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Policy briefs


Scroll down to view a variety of policy briefs produced by the University of Southampton researchers on a number of topical issues.

Marine Fisheries

Recommendations for advancing the Joint Fisheries Statement

This brief was prepared by academics specialising in marine fisheries management from across the University of Southampton, the University of Lincoln, Dalhousie University, the University of Exeter, the University of York, and the New Economics Foundation London. It aims to provide a balanced review of the current status of UK marine fisheries in light of significant changes to the UK’s marine fisheries management policy following Brexit and the introduction of the Fisheries Act. The latter provides that a Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) should be prepared by the UK fisheries policy authorities for the devolved nations to outline the policy strategy to achieve, or contribute to achieving, the eight fisheries objectives the Act sets out. Based on extensive reviews of the available evidence, this briefing document was prepared to provide a summary of recommendations that the consortium thinks should be included in the JFS.


Work After Lockdown: No Going Back

This brief stems from a major cross-institutional research project which is a part of UK Research & Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19. The sudden and enforced mass migration of office workers to working from home during the pandemic provided a unique opportunity to follow employers and employees as they adapted to new challenges from the very first lockdown all the way to the last. It revealed a permanent mindset shift about how work is organised among the UK’s formerly office-based workforce. What began as an accidental experiment around working from home is evolving into the mass hybridisation of the workforce but finding the right balance will be integral to its success. Whilst employers will want to keep control of employees’ output, employees will want to choose when and where they work, so they are productive and achieve a healthy work-life balance. Applying the lessons identified within this brief will help change the world of work to the mutual benefit of all parties involved by preserving positive gains around autonomy, flexibility and work-life balance, while enhancing those around workforce collaboration. This is in the best interest of organisations’ longevity as they run the risk of losing staff and damaging reputations if they fail to adapt to their workforce’s new expectations.


Examining Predictors of Vaccine Uptake and Hesitancy

While high-income settings have achieved relatively high coverage with their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, as of 21 March 2022 under 40% of the world’s population are yet to receive a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. Most unvaccinated people reside in low- and lower-middle income countries in sub-Saharan Africa which includes Ghana, where only 14.4% of the country is considered fully vaccinated. With the recent emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, large-scale vaccination coverage is fundamental to the national and global pandemic response. Government, healthcare, and policy groups in Ghana will require timely data to guide their immunisation strategies. Thus, it is fundamental to develop a rich understanding of the factors that influence people’s willingness to be vaccinated – especially in “hard to reach” rural communities where people may be more cut off from credible information sources. Amongst the range of measures identified, the findings from this brief particularly highlight the role of tailored health promotion messages about the continuing dangers of COVID-19 to reiterate the importance of the vaccine.


Technology and Policy Mapping for Sustainable Energy Access in the Global South

This policy brief captures outcomes from a research-to-action project under the Association of Commonwealth University’s Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort. The project focused on examining the cooking space in rural communities in Fiji, Ghana and Nigeria, and aimed to map alternative energy sources and technologies to gain an understanding of the main drivers and barriers that influence the effectiveness of policy development on the subject of clean energy for cooking in rural communities in the Global South. Within this context, this policy brief proposes pathways to present individual governments and partnering international development organisations with options to consider while developing and implementing effective and targeted policies to drive the clean energy cooking space in individual countries in the Global South.

Technology and Policy Mapping for Sustainable Energy Access
AI Taxonomy

AI Taxonomy

The development of Artificial intelligence (AI) is a strategic priority for the UK government. This has been accompanied by significant investment in AI capabilities including the creation of the Office for Artificial Intelligence, establishing a National Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, increasing AI skills capabilities and funding for the UKRI Strategic Priority Fund on Trustworthy Autonomous Systems. Across all of these initiatives, investments are targeting different components of the AI landscape. To maximise the rate of discovery across AI, efforts in all components have to be coordinated and co-optimised.

AI Taxonomy
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Building and enabling UK-Russian research capacity to address climate change effects on Arctic marine ecosystems

This policy brief sets out to address the importance of Arctic relations in both Russia and the United Kingdom, highlighting their major scientific interests and policy priorities. Several scenarios are proposed that seek to strengthen collaborative science that will contribute towards informed national and international policy.

The Arctic region is undergoing some of the most rapid rates of change in the world in response to climatic forcing, with dramatic transformations underway in the flora and fauna of coastal Arctic habitats that will affect many ecosystem properties and the delivery of ecosystem services.

Building and enabling UK-Russian research capacity to address climate change effects on Arctic marine ecosystems
Water metering
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Water Metering

Water is a scarce resource. Managing water demand is increasingly important in countries confronted with constraints on water supply due to extended periods of drought, leaks in an ageing supply infrastructure and concerns about the environmental impact of water extraction. Although the necessity to promote an efficient use of water receives widespread consensus among users, there is no similar consensus on how water metering and tariffs should be designed to reach this goal. In particular, the prospect of paying for water is often seen as a regressive tax at a time when the incidence of energy and water poverty is increasing among households with a low income.

Installing a meter is a necessary pre-requisite for introducing some form of price mechanism to manage water consumption.

Water Metering
Childbearing trends of West Africa
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Counting the Invisible: Uncovering the childbearing trends of West Africa’s youngest adolescents

Pregnancy in adolescence can pose severe health risks and long term social and economic disadvantage to young mothers and their babies, but childbearing patterns among the youngest remain essentially invisible. Common fertility measures exclude mothers aged 14 years and younger, and do not distinguish 15-year-old mothers from 19-year-olds even though the causes and consequences of motherhood at these ages differ considerably. Repeat births in adolescence, which carry additional serious health risks, are also obscured by traditional measures. Almost nothing is known about patterns of second and third (or more) births to adolescents.

Our innovative research, using nationally representative survey data, dives deep into West Africa’s adolescent childbearing trends to detail the patterns of the youngest vulnerable mothers. It reveals important and alarming trends.

The findings emerged from a research project entitled “The untold story of fifty years of adolescent fertility in West Africa: A cohort perspective on the quantum, timing, and spacing of adolescent childbearing”. The project has been supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP).

Uncovering the childbearing trends of West Africa’s youngest adolescents
Coastal Communities
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"CoastalRES' Improving the Resilience of UK Coastal Communities

Coastal policy documents increasingly talk about resilience as a goal, but they are often vague and unclear about what this means in practise. As a society we have been successful in reducing coastal risks from flooding and erosion since the 1953 disaster, but how can we enhance resilience to these same hazards? Building on developments by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the NERC ‘CoastalRes’ project has developed an approach to assess coastal resilience and this has been demonstrated for England. It shows how resilience to coastal flood and erosion hazard could be measured and applied within existing policy processes. As the extent of climate change impacts become apparent, adapting to evolving and less certain hazards, determining thresholds or trigger points, and balancing competing demands on the coast is increasingly important.

Refocusing national policy around enhancing resilience to coastal flooding and erosion requires firm commitment from government to develop a consensus methodology in which stakeholder values are explicitly considered, and incentives for coastal managers to engage with and apply this new approach.

"CoastalRES' Improving the Resilience of UK Coastal Communities
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FloraGuard: Tackling the illegal trade in endangered plants

Illegal commerce in exotic and wild plants and their derivatives threatens and destroys numerous species and important natural resources, and may cause phytosanitary and health problems. Plants are harvested and traded all over the world to use their parts and derivatives for a variety of purposes, including as ornamental plants, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, construction materials and food.

The policing of illegal plant markets remains limited and poorly resourced, with law enforcement agencies often lacking the technical capacity required to detect, investigate and prosecute these crimes. Within this context, our research brought together criminology, computer science, conservation science and law enforcement expertise to analyse the criminal market in endangered plants by using mixed methods and cross-disciplinary approaches, and to explore strategies to develop digital resources to assist law enforcement.

This policy brief is based on the project “FloraGuard: Tackling the illegal trade in endangered plants”, led by the University of Southampton (Department of Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology and Department of Electronics and Computer Science). The project has been supported by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and UK Border Force as Project Partners. The study employed a mixed method design including online quantitative, qualitative and visual analyses, and semi-structured interviews with law enforcement officers and CITES experts.

FloraGuard: Tackling the illegal trade in endangered plants | Policy Brief
living wage
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Advocating the Real Living Wage

The UK’s initiative on advocating the real living wage (RLW) among employers via the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) accreditation programme that
advocates paying employees a wage sufficient to live a decent life has become a successful national move with the potential to generate impact across
the globe going forward, particularly in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While it is perceived as ‘the right thing to do’, paying employees
the RLW also provides a variety of benefits to the investors and their clients, employers, employees and society in general.
At present, paying the RLW instead of the national minimum wage or the national living wage is a voluntary commitment promoted by nongovernmental organisations and investment management firms. In the UK, the LWF has taken a lead in promoting the living wage among the UK employers through the living wage accreditation programmes. These run in collaboration with the investment community and living wage campaigners from NGOs. As of March 2019, following a decade of successful work, the LWF has accredited more than 5000 employers. This accounts for more than 30% of the FTSE 100 firms and 15% of the FTSE 350 firms listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

This project is a joint initiative between the University of Southampton Business School, the Global Responsible Investment team of Aviva Investors and the Living Wage Foundation.


Advocating the Real Living Wage | Policy Brief
Youth Justice
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Embedding children's rights and research evidence in youth justice practice
The fundamental role of every Youth Offending Team in England and Wales is the same; to reduce offending by children and young people, and oversee the coordinated delivery of services to young people, particularly those who are in trouble with the law. Each Team therefore has a statutory constitution that necessitates collaboration with other services. These services include social work, probation, police, education, healthcare and other services. In Wales specifically, Youth Offending Teams have to work collaboratively with  devolved services (such as education and healthcare services) which are subject to the Welsh Government’s stated commitment to a rights-based approach that complements relevant Articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Consequently, Youth Offending Teams have to uphold several rights-based principles enshrined in the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and Welsh Government (WG)’s Children and Young People First, Offenders Second (CFOS) policy. This child-centred policy also underpins the stated values and aspirations of the wider YJB for England and Wales and it is embedded in the ‘child-centred’ strategic plan for youth Justice. The new strategic document for Wales also emphasises the children first principle and the aligned delivery of services by devolved and non-devolved services (Ministry of Justice 2019)3. In Wales, the CFOS policy places responsibilities on practitioners to safeguard the rights of children and young people who are supervised by Youth Offending Teams. To achieve this, Youth offending Teams are
expected to work towards several outcomes.

In their evaluation of the Pembrokeshire Youth Justice Team in Wales (which involved piloting a Youth Justice Evaluation Inventory that was designed in collaboration with YJB Cymru who also funded the evaluation), researchers from the University of Southampton and Swansea University found evidence of best practice in most of the following areas, and the researchers recommend that other Teams should adopt these practices.

Youth justice practice | Policy Brief
Kenya Policy Brief
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The Kenyan Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme: Understanding the impact and experiences

The Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme (OPCTP), part of the Kenya National Safety Net Programme, is a central element of Kenya’s response to a growing population of older people, many of whom are entering later life without a secure source of income.

The aim of the targeted OPCTP has been to guarantee a basic income for the most vulnerable and poorest Kenyans aged 65 years or older. Our research, using nationally representative household survey data and a detailed case study of two informal settlements in Nairobi, examines the impact of the OPCTP on a number of dimensions of poverty and well-being among older beneficiaries and their families, including intergenerational solidarity within their kin networks and broader relations within their communities.

Kenyan Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme | Policy Brief
Preconception Health
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Preconception Health

A new series of papers ‘ Preconception Health’ published by our team in The Lancet on April 16 makes the case for both women and men to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle before trying for a baby.

Mothers’ obesity or under-nutrition and similar factors in fathers can adversely affect the eggs, sperm and embryos with enduring consequences, increasing long-term cardio-metabolic and non-communicable disease risk in offspring. Pre-conception care and preparation for pregnancy is the right strategy for health of the nation across generations.

Improving nutritional preparation for pregnancy

Many men and women of reproductive age, in both high income (HIC) and low-and-middle income countries (LMIC) are not well-prepared for pregnancy in terms of nutrition. Lifecourse research pin-points investment in the pre-conception period as critical for long-term health across generations. Though we now know that pregnancy planning is more common that was thought, opportunities to invest in health before conception - a key time-point – have been overlooked. Collectively, the Lancet series points to a new emphasis on preparing for conception as a way of preventing disease and improving public health.


Preconception Health | Policy Brief
Diverse banking system
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Preserving a Diverse Banking System

Regulations intended to reduce the risk of bank bailouts following the financial crisis of 2007-09 are leading to a consolidation in the global banking sector, which is becoming less diverse. This consolidation process is also driven by the need to achieve cost containment, deleveraging, and restructuring. This lack of diversity is a serious risk – a homogeneous banking sector is more vulnerable to a systemic risk of collapse than a healthy diversified one.

These new regulations may reduce the risk of bank bankruptcies, and can lead to more capital and liquidity-efficient business models and products. However, they are likely to harm smaller banks, and some jurisdictions are advocating the aggregation of small banks, particularly cooperative banks, to reduce the associated risks. However, small banks play a major role in lending to SMEs, which larger banks are less likely to do. Reducing or removing small and local banks may harm this key element of the economy as well as reducing diversity in the banking sector as a whole.

Preserving a Diverse Banking System | Policy Brief
Social media platforms
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Contemporary Forms of Racism and Bigotry on Social Media Platforms

The United Nations Human Rights Council in its latest report on contemporary forms of racism and related intolerance has classified racism on the internet and social media as a growing international concern. In Brazil, 58.3% of the population are active users of Facebook, spending an average of 3:43 hours per day on the social media platform. There has been a growing number of reported cases of racism on Facebook in Brazil (11,090 in 2014), raising concerns amongst civil society at large and, especially, within the Black community. Such racist discourses on Facebook can affect not only the person subject to the derogatory content but also his/her immediate family members, and the Black community as a whole.

Racism and Bigotry on Social Media | Policy Brief
Social media platforms
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Contemporary Forms of Racism and Bigotry on Social Media Platforms

The United Nations Human Rights Council in its latest report on contemporary forms of racism and related intolerance has classified racism on the internet and social media as a growing international concern. Different nations (such as the UK, Germany, Italy, and France) have been demanding the corporations behind the major social media platforms do more to tackle this phenomenon. Such
racism, bigotry and hate speech on Facebook can bring a heavy psychological burden to those targeted and to their families. They can affect people’s level of self-esteem; undermine their level of self-confidence; and challenging their sense of belonging and national identity. Moreover, in certain circumstances, it can even lead towards physical violence. As large social media platforms such as Facebook
have become an increasingly ubiquitous presence in people’s lives across the globe, this study examines how racist views are being created and disseminated across such platforms, and how to tackle the problem.



Racism and Bigotry on Social Media | Policy Brief
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Evaluation of Pact's Supporting Young Parents in Prison Project

The Supporting Young Fathers in Prison (SYFP) project is delivered by Pact Cymru in prisons across Wales. The project advocates on behalf of young fathers in prison and their families. It brokers relevant services, provides therapeutic support, facilitates parenting efficacy, supports efforts to build relationships, and strengthens family ties.

PACT| Policy Brief
GPS with care
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Improving provision of GPS 'location' technologies and technical support for people with dementia and their family carers

The Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020 Implementation Plan aims to make England, by 2020, the best country in the world for dementia care, support, research and awareness. A key objective is to enhance the quality of life for citizens with dementia living at home, which involves the police, as well as care services. Research at the University of Southampton shows that the use of GPS ‘location’ technologies enables a person with a dementia to get and out about independently and increases social contact. GPS ‘location’ technologies also provide potentially valuable data on a person’s walking activities and whereabouts, which family carers and the police can use in an emergency.


GPS with Care | Policy Brief

Quick reference guide to recent Policy Briefs


Theme Project Title Princicple Investigator Project Completetion Policy Brief Project website
Employment Rethinking EU equality law

Dr Benedi Lahuerta (PI University of Southampton)

DR Ania Zbyszewska (CO University of Warwick)

October 2017 Click here Click here
Environment The rapidly changing Arctic environment

Dr Emma Wiik (PI Bangor University)

Prof Sheldon Bacon (CI University of Southampton)

August 2017 Click here N/A
Health Recontacting patients when new genomic findings come to light

Prof Susan Kelly (PI University of Exeter)

Dr Sandi Dheensa (PI University of Southampton)

July 2017 Click here N/A
Employment Employers, the right to request flexible working and older workers Dr Jane Parry March 2017 Click here Click here
Homelessness Improving housing options through effective psychological support for homeless people Dr Nick Maguire February 2017 Click here N/A
Children & Young People Making Child Protection 'Child-Centred' - Lessons from Childline Dr Eve Colpus January 2017 Click here Click here
Environment Sustainable rice cultivation in the Mekong Delta Professor Steve Darby January 2017 Click here Click here
Health Beyond 'Breast is best' Professor Elselijn Kingma August 2016 Click here N/A
Politics Citizen's Assembly Professor Will Jennings July 2016 Click here Click here
Health Employee Led Innovation in Healthcare Professor Susan Halford July 2016 Click here Click here
Health Together at the End of Life Dr Aliki Karapligkou July 2016 Click here N/A
Health Preventing Mental Illness Professor David Kingdon June 2016 Click here N/A
Politics The rise of Anti-Politics Professor Will Jennings April 2016 Click here Click here
Justice Penal Policymaking: A collaborative symposium Dr Harry Annison April 2016 1, 2, 3 Click here
Migration How (not) to predict migration Dr Jakub Bijak December 2015 Click here Click here
Environment Managing Water Demand Dr Mirco Tonin & Dr Carmine Ornaghi September 2015 Click here Click here
Gender Equality Gender Equality at Work Professor Susan Halford June 2014 Click here Click here
Researchers at work

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