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Dr Samantha Burns


I am a Lecturer in Criminology within the Department of Sociology. I currently co-convene on the Violence and Abuse module with Nicole Renehan and lead the Criminolgoy qualitative group projects for the Research Methods in Action modules.

My research area is focused on systemic, cultural, epistemic and insitution harms within and beyond the youth justics system. This has stemmed from interests that have been primarily focused on looking critically at children and young people’s participation and co-production in the criminal justice context, which has been fuelled from both my academic learning and work experience. In research, I tend to work collaboratively across various disciplines on project which aim to improve outcomes for children, young people, and families informing policy in health, social care, education, and criminal justice sectors.

Prior to working at Durham University, I studied Social Policy and Criminal Justice at York University. Then I completed my PhD within the department of Social and Behavioural Sciences at City University in Hong Kong where I conceptually explored participation and co-production within local child and youth services using an ethnographic approach. This was an immensely exciting and challenging experience as I was living and researching in a new sociocultural and political context. This research project re-shaped my world views, and gain experience as an international student studying in a different country.

Before studying at Unviersity, I worked in a variety of dynamic and engaging roles across the fields of education and youth work in both statutory and voluntary organisations. A prominent role which influenced my research interests was being a project coordinator for a regional Youth Commission on Police and Crime. This role gave me first hand insight into both the opportunities and barriers of children and young people being able to influence governance, policy and practice across police and other local services. I draw on my lived experiences to influence my research and teaching. Methodologically, I am really interested in co-production and participatory action research (PAR), ensuring that lived experience is valued and contributes to social justice.

Alongside my role at Durham University, I am currently Deputy Chair of the National Association of Youth Justice (NAYJ), an organisation focusing on strategic change in justice services for children and young people alongside partnership working with agencies who campaign for improving youth justice policy and practice ( Other roles include being an advisory board member for Peer Power Youth ( and member of the Risk Work in Young Lives network ( 



Research interests

  • Children and young peoples’ participation and co-production
  • Exploring theory and application of risk in young people’s lives
  • Social care and justice response to children, young people, and families
  • Vulnerability, deviance and power/control
  • Youth justice policy and practice


Chapter in book

Journal Article