Dr Philip Henry BA PhD, Director of the Multi-Faith Centre

Phil Henry brings significant frontline policing experience to the Institute through his role as Director of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby.

For 18 of the 20 years that Phil spent with Nottinghamshire Constabulary, he was part of the CID, where he rose to the rank of Detective. As part of the former Regional Crime Squad (now known as the National Crime Agency), he was involved in surveillance training and worked as a rural surveillance officer.

Academic background

An injury forced Phil to leave the police service, which led him to study for a joint honours degree at the University of Derby; his major subjects were society, religion and belief, with creative writing as the minor element.

He went on to study for his PhD at the University of Liverpool, during which time he maintained his links with Derby by supervising PhD students and supporting the MA programmes, which he did for 10 years.

Phil and a colleague were subsequently given the opportunity to develop the first criminology modules, which drew on Phil’s experiences as a former police officer. He became embedded in the Sociology department where he pursued his main interest in sociology: deviance and difference, and identity studies.

His PhD studied Buddhist social movements, which included Buddhist activism in the UK. A book based on his thesis was published in 2013 and the paperback edition followed in early 2015.

Role at the Multi-Faith Centre

In his role as the Director of the Multi-Faith Centre (MFC) — an independent charity and company, with the University of Derby as the main stakeholder — his remit is threefold:

  1. Support the development of community links through the University
  2. Develop and promote cross-cultural understanding within the city
  3. Provide a physical space for religious meditation and contemplation, and space for prayers for both staff and students. 

The MFC also offers training facilities and Phil runs a number of training courses, many of which explore the interrelationships between religion, belief and culture, and how these elements relate to government policy, which is implemented nationally and locally. 

Preventing radicalisation and trafficking

Part of Phil’s role is the delivery of Prevent training in the county for the police across Derbyshire and the East Midlands. Prevent is the UK Government’s initiative designed to divert people from all forms of extremism and terrorism.

He has also developed a Level 4 programme, which includes a module about working with radicalisation for frontline staff. He is also developing a postgraduate certificate that will run alongside the programme.

Phil also studied broader aspects of identity, which led him into migration studies. Part of his work with the MFC led to the foundation of Roma Community Care — an organisation offering advocacy support across the city.

As a result of the work with the Roma community, Phil collaborated with Derbyshire Constabulary and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), on a number of anti-trafficking operations, which led to the formation of the Derby and Derbyshire Anti-Trafficking Partnership. This brought about the conviction of a number of people-traffickers in Derby and as a result of interventions by Roma Community Care, there were additional successful convictions.

Derbyshire is at the forefront of developing anti-trafficking partnerships in the UK, and the Institute, which the work of the MFC feeds into, will play an increasingly important role in both the academic study of forced labour and in developing appropriate responses (for police services and government agencies) that can be applied around the world.

External projects and research 

In addition to the supervision of PhD students, Phil spends the majority of his time doing external work, which includes:

  • research in the areas of radicalisation, migration and identity studies/politics
  • supporting projects within the Youth Justice System
  • arranging mentoring for young offenders from central and eastern European backgrounds
  • developing training responses for Hate Crime perpetrators.

In addition, there are practical roles associated with:

  • youth and community work
  • projects in relation to victimhood in Roma populations, including exploitation and human trafficking/modern day slavery
  • working with partners in city and county councils and the police in relation to strategic responses to these issues, and
  • research.

Phil also develops new Institute publications and is involved in various support roles on campus.

Role at the Institute 

He is in the process of re-starting the Level 4 Understanding Radicalisation Improving Practice module and the postgraduate certificate that is aligned to that.

The Level 4 courses attracted Home Office funding because they are aimed at those in the police service and they are CPD accredited. The courses were very well received and were very well attended by officers from the five East Midlands constabularies, with significant numbers from the West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit.

The Postgraduate Level 7 Certificate is also stand-alone, but will become part of the postgraduate degree in security. 

Views on the Institute

Phil believes that one of the main selling points of the Institute is that their research and applied studies will be relevant to current and future police officers, which will feed into the on-going professionalisation of the police.

With its close links to the MFC, the Institute will be able to help develop strategies and influence policies that address and help to break down cultural barriers. The result will be invaluable insights into the beliefs, attitudes and behaviour patterns of those from minority or isolated communities.

Portrait of Dr Phil Henry, Director of the Multi-Faith Centre As a result of the work with the Roma community, Phil collaborated with Derbyshire Constabulary and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), on a number of anti-trafficking operations, which led to the formation of the Derby and Derbyshire Anti-Trafficking Partnership. This brought about the conviction of a number of people-traffickers in Derby and as a result of interventions by Roma Community Care, there were additional successful convictions.