We sponsor research to bring about change in how women and girls are dealt with in the criminal justice system

Our fellows

Our Fellows are at the heart of what we do... 

.....and it is in our Vision and Mission that Griffins:

  • harness the experience and knowledge of practitioners working on the front-line;
  • enable them to identify, explore and draw attention to specific issues relating to women and girls in contact with criminal justice;
  • provide them with the opportunity and the capacity to undertake robust and rigorous research whilst remaining in the workplace;
  • that through the use of qualitative research techniques, ensure the reality of the lived experience of women and girls is captured and heard;
  • supports individual growth by encouraging new ways of thinking and developing new skills, broadening experience and understanding and increasing self-confidence;
  • links them with fellow practitioners, academics and policy makers, providing the opportunity to influence and promote change, locally and nationally.  

Now meet some of our current and past fellows......

They are displayed by the year they joined Griffins, with our most recent fellows at the top.


Photograph of fellow Maya Sikand

Maya Sikand

I was particularly attracted to the combination of practical and academic nature of the fellowship and was excited by the tie up with Cambridge. I chose to undertake it as I thought it would be both a change and a real challenge.

Date joined:


I am a civil liberties barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in public law as well as private law damages claims against public authorities, including prisons. I also have an appellate criminal practice that focuses on complex sentencing cases, trafficked victims and children and young people. 

Before being called to the Bar in 1997, I worked for a number of years with two NGOs providing safe housing, support and assistance to women and children fleeing domestic violence and sexual abuse. 

I am a Contributing Editor of the criminal text book Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence & Practice (Sweet & Maxwell); General Editor of the Blackstone's Guide to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (OUP, 2009) and author of ASBOs: a practitioner's guide to defending anti-social behaviour orders (LAG, 2006). 

The idea for my research project grew out of a judicial review challenge I took on behalf of a pregnant mother in a prison who was refused an MBU place. They took her baby away from her at birth and placed him in foster care. She was utterly devastated. I challenged the fairness of the operation of the admissions procedure. She was finally reunited with her baby but it was a long, hard process. I am researching how fair / accessible that procedure is against the background of a low take up of MBU places / a high refusal rate. The MBU literature and research to date has not included interviews with women prisoners. 

Tamara Pattinson

I believe that my manager saw an opportunity for not only my personal development but also the benefit for women within the criminal justice system and the potential impact/awareness raising a piece of research like this could provide.

Date joined:


I am the Head of Reducing Re-offending at HMP & YOI Low Newton, where I have worked for the past 7 years. I recently completed a part time law degree, achieving First Class Honours.

I have significant interest in women within the Criminal Justice System, a fellowship with the Griffins Society has given me the opportunity to further develop this interest and improve outcomes for this group.  My main driver is a real belief and strong opinion about women in custody and the suitability of custody for women who are mentally ill. Further it is based upon direct experiences whist working within a female prison where prison has been used as a place of safety and where women have had to be sectioned from weeks after being sentenced when, ultimately, it could have been done without the need to imprison first and more quickly.

On a personal front, I love to travel and explore the great outdoors. I am a keen runner and regularly participate in organised events to raise money for charity.

Photo of Griffins Fellow, Jean O'Neill

Jean O'Neill

I feel that the topic is challenging on a number of levels, ..... this is the first time such a piece of research will take place in the context of Northern Ireland

Date joined:


I work for the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, Area Manager Band 6.  My role includes the management of the Inspire Women’s Project, Belfast and co-ordinating the roll out of the INSPIRE model throughout Northern Ireland.  I have previously worked as a Probation Officer for the Probation Board for Northern Ireland and the Merseyside Probation Service. 

I returned to Northern Ireland to take up a management role in 1992. My areas of interest over the past 23 years include working in partnership with the community and other statutory sectors in the management of Car Crime in West Belfast.  I managed and led two projects, the Turas Project in 1993 and the IMPACT Car Crime project in 2004.  Both projects were recognised as successful in reducing car crime in the area.  

Since 2004, much of my work has been dedicated to the development of services for women offenders. I have assisted the drafting of the DOJNI Strategy for the Management of Women Offenders and those vulnerable to Offending 2010-13.  I have led the establishment of the Inspire Women’s Project and developed alongside colleagues in the voluntary and community sector, the current INSPIRE Model for the Management of Women Offenders. 

This project was evaluated by London South Bank University 2010 and was positively reviewed by Dame Owers in the Review of the Northern Ireland Prison Service 2011.  It was included in the Volunteer Now NI publication on working with women in the Criminal Justice System, 2013 and the Prison Reform Trust/ Soroptimist  International publication  ‘Transporting lives- reducing women’s imprisonment’ 2014. 

Image of Fellow Sue Jordan

Sue Jordan

I found the fellowship meetings with the Griffins Board indispensable - the support over obstacles kept me going and created a 'bigger picture' context so I didn't confuse impasse as personal failure

Date joined:


For the last 25 years I have worked in the probation service in a variety of settings including courts, youth service, prison, resettlement team and generic field work teams. I have been a Senior Probation Officer for 12 years and have managed teams in the courts and local prison. For 2 years I was seconded to the NOMS Women’s Team that aimed to divert women offenders from custody, promote awareness of this agenda and support the establishment of Women’s Community Centres in line with the recommendations of Baroness Corston’s report. I also helped set up and manage the centre in Leicester.

It was these experiences which led to my interest in exploring the impact of trauma on women’s compliance with the service and applying for a Griffins Society Fellowship to undertake research in this area.

I am currently managing a large city centre NPS team and am the Diversity Champion for the area. I remain keen to undertake more research and promote widespread establishment of trauma-informed environments.

Sue's paper can be found here.


Photo of Fellow, Shelly-Ann McDermott

Shelly-Ann McDermott

Conducting my research with this group of resilient women and dedicated support workers opened up my eyes to the importance, and wider implications, of enabling women to move out of and away from the criminal justice system.

Date joined:


I started my working life as a support worker for women and children survivors of domestic abuse and then as a mentor to young people in an inner city school.  I joined London Probation in 2002, qualified as a Probation Officer in 2004 and worked in a variety of settings, including a Magistrates' Court and a public protection team.  

I have been the Research "Single Point of Contact" within my local delivery unit and have sought opportunities to conduct and disseminate research to practitioner colleagues.  Having completed my Applied Criminology master's dissertation on counterfeit DVD street sellers in 2010, my research article won the 2012 Probation Journal Best Paper Prize.  

After completing my Griffins Society Fellowship, I conducted further research for the Sir Graham Smith Award.  This work examined Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) for potentially dangerous offenders within the community, which was published online in 2014 and within the Probation Institute's "Probation Quarterly" magazine in 2015.  

I currently work for the London Community Rehabilitation Company and hold an exclusively female caseload across a cluster of East London boroughs.  I am a member of the Probation Journal's Editorial Board which enables me to pursue my interests in evidence informed policy and practice.

Shelly's paper can be found here.

Photo of fellow, Jessica Southgate

Jessica Southgate

The fellowship helped me develop invaluable research skills and allowed me to explore an area of gender-specific service delivery in greater depth with the expert supervision of an academic.

Date joined:


My research was in response to increasing political and policy interest in the subject of girls, gangs and serious youth violence, and wider policy and practice developments in the women’s sector at the time. It developed from a personal interest in young women’s experiences of crime and violence, combined with evolving service delivery in this area at the charity I was working for at the time (Platform 51).

My work explored service delivery that aimed to meet the needs of girls and young women by hearing from those working in the field. Since completing the research I have spoken at a number events to different audiences working directly with girls and young women, where I have been able to share recommendations for service development.

Since completing the research I lead on participation with young people in the criminal justice system through the U R Boss project at the Howard League for Penal Reform, and am currently Head of Policy at 4Children as well as a Trustee for Women’s Breakout, the representative body for community based organisations offering gender specific community alternatives to custody for women.

Jessica's paper can be found here.


Photo of fellow Louise Clark

Louise Clark

It (undertaking the fellowship) completely transformed my career; I developed some great professional relationships and was able to apply for jobs and further research opportunities with confidence and expertise.

Date joined:


Carrying out the fellowship enabled me to progress my expertise in criminal justice and further researching sex working. I developed the national programme (Sex Workers in Prison) SWIP (with Griffins and the Prison Service), completed a 4 year sex work research project with Swansea University, chaired the UK NSWP Policy Group and have just been shortlisted for the Churchill grant to travel overseas to conduct more prison related research. I have spoken at events, presented international papers and written articles. I also continued my volunteering with a local sex worker project which enabled me to develop volunteering skills I have since used in other settings.

Louise's paper can be found here.