Photo of Dr Gilly Sharpe

Dr Gilly Sharpe

Position: Lecturer in Criminology
Email Address:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 6079

Academic Profile

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

Teaching and Learning

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.

The modules I teach are:

Undergraduate  Postgraduate
Youth Crime and Justice (Convenor) Methods of Criminological Research (Convenor)
Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice
Punishment and Penal Policy

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.

Areas of Research Supervision

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.

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.

Key Projects/Grants

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

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • 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.

Key Publications


  • Farrall S, Hunter B, Sharpe GH & Calverley A (2014) Criminal Careers in Transition: The Social Context of Desistance from Crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Sharpe GH (2011) Offending Girls: Young Women and Youth Justice. Abingdon: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Sharpe GH & Gelsthorpe L (2015) Girls, Crime and Justice In Goldson B & Muncie J (Ed.), Youth Crime and Justice Sage RIS download Bibtex download