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Jessica Cleary


My PhD Project

I am an Economic and Social Research Council funded part time PhD Student in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Stirling.

My thesis, which is supervised by Professor Margaret Malloch and Dr Hannah Graham, examines criminal justice policies, practices and services both imposed on and offered to women with convictions in Scotland. This project aims to provide a robust overview of how the justice sector currently tailors service provision for women beyond the prison, as well as potentially identifying any social, political or operational issues which impact this sector. To do this, the study brings together secondary analysis of key Scottish policies and official discourse; and primary interviews with a wide range of stakeholders within the community justice sector throughout Scotland.

This exploration into the intersectionality of gender, supporting desistance from crime and community based justice support is an area of growing popularity in both policy and academia. Especially within the current emerging landscape of changing Criminal Justice strategies for women and the national restructuring of Community Justice provision this project will not only be relevant for Scotland’s front-line provisions for women, but also for international policies and practices which seek to better support women with convictions. This project will also make noteworthy contributions to the academic development of gender-informed justice scholarship and what is understood by ‘community justice’.

If you would like to be involved in this project or hear more about its progress please get in touch via the links below.


My work with AFA Scotland

Alongside my PhD, I work part time for the Adoption and Fostering Alliance Scotland, as a researcher and change implementation lead. AFA Scotland is an independent charitable organisation dedicated to improving outcomes for children in care across Scotland.

In my role as Promise Implementation Led I am currently leading the organisation-wide change programme AFA Scotland is undertaking following the launch of the Promise – the findings from the Independent Care Review which demands a radical overhaul of Scotland’s ‘care system’ for children and their families.

In my role as researcher I also support a profile of research projects AFA Scotland undertakes in partnership with the Scottish Government and universities across the UK. In addition to research related activities I also provide updates on current research for practitioners and other key stakeholders across Scotland in this sector at AFA Scotland’s forums to enhance the impact of research in practice.


My Research Interests include:

Women and Crime; Gender Responsive Justice; Social Work Practices; Co-production; Meaningful Inclusion; Institutional Cultures; Qualitative Social Research; Community Justice; Change Management; Intersectional Feminism; Utopian Thinking; and Criminal Abolitionism