Chris Dyke (2018 Cohort)


About me: I have a varied background with prior experience as a football commentator, charity coordinator, law pupil, social researcher, and working with vulnerable children. I have worked as a university lecturer and research student at Goldsmiths in the Education, Sociology and STaCS departments, and acted as an advisor to OfSTED, an All-Party Parliamentary Group, and over a dozen local authorities.

I have an MA (Ox) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and recently achieved an MSc in Social Research. I enjoy running, astronomy, quantitative analysis of large datasets and thematic analysis of interviews or documents. My research interests include: the sociology of illness and the medicalisation of social and neurological difference (including autism); underlying political attitudes and latent classes; the social impact of religiosity and religion; and the effectiveness of public services – I am interested in the assumptions we make about what professional interventions achieve, and the purpose and nature of public institutions and services in the context of drastic political, technological and environmental change.

My research: For this PhD I am exploring the underlying factors affecting decisions about the risk posed by perpetrators of domestic violence and other abuse. I am interested in how senior decision-makers in the courts, probation and other safeguarding agencies weigh up different factors which affect an offender’s likelihood of inflicting further harm.

The difference my research makes: Public authorities, and survivors of domestic abuse, place considerable trust and reliance on the decisions made at key junctures that address such abuse: court hearings, probation and local government risk management forums. From analysing decision-making documents that lay out the rationale for a judgement on risk, and interviewing decision-makers, I will use a critical realist framework to draw conclusions about which factors ultimately underpin difficult evaluations of whether an offender is likely to abuse again. These findings will inform decision-makers themselves, their organisations, and people directly affected by a perpetrator of abuse (namely partners and children) who benefit from knowing more about the nature of these decisions and their foundations. For example, if decision-makers placed particular weight on a particular professional intervention, this would raise the importance of increasing our understanding of that intervention’s effectiveness. Likewise, a reliance on a particular aspect of the offender’s behaviour or presentation would raise the urgency of improving our knowledge of the link between such presentation and the future risk of harm.

Supervisors: Dr Carol Rivas and Dr Karen Schucan Bird

Pathway: Social Policy

Location: UCL Institute of Education