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Institute of Criminology



Loraine Gelsthorpe is an Emeritus Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge.  She is also a Fellow at Pembroke College.   In addition to the above roles, Loraine sits on various University Committees including the General Board Education Committee and the Board of Graduate Studies (from 1 October 2020, the BGS will be replaced by the University Post-Graduate Research Committee, and Loraine will be Chair of this committee).  Loraine was Director of the Institute from 2017-2022. Loraine has wide interests in the links between criminal justice and social justice, looking at race, gender and social exclusion, women and sentencing, and women, crime and criminal justice more generally.  Her research includes a focus on the effectiveness of youth and community penalties and on pre-sentence reports.  She also has a strong interest in research methodologies and research ethics; human trafficking and the criminalisation of migrants.

Loraine has lived in Cambridge since the early 1980s when she came to do an MPhil in Criminology, though the call of a PhD was stronger than a return to a social work career.  After the PhD she had a number of post-doc appointments at Lancaster, UCNW (Bangor) and at the LSE, which involved work with the Metropolitan Police and London boroughs on diversion from prosecution; men's prisons in the Midlands; and race and gender issues in pre-sentence reports respectively.  She began working for the University of Cambridge in 1991.  Professor Gelsthorpe sits on various government Advisory Committees (including HM Chief Inspector of Probation’s Advisory Committee) and is one of two Deputy Chairs of the 2021 REF exercise (Social Policy/Social Work sub-panel 20).  She was President of the British Society of Criminology 2011 - 2015.  With Professor Michele Burman (University of Glasgow) she chairs the European Society of Criminology's Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice Working Group.

Professor Gelsthorpe is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was an 11+ failure and increasingly sees a need to speak out about this - to encourage others whose own routes in higher education may not be traditional. Loraine is a psychoanalytical psychotherapist in her 'spare time', and a trustee of Pembroke House, a community centre in Walworth, South London.


Research Interests and Topics (for prospective students)

Professor Gelsthorpe is happy to discuss the following possibilities:

  • What works with women offenders?
  • Pre-sentence reports: old and new; their content, value and use
  • The supervision of offenders in the community
  • Resettlement issues in the community
  • The criminalisation of migrants
  • Diversion from the court
  • Deaths under criminal justice supervision in the community
  • Human trafficking issues
  • Decision-making in the criminal justice system
  • The development of criminal justice policy since the 1950s
  • Deaths under community supervision
  • Any other topic broadly relating to Community, Gender and Social Justice

Past and Current Research

Professor Gelsthorpe has carried out a number of research studies since the mid-1980s, including work on police decision-making with regard to juvenile offenders; the operation of multi-agency juvenile panels; the role of the Crown Prosecution Service in juvenile justice; gender issues in youth justice; the theory, policy and practice of attendance centres; the treatment of fine defaulters in magistrates’ courts; and race and gender issues in social inquiry reports.  She has also conducted work on Home Office-funded projects on inter-agency aspects of crime prevention strategies, on pre-sentence reports, on the sentencing of women and on community service orders (now known as unpaid work) as a requirement of a Community Order.

Current research interests revolve around notions of criminal and social justice in sentencing; women and criminal justice; the development of criminological and social theories in their social and political context since 1945; community penalties (including deaths under community supervision); and social exclusion, crime and justice.  Empirical work includes a focus on resettlement issues for women – particularly those connected to housing – aspects of trauma experienced by both women in conflict with the law, and staff who work with them, as well as what works for women in conflict with the law.  Loraine maintains a strong interest in methodological issues (particularly ethical and psychoanalytical dimensions of the research process). 


Key publications: 

Professor Gelsthorpe's publications include several books, the most recent of which are:

She has also published over 200 journal articles, book chapters and reports, some of which are listed below:

Emeritus Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Director of the Centre for Community, Gender and Social Justice (based in the Institute).
Director of the Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership (within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences).
Chair of the Advisory Committee, Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement
Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement (a multi-disciplinary university centre, hosted by the Institute of Criminology). [2017 - October 2020]
Fellow of Pembroke College.
Professor Loraine   Gelsthorpe


Pembroke College