Senior Lecturer

Director of Postgraduate Research

PhD, MSc, MA (hons)
View my full research profile


Andy joined the criminology team in the School of Law in 2012, having previously lectured in Social Policy, also at the University of Edinburgh. He has previously worked with the Home Office, analysing crime data on the English regions and Wales, and with Cardiff University evaluating a multi-agency robbery reduction initiative in central Bristol. He holds degrees from the University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University covering Criminology, Politics and Modern History.

While at the University of Edinburgh, Andy has directed MSc programmes in Global Crime, Justice and Security and in Policy Studies, and has served in leadership roles in postgraduate teaching, external relations, and research. He currently serves as Postgraduate Research Director in the School of Law. Andy has mentored several colleagues in early career research and lecturing roles and is currently mentor to one ESRC Global Challenges Research Fellow. He is an active PhD supervisor and has supervised PhDs to completion in topics including policy making, policy transfer, community policing and domestic violence and continues to welcome applicants for doctoral study and post-doctoral mentoring. 

Ph.D. supervision interests
I welcome proposals for PhDs in any area relating to my research interests, specifically the areas of the criminology of atrocity (war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity) and in the area of police governance (policing and democracy); I have regional interests in the former Yugoslavia, and may be able to provide co-supervision depending on the topic and approach and am happy to discuss further. PhD projects supervised to completion include: Community policing and policy transfer in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Jarrett Blaustein, currently Lecturer in Criminology, Monash University); South Asian Muslim women and family violence in Scotland (Nughmana Mirza, currently Lecturer in Criminology, University of Glasgow); Police consultation forums, democracy and legitimacy (Diarmaid Harkin, currently Lecturer in Criminology, Deakin University); Police governance in Scotland after 2012 (Ali Malik, currently Associate Inspector, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland).

Current Research Interests

Andy is currently working on the criminology of atrocity crimes with an empirical focus on the former Yugoslavia and the analysis of evidence presented in international criminal courts. His recent work on the emerging Serb Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina explores issues of democratisation, deprofessionalisation and militarisation of the police as explanatory factors underlying police violence. His earlier work on Bosnia and Herzegovina explores the processes of criminal justice reform as part of a post-war state-building and democratisation, and links to more general questions of the relationship between police and democracy and of policing in post-communist states.

Closer to home, Andy maintains his interest in democratic governance of police and, continuing on from research undertaken in the SIPR-funded ‘Partners in Scrutiny’ project, Andy works with Edinburgh colleague Dr Alistair Henry and doctoral student Ali Malik on the changing landscape of police governance in Scotland. 


Andy teaches on a number of MSc and undergraduate courses focusing on international dimensions of criminology.


Dr Andy Aitchison's Staff page at the School of Law

Courses Taught

Responding to Global Crime and Insecurity (Msc) (Course Organiser)

PhD Supervisees

Lambros George Kaoullas  'Security Deficit, Communalisation of the Monopoly of Violence and Polity-Building in Cyprus during the 1963-64 Crisis'

Alex Kulagina  ''The International and transgovernmental anti-drug law enforcement network of CARICC''

Ali Malik  'Democracy and epistocracy reconciled? The Scottish Police Authority and police governance in Scotland after 2012'

Laura Martin  ''Local Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone'

Taylor McConnell  ''Memory Abuse as a Cultural Roadblock to Political Reform and State Building in Bosnia- Herzegovina''

Francesca Soliman  'Migration, illegality, and social harm: an Italian case study.'

Books and Reports

Alistair Henry, Andrew Aitchison, Ali Malik, Partners in Scrutiny: Local Police Scrutiny Arrangements in Scotland, Final Project Report, (Scottish Institute for Policing Research, 2016)
Abstract: This small-scale project was designed to examine the development and working of local police scrutiny arrangements following the creation of Police Scotland and in light of public concern regarding their efficacy. The project was supported by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) and ran between October 2015 and March 2016, the fieldwork being completed by January 2016. This report begins by setting out in detail the context for the project. It then outlines the project itself, which was conducted in two stages, and its findings. Stage one of the project was a mapping and overview exercise. Through mapping we identified the different ways in which Local Scrutiny Committees (LSCs) had developed since their creation on 1 April 2013, and through overview interviews with key stakeholders we gleaned some of the current issues around questions of local scrutiny. From stage one we were able to select three local sites for more in-depth qualitative study that would form the basis of stage two. The report outlines the process of this site selection and the data collected in the three sites before moving on to present the findings in two sections. In the first section we establish the main themes and issues to emerge from the fieldwork in a summary findings section. In the second we present in more detail the various perspectives expressed to us during the course of the project. We conclude with a discussion of these perspectives from our external standpoint as researchers, offering some reflections on their meaning and importance, and making some recommendations that flow out of them.

Alistair Henry, Andrew Aitchison, Ali Malik, Partners in Scrutiny: Three Local Scrutiny Committees, (Scottish Institute for Policing Research, 2016)
Abstract: This is the second of two briefing notes from the SIPR-funded Partners in Scrutiny project. It presents the perspectives and experiences of key participants (from police and local authorities) working in three different Local Scrutiny Committees (LSCs). Themes explored with participants included: structural disconnects between LSCs and local communities, LSCs and the SPA, and within Police Scotland; the understanding of roles and functions within LSCs; information flow and quality; the capacities and skills of participants relevant to the scrutiny function; the status of LSCs; and learning and sharing good practice around police scrutiny.

Alistair Henry, Andrew Aitchison, Ali Malik, Partners in Scrutiny: Mapping Local Scrutiny Arrangements in Scotland, (Scottish Institute for Policing Research, 2016)

Andy Aitchison, Making the Transition: International Intervention, State-Building and Criminal Justice Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, (Intersentia, 2011)
Abstract: Making the Transition provides an analysis of processes of reform, reconstruction and restructuring in the criminal justice field in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the years since it completed a violent secession from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Across the three sectors of policing, courts and prisons, the work details the challenges facing Bosnia and Herzegovina and explores a range of internationally-sponsored reform initiatives. These three sectors are often examined independently of each other, but by analysing their development side by side Making the Transition is able to determine common challenges while establishing different logics and methods of international intervention. The book reflects the author’s education in a number of disciplines (politics, history, criminology) and is a useful addition to the bookshelf of those with an interest in the mechanics of state-building and in the reconstruction of post-conflict states.


Andrew Aitchison, 'Police and Persecution in the Bosnian Krajina: Democratisation, Deprofessionalisation and Militarisation', (2016), Criminal Justice Issues, Vol 14, pp 1
Abstract: Reason(s) for writing and research problem(s): The paper examines processes leading to police participation in ethnic violence. This is often taken for granted and under-explored in criminological literature which assumes that police, as part of the state monopoly of violence, are inevitable partners in ethnic violence. The paper also contributes to a growing body of work using the rich resources provided by the ICTY and other courts dealing with atrocity crime (Buss 2014; Bećirević 2014; Komar 2008; Mullins 2009). The methodological implications of using these sources are rarely discussed. This paper addresses that gap. Aims of the paper (scientific and/or social): The scientific aims of the paper are firstly to offer a robust description of police violence in the Bosnian Krajina during the early stages of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This provides a foundation for building an explanatory framework, exploring an untested assumption in criminological work. The paper also seeks to add to the written history of the war in Bosnia, contributing to the understanding of the origins of the conflict and the way it took place. Methodology/Design: The paper adopts a qualitative research design based on a purposive sample of two cases heard at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Prosecutor v Brđanin, Prosecutor v Stanišić and Župljanin). Over 50,000 pages of court transcripts and 3,000 pieces of evidence were subjected to a coding process using computer aided qualitative data analysis software (NVivo). Research/paper limitations: The paper is limited to a study of one narrow region, the Bosnian Krajina, and one authority, the emerging Serb Republic. Further comparative work is required to establish variation and common features across regions and authorities within Bosnia and Herzegovina and across other Yugoslav republics experiencing violence in the 1990s and 2000s. The paper adopts a top down approach and so does not focus on individual motivation of the front line police engaged in atrocities.Results/Findings: The paper establishes that the police in the Krajina region were politicised, deprofessionalised and militarised and played a central role in ethnic violence and ethnic cleansing. This process is rooted in various legacy features of BiH as a republic of Yugoslavia (local defence structures, relationship between police and military, ethnically based allocation of key positions for parity) combined with specific dimensions of democratisation (ethnically based political parties, power sharing agreements). General conclusion:By identifying the particular historical conditions behind the participation of Serb police in the Bosnian Krajina in ethnically targeted violence, the paper finds that the criminological assumption that this is inevitable leaves important local contextual factors unexamined. Research/paper validity:The conclusions concur with and expand upon existing criminological work.

Andy Aitchison, Paddy Tomkins, 'Policing must be local, but also informed by global experience ', (2015), Scottish Justice Matters, Vol 3, pp 15-16
Abstract: Paddy Tomkins, former Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police and head of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland, talks to Andy Aitchison, lecturerin Criminology at the University of Edinburgh about his work with the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP).

Andy Aitchison, 'Governing through Crime Internationally? Bosnia and Herzegovina ', (2013), British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol 15, pp 548-565
Abstract: The article adapts and applies the governing through crime framework to analyse the EU and Office of the High Representative (OHR) as international governing actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Limited, ambiguous and opportunistic use of techniques associated with governing through crime are most evident in relation to OHR, but only as one of a wider range of governing logics, and are linked to specific challenges of legitimation. The outward spread of criminal justice models and metaphors proposed by Simon is shown to be problematic in light of the breadth of activities that such a stance might admit to the framework.

Andy Aitchison, Jarrett Blaustein, 'Policing for Democracy or Democratically Responsive Policing?: Examining the Limits of Externally Driven Police Reform', (2013), European Journal of Criminology, Vol 10, pp 496-511
Abstract: This paper engages with literatures on democratic policing in established and emerging democracies and argues for disaggregating democratic policing into two more precise terms: policing for democracy and democratically responsive policing. The first term captures the contribution of police to securing and maintaining wider democratic forms of government, while the second draws on political theory to emphasise arrangements for governing police actors based on responsiveness. Applying two distinct terms helps to highlight limitations to external police assistance. The terms are applied in an exploratory case study of fifteen years of police reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The paper highlights early work securing the necessary conditions for political democracy in BiH but argues that subsequent EU-dominated interventions undermine responsiveness. A recent UNDP project suggests that external actors can succeed in supporting democratically responsive policing where they do not have immediate security interests at stake.

Andy Aitchison, 'Global meets local: International participation in prison reform and restructuring in Bosnia and Herzegovina ', (2010), Criminology and Criminal Justice, Vol 10, pp 77-94
Abstract: This paper presents a case study of international participation in criminal justice reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), taken as an example of a small, peripheral jurisdiction experiencing a number of important social, political and economic transitions. The local context is introduced and is followed with a brief discussion on broader developments in penal policy beyond BiH. This precedes a case study of the work of the Council of Europe, which focuses on the pursuit of adequate conditions of detention for forensic psychiatric patients as an example of the impact of international human rights discourse and instruments on local penal policy. The obstacles to progress towards improved conditions of detention are located in the context of political fragmentation in BiH, supporting the view that local factors can constrain or mediate the influence of broader trends in penal policy.

Andy Aitchison, 'Police Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina: State, Democracy and International Assistance ', (2007), Policing and Society, Vol 17, pp 321-343
Abstract: As a starting point, this article takes the assertion by Clifford Shearing that there is a lack of synchronisation between patterns of policing in established democracies and the international policing assistance programmes they pursue. This provides a background against which to examine concrete examples of multilateral (UN and EU) and bilateral (UK) assistance to post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. The discussion of these programmes is set in the context of ongoing debates on democratic policing, and explores the problems and needs experienced in policing post-war and post-socialist Bosnia and Herzegovina. International responses to these problems and needs are examined, and a mixed picture emerges in which multilateral assistance schemes appear to suggest that Shearing’s concerns remain pertinent ten years on, while bilateral assistance from the UK suggests that there are circumstances in which international policing assistance escapes the framework of the state and recognises the importance of non-state participants in security provision.


Andy Aitchison, 'Genocide and state sponsored killing ' in Fiona Brookman, Ed Maguire, Mike Maguire (ed.) The Handbook on Homicide (Wiley-Blackwell 2017)
Abstract: The chapter gives an account of genocide, linking this with the wider phenomenon of state sponsored killing. Firstly some of the key dimensions of genocide in legal and extra-legal scholarship are introduced, identifying points where differing interpretations of the crime emerge. The prevalence and distribution of genocide is examined in terms of a snapshot of the current situation, historical surveys and attempts to calculate the number dying in state sponsored killings. An account of different ways of thinking about victims and perpetrators leads in to a summary of explanatory frameworks, concluding with recent attempts to create multi-level, integrated explanations for genocide. Finally, the record of preventive action since 1948 is examined, suggesting some reasons for changes in the willingness to intervene during, or to prosecute after, genocidal episodes.

Andrew Aitchison, 'Policing after State-Socialism ' in Ben Bradford, Jauregui Beatrice, Loader Ian, Steinberg Jonny (ed.) Handbook of Global Policing (SAGE Publications Ltd 2016)
Abstract: There are important divergences in how states experience state socialism (Bunce, 1999). Political and institutional choices made in advance of, during and immediately after the demise of a state-socialist regime can produce very different trajectories and outcomes (Fish, 1999). Nonetheless, certain important commonalities have been identified and abstracted from concrete historical formations, particularly in relation to ideology, structures of power and the relationships between state, party and mass organisations (Kornai, 1992). The police system, as a manifestation and fundamental element of state and party power, exhibits certain commonalities in relation to legitimacy, structure and function (Mawby, 2008). Depending on the nature of the transition away from state-socialism, these may continue to be evident in the subsequent police system. This chapter gives an account of socialist policing and, through an account of developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Poland, examines the impact of differences in transition upon police systems. A quick and clear transition in Poland can be contrasted with messier, conflict-affected transitions in post-Yugoslav Bosnia and post-Soviet Georgia, to show the importance of breakage as a mode of transitional change.

Andy Aitchison, 'Criminological Theory and International Crime Examining the Potential' in Ilias Bantekas, Emmanouela Mylonaki (ed.) Criminological Approaches to International Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press 2014) 22-49

Andy Aitchison, '“Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing” ' in Fiona Brookman, Mike Maguire, Harriet Pierpoint, Trevor Bennett (ed.) Handbook on Crime (Cullompton: Willan 2010) 762-84

Working Papers

Andy Aitchison, Jarrett Blaustein, Benjamin Himmler, Liam O'Sheaa, 'International Police Assistance: Democracy, Politics and Culture' 2014
Abstract: This briefing provides an overview of recent research on International Police Assistance. Firstly the relationship between policing and democracy is examined. While international missions have been successful in supervising police agencies to support emerging democracies, their power and influence means they can become an obstacle to police forces responding to needs articulated by local citizens. Secondly, the wider political context is of major importance, and so technical reforms without democratic state-building are of limited value. Finally, where international deployment is appropriate, suitable pre-mission training on different understandings of the police role, working across languages and cultural differences, is essential to maximise effective and legitimate delivery of police assistance.

Andy Aitchison, 'The Road to Sokolac: Securing the Benefits of ‘Greater-European’ citizenship for forensic psychiatric detainees in Bosnia' 2012