Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Dr Grace Robinson

Dr Grace Robinson

Founder & Director

Grace is the Founder and Director of Black Box Research and Consultancy. Having completed her PhD on Urban Street Gangs, Child Criminal Exploitation and County Lines in 2019, Grace is able to offer contemporary insights into one of the most common forms of modern slavery in the UK. She has provided her expertise in over 250 modern slavery cases nationally, comprising drugs and weapon offences, fraud, burglary and robbery. She has also prepared reports for asylum and immigration tribunals.

Previously employed by the University of Nottingham’s ‘Rights Lab’, Grace led on projects; (1) exploring the impact of Covid-19 on County Lines, and (2) examining the intersection between cognitive impairment and exploitation. She was also involved in a project investigating the prevalence of trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines.

Grace has recently undertaken a course on the Identification, Support and Care for Victims of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking at St. Mary’s University. She is a Visiting Practitioner in Criminology at Edge Hill University and sits on the Criminology Professional Advisory Group.

Grace regularly delivers training on criminal exploitation and County Lines, participating in podcasts, radio interviews and documentaries. She has recently consulted with members of the House of Lords on the Nationality and Borders Bill.

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Daniel Adams

Daniel Robinson

Executive Director, Development & Communications

Daniel comes from a business development background and has a wealth of experience in procurement, customer relations and project management. Daniel will have responsibility for developing Black Box’s strategic objectives and will lead on implementing and evaluating internal and external digital communication.

Whilst at Black Box, Daniel has conducted international research projects including, but not limited to, the trafficking and slavery of Albanian and Vietnamese nationals. He also heads up Youth In Justice, an exciting, new non-profit Community Interest Company offering support to victims and survivors of modern slavery.

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Shelley Cathers

Shelley Cathers

Research Assistant

Shelley is currently completing a PhD in Psychology at the University of Liverpool. Her project explores the perspectives of children, parents/caregivers and police/professionals towards police and other agencies responses to Child Criminal Exploitation. Shelley is interested in Child Criminal Exploitation, County Lines and evidence-based policing. She has provided support to vulnerable young people and adults whilst working with the National Probation Service and in an Alternative Education Provision.

Shelley will be leading Black Box’s evaluative pieces and assisting with the compilation of Expert Witness reports on criminal exploitation and County Lines.

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Jack Pippard

Jack Pippard

Data Analyst

Jack is currently undertaking a PhD at Loughborough University. His research seeks to explore the impact of sport on reducing youth violence within London. Through this Jack has developed criminological expertise and research skills which have been further employed in projects conducted in collaboration with the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee and the London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). These collaborations have also sought to explore sport’s potential benefits in preventing violent extremism and youth violence respectively.

As a Data Analyst at Black Box, Jack will look to utilise and develop his skills to aid and assist in projects that are aligned to Black Box’s aims to support those who find themselves vulnerable to exploitation through modern slavery.

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Mike Andrews

Mike Andrews

Account Manager

Mike brings over thirty years of experience in his field, twenty of which were as a senior account manager within multinational companies. With an extensive history in business management, Mike is an advisor to Black Box Research and Consultancy and is responsible for all aspects of credit control within the company.

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Diane Hackney

Diane Hackney

Account Manager

Diane has extensive experience in customer facing and strategic roles. She has a proven track record in building and strengthening client relationships to achieve long-term partnerships. Diane is responsible for internal admin and maintaining clients’ accounts, concerns and needs.

Experts and Academic Advisors

Darrel Jones

Darrell Jones

Since completing the National Crime Agency Drug Trafficking Expert Evidence course in 2010, Darrell has compiled and quality assured over 2,000 Expert Witness statements. 

In January 2016 he became the first full time Drug Expert Witness Officer within the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and took a leading role in setting up the MPS dedicated Drug Expert Witness Unit. This involved the recruitment of officers, the development of a training and mentoring program, continued personal development, planning external development seminars, the quality assurance of expert reports and setting procedures to collate identifiable prices of drugs being offered within London.

Darrell was recently awarded a Masters in Criminology at the University of West London. 

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Dr Craig Barlow

Dr Craig Barlow

Dr Craig Barlow is a Criminologist and Independent Consultant in Forensic Social Work. Over the past 30 years he has been involved in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and the assessment and management of violent and sexual offenders in both secure forensic and community settings. He has been an honorary fellow and part-time lecturer in the Criminology and Sociology programme and the MA Human Trafficking programme at St. Mary’s since 2019. Craig has many years’ experience of researching the organised and networked abuse and exploitation of children and vulnerable adults, he has acted as an expert adviser to Police and Prosecutors in cases of trafficking and modern slavery since 2014. His doctoral research developed a new theoretical model for understanding, describing, and explaining Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) which he continues to develop to address other contexts for modern slavery.

Craig regularly provides expert evidence to the criminal and family courts but continues to pursue his research interests with the Wilberforce Institute (University of Hull) and The Bakhita Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. He lectures on the subject of modern slavery throughout the country and abroad and is engaged as a consultant by a number of organisations including law enforcement statutory services, governing bodies and NGOs.

Prosecutor Caroline Haughey KC has said of Craig “I have relied on Dr Barlow’s expertise for nearly 10 years, operation FORT is the largest trafficking/labour exploitation case in Europe with an excess of 300 victims a very large number of whom had profound mental health problems (one of the reasons they were exploited). Deciding who to rely on as witnesses was critical to the case and his analysis of the supporting material on the mental health, learning needs and vulnerability of each of my complainants was vital in the shaping of the trial … His assistance was intrinsic to the successful prosecution of the case.”

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Dr Laura Higson-Bliss

Dr Laura Higson-Bliss

Having completed her PhD on the use of the criminal law to govern online behaviour, Laura is able to offer workshops examining the legal consequences of irresponsible social media usage; including, though not limited to, criminal, employment and civil law repercussions. She is completing a British and Irish Law Education and Technology Association funded project exploring police attitudes to social media complaints.

Laura is a Lecturer at Keele University and has widely shared her work on the implications of irresponsible social media usage, including media articles, radio interviews and appearing twice on the BBC’s “The Big Questions”. 

Publications

Higson-Bliss, L., (2019) ‘The Protection from Harassment Act 1997: Failures by the Criminal Justice System in a Social Media Age‘, The Journal of Criminal Law, 83(3), pp. 217-228. 

Higson-Bliss, L., (2017) ‘The Crown Prosecution Guidelines and Grossly Offensive Comment: An analysis‘, Journal of Media Law, 9(2), pp. 173-188. 

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Adam Pendlebury

Adam Pendlebury

Adam Pendlebury is Senior Lecturer in Law at Edge Hill University. His research interests include sports-related violence and anti-doping measures.

​Adam is an editorial board member of the UK division of LawInSport. He has also worked as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and Blackburn College.

Publications

Pendlebury, A., (2016) ‘The Regulation of on-the-ball Offences: Challenges in Court’ , The Entertainment and Sports Law Journal 10(3), p. 3. 

Parrish, R., and Pendlebury, A., (2013) ‘Sports Justice in England‘, European Sports Law and Policy Bulletin 1/2013.

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