Dr Gilly Sharpe

School of Law

Lecturer in Criminology

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+44 114 222 6079

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Dr Gilly Sharpe
School of Law
Bartolomé House
Winter Street
S3 7ND

After studying Modern Languages as an undergraduate, I managed a voluntary sector project for ‘disadvantaged’ young people and adults with disabilities in Oxford for two years.

I then completed an MSc in Applied Social Sciences and a Diploma in Social Work at the University of Oxford, before embarking on a brief career as a social worker in a youth offending team.

This was followed by research posts at the University of Oxford (as part of the team evaluating Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programmes for young offenders) and at Dartington Social Research Unit in Devon.

In 2004 I was awarded an ESRC scholarship to undertake doctoral research at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge.

My PhD examined young women and youth justice, and involved empirical research in two Youth Offending Teams and a Secure Training Centre. I joined the School of Law as a Lecturer in Criminology in 2008.

  • PhD, University of Cambridge
  • MSc, Applied Social Studies and Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), University of Oxford
  • MA Modern Languages, University of Cambridge
Research interests

My research interests centre on the intersections of criminal and social justice, in particular the extent to which criminal and youth justice policies and interventions, as well as welfare policies, often fail, in spite of their good intentions, to advance justice or ameliorate the life circumstances of poor, marginalised and vulnerable groups.

My current research focuses on two areas. The first of these is youth justice policy and practice - in particular the assessment, criminalisation and penal governance of young women - and the second concerns (ex-) offenders' experiences of life after punishment and their transitions into adulthood.

Previous empirical research has focused on desistance from crime amongst men and women previously on probation, the community supervision of women lawbreakers, housing provision and social support for women ex-prisoners and their dependent children, domestic violence advocacy, and the supervision and surveillance of persistent and serious young offenders.

I am experienced in qualitative research methodologies and in conducting research with vulnerable groups.

My first monograph, Offending Girls: Young Women and Youth Justice, was published by Routledge in 2012.

I recently re-interviewed, eight years on, the majority of the ‘offending girls’ who were the subjects of the monograph, all of whom are now in their early-to-mid 20s.

Member of the Centre for Criminological Research Cluster.



Journal articles



  • Sharpe GH & Gelsthorpe L (2010) The Re-Unite Project Early Development Phase: Evaluation Report RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

I would be interested to hear from prospective research students in the areas of youth justice, the punishment of, and provision for, women who offend, and desistance from crime.


Title/Description: Tracking Progress on Probation: Long-term patterns of desistance and reform

  • Awarding Body: Leverhulme Trust
  • People Involved: Professor Stephen Farrall and Dr Ben Hunter
  • Dates: February 2010 - March 2013
  • Amount: £191,346

Title/Description: Re-Unite Project Evaluation

  • Awarding Body: Commonweal Housing
  • People Involved: Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe, University of Cambridge
  • Dates: 2008 - 2010

Title/Description: Provision for Women Offenders in the Community

  • Awarding Body: Nuffield Foundation
  • People Involved: Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe, University of Cambridge
  • Dates: 2006 - 2007
Teaching interests

All of my teaching areas coincide with my research interests, as well as my current and previous experience of both research and practice.

My seminar teaching includes examples of ‘real life’ cases, issues and dilemmas, and is informed by theoretical, policy and practice knowledge in youth and criminal justice, particularly concerning women and girls.

Teaching activities

The modules I teach are:


  • Youth Crime and Justice (Convenor)
  • Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice
  • Punishment and Penal Policy


  • Methods of Criminological Research (Convenor)
Professional activities and memberships
  • I am a member of the British Society of Criminology, the European Society of Criminology, and the National Association of Youth Justice.
  • I am a member of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Research Advisory Group.

Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • Sharpe, G. (2014) ‘Re-Imagining Justice for Girls.’ Newcastle Law School, Newcastle University, 19th February
  • Sharpe, G. (2013) ‘Doing Justice to Girls?’ British Society of Criminology Wales branch, Bangor, 8th May.