Professor Lesley McAra FRSE

Professor of Penology, University of Edinburgh

Professor Lesley McAra CBE is the Director of the Edinburgh Futures Institute and Assistant Principal (Community Relations) at the University of Edinburgh. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh and Open University, she began her career as a researcher in the then Scottish Office, joining Edinburgh University in 1995 as a Lecturer in Criminology. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2005 and to the Chair of Penology in 2009. Lesley was the first woman to be Dean of Edinburgh Law School and the first Scot to be elected President of the European Society of Criminology. Her main research interests lie in the fields of youth crime, juvenile justice and comparative penal politics and she is a member of the European Society of Criminology’s working groups on both juvenile justice and the longer term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on crime and criminal justice. Lesley is Co-Director of the prize-winning Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal programme of research which began in 1998, tracking pathways into and out of offending for a cohort of 4,300 young people. As inaugural Director of the Edinburgh Futures Institute, she is also driving a major programme of inter-disciplinary research, education and engagement aimed at supporting data drive innovation for economic inclusion and social benefit.

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