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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.

The research

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 should also seek to identify how it affects key relationships such as employment, social and familial networks. We would also be looking to understand if interventions or treatments for problem gambling had been sought or utilised.

We are seeking proposals for primary research using qualitative methodologies to understand the experience of adults who have been or who are subject to the criminal justice system as a result of problem gambling.


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 online here.


It is expected that the research and the report will be completed in 10 months from the formal date of appointment.


£15,000 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/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 an outline research proposal (one side of A4) along with a CV and covering letter highlighting your research experience and suitability to undertake this research to Anita Dockley, Research Director by noon of Monday 5 October 2020. Email:

Shortlisted applicants will be called to interview on Wednesday 14 October 2020. It is anticipated that this will be conducted via zoom.

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