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Sheffield Hallam University researchers are conducting a study to gauge public attitudes to criminal offenders and substance users.

The online survey is aiming to establish how much 'social distance' people feel they need from those in different stages of recovery from drug and alcohol use, and different categories of moving away from criminal offending.

Social distance is categorised by measures such as how willing you would be for a person to marry into your family or have as a work colleague.

The research team is now calling for participants from across the country to take part in the anonymous survey to establish a UK-wide general public sample.

Professor David Best, head of criminology at Sheffield Hallam's Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, and one of the world's foremost authorities on addiction and recovery, is leading the research, which is expected to report its full findings this summer.

Professor Best said: "This study will provide an objective look at the general public's attitudes to those most commonly stigmatised in our society, and whether people's attempts at overcoming crime and drug using lifestyles influence how they are seen by the general public.

"We want to use this research to reach a better understanding of how stigma can affect different groups of people in different contexts - so we would urge people to take part and share their opinions, however strong they may or may not be.

Professor David Best

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"Participants may also find the study interesting as it will highlight their own preferred social distance from people with a variety of problems, which they may not previously have been aware of.

"It will highlight any negative stigma the participant may have towards these social groups, and possibly highlight their willingness to facilitate these groups in their everyday life."

Click here to take part in the study: Stigma and social distance: General public attitudes to offenders and substance users active, in desistance or in recovery.

For press information: Please contact Martin Webb in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email