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Revolving Doors conducting major research and policy project to understand people’s ‘Lived Experience of the Law’

In partnership with the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), Birkbeck, Revolving Doors is conducting a major 2.5 year research project to highlight people’s lived experiences of family and criminal court proceedings. The research started in January 2023 and will be completed in September 2025. It is funded by the Nuffield Foundation. 

This research will contribute to our ‘procedural justice’ strategic priority,[1] by gaining new insight into how ‘the law’ is understood and experienced by people personally involved in court proceedings. It also aims to examine how contact with ‘the law’ over time may shape people’s personal views, expectations and experiences of ‘effective participation’, ‘access to justice’ and the role and value of the criminal justice system.   

The project follows on from previous research[2] conducted by the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), Birkbeck, which explored the meaning of ‘effective participation’, its importance and how it is supported or undermined, from the perspective of justice professionals. The ‘Lived Experience of the Law’ project therefore provides an important and invaluable opportunity to build upon this existing research – and its’ recommendations for reform – by platforming the perspectives and experiences of people using the courts across both the family and criminal justice system.  

The research seeks to answer three questions:  

  • How are perceptions and expectations of legal rights, justice and the judicial process shaped by individuals’ formal and informal encounters with the law over time? 
  • How can the concepts of ‘effective participation’ and ‘access to justice’ most usefully be defined from a lived experience perspective, and what are the main barriers to participation and access? 
  • What reforms – in terms of policy, practice and public legal education – are needed to address existing barriers to participation and access, and how can the implementation of these reforms best be supported? 

Co-production is key to the research design and is incorporated throughout the project:  

  • Revolving Doors’ lived experience members co-produced the initial funding proposal to the Nuffield Foundation. This ensured that the overall focus, aims and methodological design of the research was informed by the perspectives of people with lived experience of the law right from the project’s inception.  
  • A team of trained Peer Researchers with lived experience of ‘the law’ are actively involved in all elements of the design and delivery of the research. This includes co-developing trauma-informed research materials, co-conducting interviews, co-analysing findings and co-facilitating policy workshops.  
  • We will deliver policy workshops to co-produce recommendations for policy and practice informed by discussions shared between people with lived experience of court proceedings, justice professionals and other relevant stakeholders. These workshops will bring people together who may otherwise not meet – or engage in dialogue – outside of judicial proceedings.   

This research will therefore provide a new and important insight into people’s lived experience of court proceedings, their personal journeys through such processes and how contact with ‘the law’ over time may shape experiences and perceptions of ‘procedural justice’.  

Further information about the study can be found here: Lived Experience of the Law: A research and policy project | Institute for Criminal Policy Research ( 

If you want to participate in the study click here: Lived Experience Of The Law: A Research And Policy Project | Institute for Criminal Policy Research (