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I have been a lecturer in Criminology since 2018, and joined Edinburgh Napier University in December 2020, having previously worked at University of the West of Scotland.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority and have significant experience teaching in research methods, as well as on a wide range of criminology modules. At ENU, I am the module leader for the second year Quantitative Research module, as well as the Dissertation for the Masters in Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology programme – and contribute to other modules including Penology and Cybercrime.

My PhD, undertaken at the University of Glasgow and completed in 2019, explored the stories people told about their attempts at desistance (i.e. moving away) from offending, and its relationship with recovery from trauma and substance use . I have published multiple articles related to desistance and recoveries, and my article on the value of ‘bearing witness’ to desistance won the Probation Journal’s prize for their best paper of 2016.

I am particularly interested in the harms experienced by people who have been repeatedly criminalised (often described as ‘persistent offenders’, although I tend to avoid this term). I am also interested in how different contexts shape the ways in which behaviours come to be seen as crimes (or not), and what this means for understanding and supporting desistance. One of the ways in which I am currently taking this forward is as Co-Investigator on a Carnegie Trust (Scotland) funded project with Dr Shane Horgan which looks at desistance from cyber-dependent crime. This project explores how people’s involvement in ‘hacking’ (legal, illegal and somewhere in between) changes over their lives, and how they narrate these changes.

Before joining academia I worked for a number of years in the voluntary sector, including within prisons undertaking housing support work, and latterly as Director of Research and Development at Revolving Doors Agency, where I worked on NHS England’s liaison and diversion programme for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities in the criminal justice system. I have also served on the boards of a number of organisations working on issues related to criminal justice and immigration detention.


Relevant publications:

Schinkel, M., Atkinson, C. and Anderson, S. (2018) Well-Kent Faces’: Policing Persistent Offenders and the Possibilities for Desistance. British Journal of Criminology.

Anderson, S. and McNeill, F. (2019) Desistance and cognitive transformations. In: Farrington, D. P., Kazemian, L. and Piquero, A. R. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook on Developmental and Life-Course Criminology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190201371 (In Press)

Anderson, S. (2016) The value of ‘bearing witness’ to desistance, Probation Journal. Vol 63 (4), pp. 408-424 [open access version] *WINNER of Probation Journal Best Paper Prize 2016

Van Roeyen, S., Anderson, S. and Vanderplasschen, W. (2016) Desistance in drug-using offenders: A narrative review . European Journal of Criminology.

Clark, M., Cornes, M., Manthorpe, J., Hennessy, C. and Anderson, S. (2015) ‘Releasing the grip of managerial domination: the role of communities of practice in tackling multiple exclusion homelessness.’ Journal of Integrated Care. Vol 23 (5), pp. 287-301

Cornes, M., Manthorpe, J., Hennessy, C., Anderson, S., Clark, M. and Scanlon, C. (2014) ‘Not just a talking shop: practitioner perspectives on how communities of practice work to improve outcomes for people experiencing multiple exclusion homelessness.’ Journal of Interprofessional Care. Vol 28 (6), pp. 541-546

Corner, J., Anderson, S., Lankshear, I., Lankshear, A., Senior, J., Shaw, J. and Taylor, P.J. (2014) ‘Offenders and alleged offenders with mental disorder in non-medical settings’. In Gunn, J. and Taylor, P. (eds) Forensic Psychiatry: Clinical, Legal and Ethical Issues, Second Edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, pp. 619-657

Anderson, SE, Hennessy, C, Cornes M and Manthorpe J (2013) ‘Developing inter-disciplinary and inter-agency networks: reflections on a “community of practice” approach’. Advances in Dual Diagnosis 6(3), 132-144

Anderson, S., Dickie, E., and Parker, C. (2013) Street Talk: An evaluation of a counselling service for women involved in street based prostitution and victims of trafficking. London: Revolving Doors. Available: http://www.revolving-doors.org.uk/file/1822/download?token=EuWC1iH3)

Anderson, S. (2012) New and innovative approaches to supporting people with complex needs’. London: Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Available: http://www.revolving-doors.org.uk/file/1806/download?token=jlwyPgW3)

Anderson, S. and Cairns, C. (2011) ‘The social care needs of short-sentence prisoners’. Durham: North East Public Health Observatory. Available: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sarah_Anderson16/publication/281551444_The_Social_Care_Needs_of_Short-Sentence_Prisoners/links/55ed711008aeb6516268de18.pdf)

Anderson, S. (2011) Complex Responses: Understanding poor frontline responses to adults with multiple needs. London: Revolving Doors Agency. Available: http://www.revolving-doors.org.uk/file/1796/download?token=pZa0cCm3

Anderson, S. (2011) ‘A way through the woods: opening pathways to mental health care for women with multiple needs.’ Advances in Dual Diagnosis. Vol 6(3), pp. 132-144



Edinburgh Napier University

Research Themes

Punishment, Citizenship and Communities

Violence, Drugs and Alcohol

No Publications Available

No Projects Available

13th February 2024

SCCJR Funding Announcement