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Institute of Criminology



Dr Alexandra Wigzell

Ali’s research interests include youth justice, the professional relationship, community supervision, and desistance from offending. In October 2021, Ali began a three-year early career fellowship entitled ‘A space for love? The ethics of care in youth justice’, which is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and Isaac Newton Trust. The project will examine the contours of care and its ethical dimensions in the youth justice (child – worker) professional relationship, through an ethnographic and participatory approach. A particular interest is in the place and nature of ‘mutuality in caring’ in such relations, a topic that has received scarce attention in the criminal justice literature but is an emerging area of scholarship across youth work, social work and psychotherapy.

The study will employ care ethics, a strand of moral philosophy, which prioritises caring relations and an appreciation of context in decision-making, but simultaneously advocates the ‘moral scrutiny’ and evaluation of ‘care’. In applying the lens of care ethics to youth justice for the first time, Ali hopes to deepen understanding of caring relations, their ethical complexities and effects in this involuntary context, especially the place and character of mutuality in caring. In doing so, the project intends to deepen insight into the moral terrain of the youth justice realm, and the relationship between care, well-being and desistance.


Ali’s current project was inspired by her PhD research, which explored the nature of youth offending service supervision with a focus on the supervisory relationship. Her research involved participant observation, in-depth interviews with 72 practitioners and children, and the ‘following’ of a cohort of 11 supervised children, over a 17-month period in two English youth offending services. Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe supervised Ali's research.

Ali also teaches and supervises graduate and undergraduate students.

Prior to and alongside her PhD, Ali worked as a Research Fellow and Associate Lecturer at the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR), Birkbeck, University of London. She remains an Associate Research Fellow there. Before joining the ICPR, Ali was a Senior Researcher at the Westminster think-tank the Centre for Social Justice.

Ali is a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College. In January 2021, she became Book Review Editor at the international journal Criminology and Criminal Justice. In addition, she is currently a Trustee of the National Association for Youth Justice and an Advisory Board Member of Peer Power UK. She chaired the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (now the Alliance for Youth Justice) from 2016-2019, and remains an alliance member.



Key publications: 



Bateman, T. and Wigzell, A. (2019) Exploring recent trends in youth justice reconvictions: challenging the complexity thesis’, Youth Justice, Advance Online Publication,


Bateman, T., Goodfellow, P., Little, R., and Wigzell, A. (Eds) (2017) Child-friendly youth justice? A compendium of papers given at the University of Cambridge in September 2017, National Association of Youth Justice, Retrieved from:


Wigzell, A. and Stanley, C. (2015) ‘The Youth Court: Time for Reform?’, in M. Wasik and S.Sotirios (eds) The Management of Change in Criminal Justice: Who Knows Best?, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Wigzell, A. (2014) ‘Moving Beyond the ASBO? A review of the proposed anti-social behaviour measures and their implications for children’, Safer Communities, 13 (2), 73-82.

Wigzell, A. (2021) Explaining desistance: looking forward, not backwards, National Association for Youth Justice, Retrieved from:


Policy research


Wigzell, A., Kirby, A., and Jacobson, J. (2015) The Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review: Final Report, London: Bar Standards Board.


Wigzell, A. and Hough, M. (2015) The NOMS RJ Capacity Building Programme: participant and implementation experiences, London: ICPR.


Hunter, G. ,Wigzell, A., May, T., and Hough M. (2015) An Evaluation of the ‘What Works Centre for Crime Reduction’ Year 1: Baseline, London: ICPR.


Carlile, A. (Drafted by Wigzell. A.) (2014) Independent Parliamentarians’ Inquiry into the Operation and Effectiveness of the Youth Court, London: National Children’s Bureau.


Wigzell, A. (2012) Rules of Engagement: changing the heart of youth justice, London: Centre for Social Justice.



Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College
Dr Alexandra  Wigzell


Wolfson College