Mr Piers Von Berg
Lecturer in Law
School of Law, Criminology and Government (Faculty of Business)
Lecturer in Law
Barrister in Law, called to the Bar at Gray's Inn, 2009
Door tenant (non-practising barrister), 36 Group (Chambers of William Harbage QC and Richard Wilson QC)
I specialise in youth justice, citizenship and civic education. I am interested in the lived experience of young people and how they exercise their rights. This arises from working with young people in various contexts over the past 15 years from marginalised communities in Azerbaijan and Central Asia, to representing them in the family and criminal courts in UK.
1. In youth justice, I take a multidisciplinary approach, using public and criminal law and policy, to desk-based research of the treatment of child suspects and defendants in the youth justice system.
I recently completed an investigation into police practice on the questioning of child suspects in police custody with Dr Kate Gooch at the University of Leicester (publication currently under review). The study has identified significant gaps and shortcomings affecting the quality of evidence obtained and the treatment of children generally.
I organised a symposium in November 2018 on the obstacles and opportunities to obtaining best evidence from child suspects in police custody. Leading researchers in the fields of law, psychology and policing from the UK and Belgium as well as lawyers and police from Devon attended. A report on the research presented and ideas discussed can be found here https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/institutes/social-policy-enterprise/listening-to-children-in-trouble-with-the-law.
Upcoming events: I am chairing a panel on 'Safeguarding and Suspects' and presenting a paper on the right to a fair trial for vulnerable suspects in police interviews at the Vulnerability, Justice and Communication conference (http://www2.port.ac.uk/centre-of-forensic-interviewing/conferences/).
2. In citizenship and civic education, I take an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on sociology, psychology and political science, to investigate young people’s experience of citizenship using qualitative and participatory methodologies. I am interested in using research to inform pedagogical innovation using methodologies and approaches such as critical reflection (Mezirow 1990, 1991) and forum theatre (Boal 2002).
As part of a Doctorate in Education (EdD), I have completed two studies into the formation of agency and identity among undergraduate law students. The presentations and abstracts are available on my Academia.edu page. I presented the second larger study at the 12th Annual International Conference on Education and Democratic Citizenship, Institute of Education, UCL in June 2018 and at the Higher Education Close Up Conference in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2018. I am now in the final thesis stage where I am investigating pedagogical interventions to help young people explore citizenship.
Upcoming events: I am presenting my research on the formation of civic identities at an internal research seminar at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham on 13 March.
I am completing a Doctorate in Education at the Institute of Education, UCL. My research focuses on the experience of citizenship among undergraduate students and what pedagogical innovations can help foster citizenship education at a UK university.
Grants & contracts
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, June 2005, Project Manager at IFES Azerbaijan (technical assistance project to municipalities in Azerbaijan)
Creative practice & artistic projects
I have completed Masters' classes in Forum Theatre with Cardboard Citizens. I am interested in ways in which this can be incorporated into pedagogical practice.
Von Berg, P and Rich, B. (2017). ‘One strike and you are out? Judicial review of criminal matters and interpretation of the procedural rule on ‘totally without merit’ applications’, Criminal Law Review, 6.
Von Berg, P (2013). ‘Children’s evidence and new EU Directives’, Archbold Review, Issue 3, April 12, 2013.
Von Berg, P (ed) (2014). Criminal Judicial Review. London: Hart Publishing.
Chapters in edited collections:
Von Berg, P (2018). ‘Civic Education at Higher Education: Lessons from Azerbaijan’ in Hazeldine, G, Morgan, D and Salem, A (eds.), Higher Education in Post-Communist States: Sociological Perspectives. Stuttgart: Ibidem.
Von Berg, P. (2014). ‘Children, Young Persons and Juveniles’, ‘Remedies’ (with Ball, D), ‘The Police’ (with Taylor, R), ‘Magistrates’ Courts’ (with Parkes, S) in von Berg, P (ed) Criminal Judicial Review. London: Hart Publishing.
Von Berg, P (2004). ‘Civic Education and Young People in Azerbaijan: results and implications’, in Papoutsaki, V and Zurabishvili, T (eds), Caucasus Higher Education in Transition. Tbilisi: Civic Education Project, Caucasus.
Von Berg, P (2002). ‘A Question of Method: Challenges of Teaching in Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan’, in Salem, A (ed), A Question of Method: teaching social sciences at post-soviet universities. Budapest and Washington DC: Civic Education Project.
Von Berg, P. (2013). ‘Disclosure of Criminal Records’, The Justice Gap. Available from: http://thejusticegap.com/2013/05/disclosure-of-criminal-records/
Von Berg, P. (2010). ‘Unlawful detention by Magistrates’ Courts – a test case in waiting?’ JD Supra. Available from: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/unlawful-detention-by-magistrates-courts-68389/
Conference papers and unpublished manuscripts see - https://plymouth.academia.edu/PiersvonBerg
Reports & invited lectures
Invited speaker with Dr Kate Gooch, Re-thinking Youth Justice, British Society of Criminology, University of Leicester, 25 April 2017. Paper: 'Re-thinking children in police custody'.