Digital Bystanders and the Future of Policing: towards a ‘Citizen Forensics’. Self-funded PhD in Psychology Ref: 3068

About the Research Project

Location:  Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, EX4 4QJ

Academic Supervisors:
Prof Mark Levine, (University of Exeter)
Dr Miriam Koshate-reis, (University of Exeter)

Project Description:

Digital technologies are increasingly used to record different aspects of peoples’ lives, from activity and location tracking, to social interactions and audio-visual recordings of life experiences. This wealth of digital data raises important questions about surveillance and sousveillance in modern life. For example, technology can enhance the capabilities of the state to investigate crimes and maintain public safety, but it can also undermine civil liberties and transform social relations in ways that threaten social cohesion. At the same time, technologies can enhance the power of citizens to hold authorities to account or can be used by the public to target and harass law abiding citizens. Developing new criminal justice technologies which create beneficial impacts for society as a whole, and mitigate against the dangers of abuses of power, requires careful examination of police-public relations. Take for example debates over the use of police bodycams, discussions about the collection and analysis of mobile phone footage of crimes and protests (including police brutality), or the entrapment of paedophile suspects by members of the public.

To that end, this project will work with law enforcement and community groups to understand how and why citizens might collaborate with the police to support investigations involving digital data.  A key part of this will be the role of groups and social identities in motivating pro-social behaviours, as well as how public discourse on technology and police-citizen collaboration affects attitudes and public trust regarding such collaboration.  The aim of the project will be to build an empirically grounded process model for collaborative evidence gathering, processing and analysis, which will help realise a vision of ‘citizen forensics’.

The successful candidate will have a background in social psychology or a related discipline and have some experience of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. They will have an interest in how research questions and impact solutions can be co-created with research partners like the Police, City Council and Civil Society groups. The candidate will also have the opportunity to work with the Software Engineering & Design (SEAD) group at The Open University (OU) through the recently awarded EPSRC Platform Grant -  SAUSE: Secure, Adaptive, Usable Software Engineering  (EP/R013144/1).

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor: Professor Mark Levine

Information about current fees can be found here:

Information about possible funding sources can be found here:


Entry requirements

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree from a UK university, or equivalent, in Psychology or related discipline.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

How to apply

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and two academic references. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project. You may also be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most academic qualification.

For general information about this project and the application process, please contact

Please quote reference 3068 on your application and in any correspondence about this project.



Application deadline:10th June 2018
Value:This project is self-funded
Duration of award:Not applicable
Contact: Postgraduate Research Office