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Research commission: Lived experience

Exploring people’s experience of crime and problem gambling

Exploring people’s experience of crime and problem gambling


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). The literature suggests that problem gambling causes harm to the individual, their immediate networks, and the wider community.

This research seeks to focus on and amplify the voices of those directly affected by problem gambling and crime. It aims to highlight the complex interplay between crime and problem gambling through in-depth qualitative research about people’s lived experiences. The literature review suggests that the relationship may not be simple, pointing to factors such as demographic background, gender, mental health, and cross-addictions as well as co-morbidities and lifestyle factors. This suggests a complex picture when looking to develop a greater understanding of the relationship between and the trajectory of problem gambling and crime.

The aim of the research is to map issues such as how people first engage with gambling, what types of gambling they partake in, how it escalates and when and how it results in the committing of crime. The research will also seek to identify how it affects key relationships such as employment, social and familial networks. We will hopefully gain a greater understanding about whether (and if so, how) interventions or treatments for problem gambling are sought or utilised.

The research will be undertaken by conducting interviews with people who have lived experience of problem gambling and crime.

The research will begin in November 2020 and run for 10 months, and is due to be presented in a final report in September 2021.

Research commission updates 

Please check back for reports on the team’s findings.

The research team 

Dr Lauren Smith, Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, has been appointed to conduct this research.

Dr Lauren Smith
Lecturer in Psychology, University of Lincoln.

Lauren joined the University of Lincoln in April 2020, having spent over 10 years working as a Practitioner within the criminal justice system.  Her previous employment with Lincolnshire Action Trust involved supporting people at various stages within the criminal justice system, including courts, prison and probation.  She worked as a Resettlement Practitioner and Senior Resettlement Practitioner, supporting men to prepare for release from prison through providing one-to-one and group sessions in relation to accommodation, employment and training, and finances.  She also worked with HMP Lincoln to develop and deliver the innovative Supporting People After Remand or Conviction (SPARC) service which offers support to people during their transition from court into prison.  In addition, she has worked within prison family support services.  More recently, she was the Performance and Development Manager for Lincolnshire Action Trust, responsible for the development of new services, training of new staff, and contract compliance.  Prior to her employment with Lincolnshire Action Trust, she has also worked as a Psychological Assistant for HM Prison and Probation Service, and worked extensively with families experiencing homelessness.

Lauren conducts both qualitative and quantitative research which focusses on the resettlement and reintegration of people with convictions.  Her PhD research focussed on how people can be supported during their transitions through custody.  She has also completed an evaluation of the Prison Voicemail Service and researched gambling in prison.  Most recently, she has undertaken research to explore the impact of Covid-19 on families of people in prison and on people who are experiencing homelessness.

At a local level, Lauren represents the University on the Lincolnshire Reducing Offending Core Priority Group.

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