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Social action and criminal justice

UAL uses design research to address issues in the criminal justice system and help people to solve problems and improve their lives.

Over 20 years, UAL’s design researchers have built relationships and delivered initiatives with a range of stakeholders including community groups, government and criminologists.

Learn about the award-winning Design Against Crime Research Centre and read highlights and insights from projects across UAL.

A group of people wearing anti-theft bags
Caption Young people with anti-theft bags by Design Against Crime Research Centre, photographed by Tom Willcocks


  • A wooden chair with a bag hanging under it from the seat
    “Stop thief” chair by Design Against Crime (1999), Design Against Crime Research Centre
    Anti-theft chair and bike rack designs  

    Researchers from Design Against Crime Research Centre used insights from how people carry out crime to design a new chair and bike racks which have been installed in many settings.

  • Making for Change Downview workshop
    Making for Change Downview workshop
    Preparing women prisoners for life after release

    London College of Fashion’s Making for Change initiative helps women in prison and the community hands-on fashion manufacturing skills and industry-recognised qualifications.

  • A man working in a chair workshop outside
    The Makeright programme in Ahmedabab, by Design Against Crime Research Centre
    New skills for prisoners in UK and India

    Design Against Crime Research Centre's Prison Industries project empowered prisoners and helped them learn skills in improved communication, collaboration, systemic reasoning and empathy.

  • Photo of stabbing location, with a bicycle, graffiti, and phone boxes.
    Young Blood. Image © Dhanesh Vaid
    Engaging public in social justice

    London College of Communication’s Visible Justice project and exhibition brought together external specialists with a shared interest in media, communications and restorative justice and knife crime.


At the heart of what the Design Against Crime Research Centre does is democratic crime prevention by design. This is why we adopt a participatory social design approach. We involve many people in generating solutions that can provide answers to crime problems. This is democratic crime prevention rather than top down social control.

Professor Lorraine Gamman, Director, Design Against Crime Research Centre
'Making for Change’ creates a space where fashion students, designers, businesses, female prisoners and local community can learn, share and create together. It can unlock potential, nurture talent,  build self-esteem and  self-confidence and provide the support needed to prepare women for life after release.

— Claire Swift , Director of Social Responsibility, London College of Fashion


Read all publications

More themes

  • Exterior of Make space with people on ladders
    Make @ Story Garden (photo: Adam Razvi)
    Value and valuation through design

    Exploring how value is created and understood through design and use.

  • Woman reading London underground map
    Braille tube map by Ziyue Wang, photographed by David Poultney
    Systems and design

    Improving the ways in which designers can develop a better understanding of the contexts they design for and in.

  • People sat around a blackboard
    Make @ Story Garden (photo: Adam Razvi)
    Policy contexts and implications

    Developing a better understanding of policymaking, design and public policy.

  • Three images of model wearing various materials
    Image courtesy of UAL
    Circular design

    Circular design aims to support people and planet through emerging technology, systems design, new materials, social innovation and more.

  • A person holding a flower pot made out of seaweed
    Seaweed flower pots by Diana Tso
    Design for sustainability

    Find out about how our researchers are using design to build up knowledge and develop new approaches on how to address the challenges of sustainability.

  • Farmers having a discussion in a workshop
    A co-design session with dairy farmers, image courtesy of Alison Prendiville
    Health and wellbeing

    Working with external partners in the life and medical sciences to produce insights and new, actionable ideas, based on people’s lived experiences.

  • People at a flower market
    Columbia Road Flower Market by Jo Mansfield
    Place and community

    Researchers at UAL use design to engage, inspire and support communities and places.

  • Student at a grad show
    Image courtesy of UAL
    Public and social innovation

    UAL researchers use approaches from design to intervene in public sector, government and social innovation contexts.