent Safeguarding Board Wales (CO-I with Prof Amanda Robinson (PI) and Dr Alyson Rees (CO-I)) (£20,000)
  • REF-Research Impact Development Fund – University of Leicester (£3623.60, awarded but declined)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship (Fully funded PhD) – University of Leicester (£57,204)
  • 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

  • Founder and Organiser - Work in Progress - Vulnerable Suspects and Defendants (05/2020-)
  • Co-convenor - Wales Branch, British Society of Criminology (02/2019-)
  • Co-Chair and Founder - Vulnerability Research Network, British Society of Criminology (12/2019-)
  • Board Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association (04/2018-)
  • Publisher Liaison - SLSA (05/2019-)
  • Seminar Committee Member - SLSA (05/2019-)
  • Ethics Working Group Member - SLSA (05/2019-)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2017-)
  • National Appropriate Adult Network – Academic lead on National Standards (05/2017-03/2018); Research dissemination co-ordinator (05/2017-09/2019)
  • Resources co-co-ordinator - The Advocate's Gateway (05/2018-09/2019)
  • 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

Speaking engagements

  • ‘Conceptualising vulnerability’ – Faculty of Law, Maastricht University (Maastricht, 2021 (forthcoming))
  • ‘Vulnerability and criminal justice practitioners’ – Workshop on Vulnerability and the Organisation of Academic Labour (Nottingham, 2019)
  • ‘Vulnerability in police custody: police decision-making and the appropriate adult safeguard’ – Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (Cardiff, 2019)
  • ‘Vulnerability in police custody: the English and Welsh perspective’ – Faculty of Law, Maastricht University (Maastricht, 2019)
  • ‘The Experiences of criminal justice in Wales’ – Criminal Law, Criminal Justice and Criminology, Leicester Law School (Leicester, 2019)
  • ‘The experiences of criminal justice in south Wales’ – LSA (Washington, 2019); ESC (Ghent, 2019)
  • ‘European perspectives on vulnerability in criminal proceedings: vulnerability in England and Wales’ – ESC (Ghent, 2019)
  • ‘The experiences of criminal justice in Wales’ – LSA (Washington, 2019)
  • ‘Vulnerability and access to justice: lawyers and legal aid in south Wales’ – SLSA (Leeds, 2019)
  • ‘Experiences of Criminal Justice in South Wales’ – SLSA (Leeds, 2019)
  • ‘Vulnerability and the Subjects and Objects of Law’ (Roundtable discussion) – LSA (Washington, 2019)
    ‘Housing and the responses to domestic violence: a review of Domestic Homicide Reviews’ – Making a Stand Cymru (Cardiff, 2019)
  • ‘Conceptualising vulnerability in police custody’ – Criminal Justice Research Centre (Nottingham, 2019)
  • ‘Young People and Police Custody’ – School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, QUB (Belfast, 2019)
  • ‘Roundtable – Quality of Criminal Defence’ – Transform Justice (London, 2019)
  • ‘Thematic Roundtable – Mental Health’ – Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) (London, 2019)
  • ‘Implementing Vulnerability Theory in Legislative or Judicial Contexts’ (Roundtable discussion) – A Workshop on Vulnerability Theory and the Human Condition: Celebrating a Decade of Innovation (Leeds, 2018)
  • ‘Interrogating vulnerability: conceptualising and reconceptualising vulnerability under Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984’ – Law Staff Seminar (Cardiff, 2018)
  • ‘Vulnerability in police custody: police decision-making and the appropriate adult safeguard’ – Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (Cardiff, 2018)
  • ‘Is the law still failing ‘vulnerable’ suspects?’ – PublicUni, Cardiff University (Cardiff, 2018)
  • ‘Who – and what – is the ‘appropriate’ appropriate adult?’ – Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (Cardiff, 2018)
  • 'Constructing the case for the defence: ineffective lawyering, police impropriety and the efficacy of legal protections’ - LSA (Toronto, 2018)
  • ‘Professionalism and ethics’ (Roundtable discussion) – Workshop on Vulnerability and the Social Reproduction of Resilient Societies (Atlanta, 2018)
  • ‘Interrogating vulnerability: conceptualising and reconceptualising vulnerability under Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984’ - Workshop on Vulnerability and the Social Reproduction of Resilient Societies (Atlanta, 2018)
  • ‘Vulnerability in police custody: reflections from the field’ – Independent Office for Police Conduct (London, 2018)
  • ‘What is known about the experiences of vulnerable court users?’ – ESRC-HMCTS workshop on vulnerable court users (London, 2018)
  • 'Who is the 'vulnerable adult'?: reflections on the Home Office's proposed changes to Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984’ - SLSA (Bristol, 2018)
  • 'The appropriate adult safeguard: exploring the descriptive and the normative' - SLSA (Bristol, 2018)
  • 'PACE, suspects’ rights and the case for the defence: ineffective lawyering, police impropriety and the efficacy of legal protections’ – Howard League for Penal Reform (Oxford, 2018)
  • 'Professional Vulnerability in the Context of the Criminal Justice Process in England and Wales' - Workshop on Professionalism and Vulnerability (Leeds, 2017)
  • ‘Invisibility of disability in the Criminal Justice System: vulnerability and the appropriate adult safeguard’ – LSESU Penal Reform Society (Panel Contribution) (London, 2017)
  • ‘Barriers to implementing the appropriate adult safeguard’– National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN) Professional Development Day (Bristol, 2017)
  • ‘Can practitioners and institutions be ‘vulnerable’?: examining the effect of neo-liberalism and austerity on police custody and criminal legal aid’ – British Society of Criminology Annual Conference (Sheffield, 2017)
  • ‘Constructions of ‘mental disorder’ and ‘mental vulnerability’ in police custody: more than just ‘understanding’ and ‘capacity’?’ – Mental Disability PGR and ECR Conference (Nottingham, 2017)
  • ‘Conceptualising practitioners and institutions as ‘vulnerable’: examining Fineman’s vulnerability thesis in the context of the criminal justice system’ – DMU-Leicester-Modena Conference: A Dialogue on Law and Rights (Modena, 2017)
  • ‘“We’re vulnerable too”: an (alternative) analysis of vulnerability within criminal legal aid and police custody’ – SLSA (Newcastle, 2017)
  • ‘Vulnerable by law but not by nature: exploring child and youth vulnerability in the context of police custody’ - Third Leicester-Modena Conference: A Dialogue on Law and Rights (Leicester, 2016); 10th North-South Irish Criminology Conference (Maynooth, 2016); British Society of Criminology Annual Conference (Nottingham, 2016); European Society of Criminology (Muenster, Germany, 2016)
  • ‘Vulnerability in police custody:  custody officers’ constructions of ‘vulnerability’ for the appropriate adult safeguard’ - Inaugural UK Mental Disability Law Conference (Nottingham, 2016)
  • ‘Automatic authorisation: assessing necessity to detain under PACE 1984’ – SLSA (Lancaster, 2016)
  • ‘Interrogating Vulnerability: a critical analysis of vulnerability under Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984’ - SLSA (Lancaster, 2016); Human Rights Centre (Belfast, 2016); Socio-Legal Seminar (Leicester, 2016)
  • ‘Automatic authorisation: an exploration of the decision to detain in police custody’ – Criminal Law, Criminal Justice and Criminology Seminar (Leicester, 2016)
  • ‘Identifying and defining vulnerability in police custody: assessing impact’ - Annual Summer PGR Conference (Birmingham, 2015)
  • ‘Implementing the appropriate adult safeguard – custody officers’ responses’ - Midlands Postgraduate Conference in Law (Leicester, 2015)
  • ‘Identifying Vulnerability and Risk in Police Custody: An Exploration of Themes’ - SLSA (Warwick, 2015)
  • ‘A Miscarriage of Justice at the Custody Suite?’ - Miscarriages of Justice Project (Leicester, 2015)
  • ‘The appropriate adult safeguard in police custody’ - Miscarriages of Justice Project (Leicester, 2014)

Committees and reviewing

  • Research Advisory Group - 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-) (PI: Prof Ursula Kilkelly, UCC)
  • Article reviewer: European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research (2020), Oñati Socio-Legal Series (2020); Journal of Law and Society (2020); Howard Journal of Crime and Justice (2018; 2020 - twice); Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2019)
  • Textbook reviewer: Oxford University Press (2018; 2020)
  • Monograph reviewer: Palgrave Macmillan (2020); Policy Press (2017; 2020); Routledge (2020)
  • Grant reviewer: Independent Social Research Foundation (2020)
  • Seminar grants reviewer: SLSA (2020-)







Roxanna has been awarded funding by the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Research Council, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and the National Independent Safeguarding Board. As PI or CO-I, Roxanna has been involved in projects totalling over £1million. Roxanna has also been awarded over £4000 of internal funding for various projects.

Roxanna is currently examining criminal justice in Wales (with Newman), the appropriate adult safeguard (and how it may be conceptualised), gender in police custody (with Hodgson, Skinns, Munro and Kempen), race and racialisation in Wales (with Jones and Whitfield). She will soon commence work with Tomczak (PI) on how to regulate criminal justice detention.

Roxanna is passionate about using socio-legal approaches to interrogate various aspects of the criminal justice process. Her first book - deemed a 'major contribution to the field' by Prof Emeritus Gisli Gudjonsson CBE - critically appraises the operationalisation of the appropriate adult safeguard for adult suspects in police custody, providing the first in-depth examination of the appropriate adult safeguard in the 30 years post-PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984). Her second book (with Newman) is the first to holistically examine the operation of criminal justice in Wales and will be published in 2021 with Bristol University Press.

Roxanna’s primary interests are on inequality in the criminal justice process, specifically the treatment of those considered 'vulnerable'. She is also interested in pre-trial detention, specifically police custody and the decisions made therein; criminal defence and access to (criminal) justice; and comparative criminal justice, specifically rights and entitlements at the pre-trial stage. Roxanna also has a strong interest in youth justice, marketisation and privatisation in criminal justice, criminal justice responses to mental health and disability, the criminalisation of immigration, and qualitative methodologies.


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

  • Mental health in the criminal justice system
  • Police discretion
  • Police custody
  • Vulnerability in the criminal justice system
  • Vulnerability theory
  • Suspect/defendant rights