Dr Coretta Phillips

Coretta Phillips

Department: Department of social policy|; Mannheim centre for criminology| ;Contact details: +44 (0)20 7955 7974; coretta.phillips@lse.ac.uk| ;Administrative support: Anne Okello; Room: OLD M2.27



Dr Coretta Phillips is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the London School of Economics, and a member of the Mannheim centre for criminology. Previous positions include Assistant Professor at the School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University and Principal Research Officer in the Home Office, Research Statistics and Development Directorate.



Research interests

Coretta Phillips' recent research has been concerned with ethnicities, racism, crime, and criminal justice outcomes. She is currently writing a book on the construction and negotiation of ethnic and masculine identities among white, minority ethnic, and foreign national prisoners. This will explore more broadly the dynamics of 'multicultural prisons', based on her ESRC-funded study under the Identities and Social Action research programme.

Previously she has conducted research on: the internal role and external influence of black and Asian professional associations in the criminal justice field; community safety and multi-agency partnership working and structures; the arrest, detention and prosecution process; repeat victimisation and racist violence, and aggression and violence in the lives of girls and boys of school age.



External activities

Consultancy and advice to the public sector:-


  • Clinks (2010) - The Resettlement Needs of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Offenders
  • Judicial Studies Board (2009) - Equal Treatment Benchbook
  • Home Office Research Steering Group (2006) - Drivers of Perceptions of Race Discrimination in Public Services
  • Home Office Research Advisory Group (2005) - Bail Decision-Making

Member of:

  • NOMS Independent Equalities Advisory Group (previously member of Independent Advisory Group, HMPS Race Review Action Team)
  • Runnymede Trust Academic Forum
  • Howard League Research Advisory Group

Editorial Board:

  • British Journal of Criminology
  • Race and Justice





  • Bowling, B. and Phillips, C. (2002) Racism, Crime and Justice. Harlow: Pearson Education (Longman Criminology Series).

    Racism, Crime and Justice offers a broad overview of this challenging and underexplored field. The book synthesises a great deal of empirical research evidence, documentary accounts and illustrative examples in order to give a minority perspective on the race and crime debate.

    The book looks systematically at the influence of race in determining the prison population, in influencing decisions by the courts, in the function and behaviour of the police, in the extent and nature of crime committed (both by and against ethnic minorities).

    The book ends by discussing policy issues, and explores the options open in seeking to combat discrimination on racial grounds within the criminal justice system following the findings of the Lawrence Inquiry.

    Although specialist studies have appeared and there have been general texts containing chapter length summaries of the area, there is no up-to-date textbook on this important theme.

publisher's site|




  • Phillips, C. (2010) 'Institutional Racism and Ethnic Inequalities: An Expanded Multilevel Framework', Journal of Social Policy

The concept of institutional racism re-emerged in political discourse in the late 1990s after a long hiatus. Despite it initially seeming pivotal to New Labour's reform of policing and the antecedent of a new race equality agenda, it has remained a contested concept that has been critiqued by multiple constituencies.

This paper notes the ambiguities and contradictions of the concept and considers its validity as an explanatory concept for long-observed ethnic inequalities in educational attainment and stop and search. In so doing, it argues for its retention, but only within a multilevel framework that incorporates racialisations operating at the micro, meso and macro levels.

LSE Research Online| 

  • Phillips, C. and Earle, R. (2010) 'Reading Difference Differently? Identities, Epistemology and Prison Ethnography', British Journal of Criminology 50(2): 360-378.

Prison ethnographers have tended to downplay the epistemological and methodological dilemmas relating to identity and positionality, which have been more commonly rehearsed in anthropological and sociological ethnographies.

This paper explores these issues through a reflexive interrogation of a study of prisoner identities and social relations in two male prisons, with a particular focus on race/ethnicity, class and gender.

 Drawing from interactions with two prisoners as case studies, it applies Walkerdine et al.'s (2001) psycho-social analytical frame to illustrate how the subjectivities and biographies of researchers are implicated in the dynamics of prison research encounters and analysis. In doing so, it considers the epistemological implications of reflexive practice for interpreting the prison field.

LSE Research Online |

  • Earle, R. and Phillips, C. (2009) 'Con-Viviality': Identity Dynamics in a Young Men's Prison', in M. Wetherell (ed.) Liveable Lives: Negotiating Identities in New Times. Basingstoke: Palgrave.                                                                   

                                                                                                          LSE Research Online

  • Phillips, C. (2008) 'Negotiating Identities: Ethnicity and Social Relations in a Young Offenders' Institution', Theoretical Criminology 12(3): 313-331.

This paper explores the situated nature of male prisoner identities in the late modern British context, using the contrasting theoretical frames of Sykes' (1958) indigenous model and Jacobs' (1979) importation model of prisoner subcultures and social relations.

Drawing on eight months ethnographic fieldwork in an ethnically, religiously, and nationally diverse young offenders' institution, consideration is given to how prisoners' manage and negotiate difference, exploring the contours of racialisation and racism which can operate in ambiguous and contradictory ways.

Sociological understandings of identity, ethnicity, racialisation and racism are used to inform a more empirically-grounded theoretical criminology.

LSE Research Online|

  • Bowling, B., Parmar, A. and Phillips, C. (2008) 'Policing Minority Ethnic Communities', in T. Newburn (ed.) Handbook of Policing. Second Edition. Cullompton: Willan Publishing.
  • Bowling, B. and Phillips, C. (2007) 'Disproportionate and Discriminatory: Reviewing the Evidence on Police Stop and Search', Modern Law Review 70(6): 936-961.

Eight years after the Lawrence Inquiry, the question of police powers to stop and search people in public places remains at the forefront of debate about police community relations. Police are empowered to stop and search citizens under a wide range of legislative acts and the power is employed daily across Britain.

Far from laying the debate to rest, the Lawrence Inquiry prompted new research studies and fresh theories to explain the official statistics. We argue that the statistics show that the use of the powers against black people is disproportionate and that this is an indication of unlawful racial discrimination. If stop and search powers cannot be effectively regulated - and it seems that they cannot - then their continued use is unjustified and should be curtailed.

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  • Phillips, C. and Bowling, B. (2007) 'Ethnicities, Racism, Crime and Criminal Justice', in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Fourth Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


  • Phillips, C. (2007) 'The Re-Emergence of the 'Black Spectre': Minority Professional Associations in the Post-Macpherson Era', Ethnic and Racial Studies 30(3): 375-396.

This article reflects on the forging of a collective black identity among professionals working within the criminal justice field in the aftermath of the Macpherson Report (1999). Drawing on interviews with the Chairpersons of 'black' and 'Asian' professional associations, it describes the familiar tensions associated with mobilising against racism and discrimination in the workplace.

These include the viability of an inclusive black political position and the challenge of 'fighting from within' or being a 'critical friend' of criminal justice services. The political backdrop is one in which the policy goal of eliminating 'institutional racism' has given way to a discourse of 'promoting race equality and embracing diversity'.

Despite the obstacles, these professional associations provide a safe and supportive network for members which is grounded in a powerful, shared history of occupational racism.

LSE Research Online|

  • Phillips, C. (2007) 'Ethnicity, Identity, and Community Cohesion in Prison', in M. Wetherell, M. Lafleche and R. Berkeley (eds.) Identity, Ethnic Diversity and Community Cohesion. London: Sage.

        LSE Research Online|

  • Phillips, C. (2005) 'Facing Inwards and Outwards?: Institutional Racism, Race Equality and the Role of Black and Asian Professional Associations', Criminology and Criminal Justice 5(4): 357-377.

This article considers the role and influence of black and Asian professional associations in the criminal justice services, five years on from the pivotal Lawrence Inquiry (1999) and its assertion that 'institutional racism' was endemic in the British police service.

Drawing on interviews with Chairpersons of seven professional associations, and a small case study of the Association of Black Probation Officers, the paper explores their internal supportive function in assisting members who have experienced various forms of occupational racism.

A tentative proposal is made for black and Asian professional associations to develop their external focus to utilise members' life skills and cultural knowledge to challenge the institutional dynamics of racism within the criminal justice services and to engage more directly with local black and Asian communities. Such work can be conceptually framed by conceiving of ethnicity as a resource.

LSE Research Online|

  • Bowling, B, Phillips, C., Campbell, A. and Docking, M. (2005) 'Policing and Human Rights', in Y. Bangura and R. Stavenhagen (eds.) Racism and Public Policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

LSE Research Online|