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Institute of Criminology


The Institute is very sad to report the death of Professor Donald West, MD, LittD, FRCPsych, who died 31st January, 2020, age 95. Professor West spent most of his academic career at the Institute of Criminology although he originally trained as a psychiatrist. His work covered Clinical Criminology, Parapsychology, and Psychology. The famous Cambridge longitudinal Delinquency Study was originally directed by Donald West, with Professor David Farrington becoming the Director of the study in 1969.

Donald was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, and then Liverpool University. He is particularly known for an influential Penguin book ‘Homosexuality’ (published in 1955), in which he argues for tolerance and law reform. Donald authored many subsequent articles and books advocating more humane criminal justice approaches regarding sex offences and for child and adolescent victims.  He was Research Officer and sometime President of the Society for Psychical Research.   In 2015 he spoke on Portillo’s BBC TV commentary on the UK’s last witchcraft trial which he had attended and reviewed in 1944.


Professor West retired from the Institute in 1984, after a short period as Director, but he came to the Nigel Walker seminars each year when he could, and otherwise kept in touch with a small number of Institute staff and alumni.


Books he authored include:

  • Psychical Research Today (revised ed.) (1962)
  • Eleven Lourdes Miracles (1957)
  • The Habitual Prisoner (1963) 
  • Murder Followed by Suicide (1965)
  • The Young Offender (1967)
  • Present Conduct and Future Delinquency (1969)
  • Who Becomes Delinquent (1973) (With D.P. Farrington)
  • The Delinquent Way of Life (1977) (with D.P. Farrington)
  • Delinquency, Its Roots, Careers and Prospects (1982)
  • Sexual Crimes and Confrontations (1987)
  • Children’s Sexual Encounters with Adults (1990) (with C.K.Li and T.P. Woodhouse)
  • Male Prostitution (1992)
  • Socio-legal Control of Homosexuality; A Multi-Nation Comparison (1997) ((Edited with R Green) 
  • Gay Life, Straight Work (2010)

Professor West made very significant contributions to Criminology as a discipline, and to the Institute of Criminology, and we are very sad to note his passing.


Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe, Director, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge