Prof Richard Sparks

Associate Director, SCCJR

Professor of Criminology

University of Edinburgh


Pronouns: He/Him

Richard Sparks, a founding co-director of SCCJR, is Professor of Criminology at the University of Edinburgh. He was formerly Professor of Criminology at Keele University and in his early career also worked at the Open University and the University of Cambridge.

Richard’s research concerns relationships between crime control, especially penal policies, and democratic politics. I am involved in debates in the sociology of punishment; public responses to crime and punishment; and the uses of criminological knowledge in shaping public discourse and policy on crime and punishment.

Much of his work has concerned prisons, and especially legitimation problems with respect to power and control in prisons, in the Uk and internationally. My other main interest – and focus of my current work – is on questions of everyday security in twenty-first century Britain. This is the subject of an ESRC-funded study, in collaboration with Evi Girling, Ian Loader, Ben Bradford, Gosia Polanska and Ryan Casey:

He interested in comparative and international dimensions of all these questions. Maximo Sozzo (UNL, Argentina) and I have started an online monthly workshop, co-hosted by SCCJR and UNL to discuss questions of penal policy and politics across global North/South boundaries:


Relevant publications

Richard Sparks (2020) Crime and justice research: The current landscape and future possibilities, Criminology and Criminal Justice DOI:

Richard Sparks (2019) Beyond the rendez-vous: Criminology, critique, connection DOI:

Richard Sparks and James Gacek (2019) Persistent puzzles: The philosophy and ethics of private corrections in the context of contemporary penality Criminology and Public Policy, vol. 18, pp. 379-399 DOI:


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Phone Number:
0131 6502009

University of Edinburgh

School of Law,
Old College,
University of Edinburgh

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