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Research Commissions

Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling

Research commission: sentencers understanding and treatment of problem gamblers

Research in partnership with the Magistrates Association


The Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling has commissioned an academic literature review that has shown that there is limited existing research into the relationship between crime and problem gambling. Most research has been undertaken in other jurisdictions, notably Australia, the US and Canada. The Commission seeks to understand the relationship between crime and problem gambling in England and Wales.

A recent study focussing on Great Britain suggests that over their lifetime, problem gamblers are 4.4 times more likely to serve a prison sentence compared with the average member of the population (IPPR, 2016). Yet there appears to be no official record or research relating to judicial consideration or understanding of problem gambling as it relates to the crime (see for example Brooks and Blaszczynski 2011). Problem gambling is increasingly regarded as a behavioural disorder; yet problem gambling is not considered to be a mitigating factor in sentencing in the same way as mental health issues or drug and alcohol addictions (Folino and Abait, 2009).

The research

This research proposed is focussed on magistrates. The Commission is seeking to understand the extent to which sentencers are aware of problem gamblers coming before them in court; their practice when problem gambling is apparent within a case; and to elicit magistrates’ views on the potential for courts to account for problem gambling.

It is proposed that the research will be undertaken in two phases:

  • Phase 1 will consist of a survey questionnaire that will be sent to all members of the Magistrates Association.
  • Phase 2 will complement the survey questionnaire to provide more discursive and qualitative research with magistrates. This is anticipated to take place in focus group settings. In addition, a stakeholder roundtable will also be convened.

The research is expected to produce both quantitative and qualitative findings.

The successful candidate will be required to work alongside the Magistrates Association and the Howard League throughout this process.


The research should be presented as a 10,000-word report which includes a literature review, analysis and recommendations. It should include a stand-alone executive summary which can be published as a separate briefing. Both should be written to publication standard.

The Howard League’s research guidelines can be found here.


It is expected that the research and the report will be completed in six months from the formal date of appointment.


£7,000 plus agreed expenses (in line with the Howard League for Penal Reform’s expenses policy).

Other information

The Howard League for Penal Reform is seeking to commission an individual to undertake this research rather than a university department. A contract directly with the successful applicant will be issued.

The successful applicant is expected to spend some time in London in the offices of the Howard League and the Magistrates Association/in virtual meetings (dependent on wider circumstances).

The researcher will be invited to present the research findings at a Crime and Problem Gambling Commission meeting. It is also expected that the author will support the wider dissemination of the research findings.

Selection process

Please email a CV plus a covering letter highlighting your research experience and suitability to undertake this research to Anita Dockley, Research Director by noon of Monday 27 July 2020. Email:

Shortlisted applicants will be called to interview on Wednesday 5 August 2020. It is anticipated that this will be conducted via zoom.

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