Research Fellow

MSc in Social Research, University of Edinburgh; M.A. Hons (1st Class) Sociology, University of Glasgow
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Sarah is a Research Fellow with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research.  Sarah’s most recent research focuses on the experiences of, and responses to, violence, and policing.  She is currently leading research into the prevalence and risk of domestic violence in Scotland, and the ways in which victims interact with the police and other formal and informal help networks (funded through the Scottish Institute for Policing Research Strategic Research and Knowledge Exchange stream).  Sarah is also running an ongoing experimental study (funded by the Scottish Government) into the impact of interactions between the police and members of the public on perceptions of procedural justice, conferment of police legitimacy, and compliance with the law, and undertook a visiting scholarship at the University of Queensland in 2014 to develop the study in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security.

Sarah has expertise in, and experience of, a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research methods.  Most recently she has undertaken original survey research and complex secondary analyses of existing survey and other administrative data, and implemented large scale randomised field trials supported by in-depth qualitative preliminary and follow up fieldwork.  She has worked closely with the Scottish Government for a number of years to contribute to an ongoing programme of continuous improvement of the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey and draws on the survey to deliver both original analysis and training for capacity building in quantitative criminological research.  Sarah is also a member of the Scottish Government Scotstat Crime and Justice Committee and the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey User Group.

Prior to joining the SCCJR, Sarah held research posts at the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre for Scotland (University of Edinburgh) and the University of Glasgow, where she had responsibility for a number of research and evaluation projects in the areas of gender inequality, community disposals, youth justice and early intervention, and responses to domestic violence.


Ms Sarah MacQueen's Homepage at Edinburgh Law School

Courses Taught

Gender and Justice (Honours)

Gender and Justice 1 (Honours)

Gender Crime and Criminal Justice (MSc) (Course Organiser)

Introduction to Criminal Justice (Ordinary) (Course Organiser)

Books and Reports

Sarah MacQueen, Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2012/13:: Partner Abuse, (Scottish Government, 2014)
Abstract: Main findings from the 2012/13 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey were published on 7 March 2014. This report provides additional findings and evidence on partnerabuse.

Sarah MacQueen, Susan McVie, The Whole System Approach for Children and Young People who Offend: An Evaluation of Early Stage Implementation, (Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, 2013)

Sarah MacQueen, Alistair Fraser, Evaluation of Early and Effective Intervention (EEI) and Diversion from Prosecution in Dumfries and Galloway, (Scottish Government, 2011)

Sarah MacQueen, Ben Bradford, Diversion from Prosecution to Social Work in Scotland: A Snapshot of Current Patterns and an Examination of Practice in Three CJAs, (Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, 2011)

Susan McVie, Ben Bradford, Stephanie Fohring, Sarah MacQueen, The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2008/09: User Guide, (Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, 2011)
Abstract: This User Guide provides a comprehensive introduction for anyone wishing to know more about or use the data from the 2008/09 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS). The Guide is structured in four sections. Section 1 provides a short historical account of the development of crime surveys in Scotland, followed by technical information on the background, sample design and methodology of the 2008/09 survey in particular. This includes details of the sample design and methodology, structure and content of the questionnaire, use of weighting and some limitations of the data. Section 2 provides practical guidance on using the data, including how to access it, data file formats and levels of analysis, how to choose the appropriate dataset, selecting and using weights and defining variables. Further support for users is provided in Section 3, which uses illustrative examples to answer common analytical questions and demonstrates how to merge datasets together. The examples provided include SPSS syntax and output, which are intended to allow users to replicate analysis contained in the published reports. The final section identifies some useful resources for survey users.

Sarah MacQueen, Bill Whyte, Action for Children Renfrewshire Primary Support Project: An Evaluation, (Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre for Scotland TEP Paper 9, 2009)

Sarah MacQueen, Linda Hutton, Joe Curran, Bill Whyte, Insight 41: Support and Services for Parents in Scotland, (Scottish Government, 2008)
Abstract: The Criminal Justice Development Centre for Scotland was commissioned by the Scottish Executive Scotland, to look at the availability of support and services for parents in Scotland, local approaches to providing support and services, and the broader evidence.

Sarah MacQueen, Joe Curran, Bill Whyte, John Boyle, "Forced to Make Amends": An Evaluation of the Community Reparation Pilots, (Scottish Government, 2007)
Abstract: This report sets out the findings of the evaluation of the pilot Community Reparation Order schemes (CROs) operating in Dundee, Highland and Inverclyde from April 2005 to March 2007. The research has been conducted by the University of Edinburgh’s Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre for Scotland in partnership with DTZ.The Scottish Executive introduced Community Reparation Orders (CROs) in May2005 as one of a range of new measures for tackling antisocial behaviour under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004.

Sarah MacQueen, Linda Hutton, Joe Curran, Bill Whyte, Support and Services for Parents: A Review of Practice Development in Scotland, (Scottish Government, 2007)

Sarah MacQueen, Linda Hutton, Joe Curran, Bill Whyte, Support and Services for Parents: A Review of the Literature in Engaging and Supporting Parents, (Scottish Government, 2007)
Abstract: This literature review aims to draw together existing knowledge on assessingand evaluating parenting interventions. In conducting the literature review, theresearch team was interested in re-examining the historical policy context to locate the rationale for the introduction of Parenting Orders and the apparent under use of the provisions; to re-examine the evidence of risk and protective factors and the inter-related issues of antisocial behaviour and child care; alongside effective approaches to family service provision. These themes set the context and framework for examining the evidence on the practice of engagement with clients and the use of compulsion.


Ben Bradford, Chris Giacomantonio, Sarah MacQueen, 'Experiments in policing: The challenge of context', (2018), European Journal of Policing Studies, Vol 5
Abstract: This paper considers the effect of organizational context, alongside wider political factors, on the ability of police/academic partnerships to ‘deliver’ experimental studies in policing. Comparing and contrasting across two recent studies, the Making and Breaking Barriers research project on mounted police, and the Scottish Community Engagement Trial (ScotCET), the paper draws on the experience of the authors and their police partners in designing, implementing and interpreting the research, with a particular focus on relational factors and how these shaped the research process. The mechanics of designing and delivering a policing experiment cannot work without attending to the nature of police/researcher partnership, the challenges posed by police cultures and other organizational factors, and the environment within which the study is occurring. There is a strong need for academic/police partnerships to consider experimental research projects within their wider social, economic and political contexts.

Sarah MacQueen, Ben Bradford, 'Where did it all go wrong? Implementation failure - and more - in a field experiment of procedural justice policing ', (2017), Journal of Experimental Criminology
Abstract: ObjectivesThis paper presents the findings from a retrospective qualitative process evaluation to the Scottish Community Engagement Trial (ScotCET). The study explores the unanticipated results of a randomized field trial testing the effect of ‘procedurally just’ modes of road policing on public perceptions of police. The ScotCET intervention failed to produce the hypothesized results, producing instead significant, and unexplained, negative effects on key aspects of public perception. The present study seeks to examine, from the perspectives of officers implementing the experiment, what the impacts (intended or otherwise) of participation were.MethodsGroup interviews were held within the ScotCET experiment ‘units’ to explore how officers had collectively interpreted and framed ScotCET, and responded as a group to its requirements/demands. Nine groups were held over a 5-month period post experiment completion.ResultsFindings indicate that communication breakdowns during the ScotCET implementation led to misunderstandings of its aims and objectives, and of the requirements placed on officers. Within the context of organizational reform and perceived organizational ‘injustice’, commonly cited aspects of police culture were invoked to facilitate non-compliance with aspects of the experimental intervention, leading to implementation failures, and, possibly, a diffuse negative effect on the attitudes and behaviors of experiment officers.ConclusionsOrganizational structures and processes, and coercive top-down direction, are insufficient to ensure successful implementation of policing research, and, by implication, policing reforms, particularly those that demand alternative ways of ‘doing’ policing and ‘seeing’ citizens. Greater investment in organizational justice and encouraging openness to evidence-led knowledge is needed to promote change.

Sarah MacQueen, 'Domestic abuse, crime surveys and the fallacy of risk: Exploring partner and domestic abuse using the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey', (2016), Criminology and Criminal Justice, Vol 16, pp 470-496
Abstract: The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) consistently suggests similar prevalence of domestic abuse among men and women, a finding used variously to indicate men and women’s equal risk of abuse and to dismiss the survey as a means to explore such experiences. However, assertions of equal risk are based on limited analyses of data reduced to ‘key’ figures for public dissemination, and subsequent criticisms fail to meaningfully engage with the broader data offered by the survey. Theoretically informed multivariate analyses demonstrate that risk of abuse is inadequately captured by such figures, supporting that women and men are not at equal risk, and that gender is but one of a number of influential risk factors. This article proposes the SCJS data could be put to greater use, offering rich information for developing theory and responses to violence, and that critical engagement with the survey is necessary to facilitate methodological improvement.

Sarah MacQueen, Paul Norris, 'Police awareness and involvement in cases of domestic and partner abuse ', (2016), Policing and Society, Vol 26, pp 55-76
Abstract: The last decade has seen the number of incidents of domestic and partner abuse coming to the attention of the police increase by around 50%. Over the same period, new legislative measures have sought to criminalise and protect against abusive behaviour, while the Scottish Government's Violence Against Women team has developed a national strategy for tackling domestic abuse and guidance for practitioners in the field. In spite of this activity, victims of domestic and partner abuse remain among the least likely to report their victimisation to the police. Moreover, research seeking to explore and understand this issue is scarce. Drawing on Scottish Crime and Justice Survey data, this paper presents an exploratory logistic regression analysis of the factors influencing whether or not the police become aware of victims' experience of abuse. Highlighting that a wide spectrum of individuals experience domestic and partner abuse, this analysis demonstrates clear disparity between key groups of victims in terms of police awareness and attention. Female victims, victims without employment, victims experiencing multiple abuse and victims whose children witness abuse are the most likely to come to the attention of the police. Young victims, male victims and victims in employment are among the least likely. These findings highlight critical gaps in current national policy and guidance, and present an opportunity to reconsider strategies for police/victim engagement.

Sarah MacQueen, Ben Bradford, 'Procedural Justice in Practice: Findings from the Scottish Community Engagement Trial (ScotCET)', (2015), Scottish Justice Matters, Vol 3, pp 11-12

Ben Bradford, Sarah MacQueen, Katrin Hohl, Jonathan Jackson, 'Obeying the rules of the road: Procedural justice, social identity, and normative compliance', (2015), Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Abstract: Why do people comply with traffic laws and regulations? Road traffic policing tends to be premised on the idea that people comply when they are presented with a credible risk of sanction in the event of non-compliance. Such an instrumental model of compliance contrasts with the normative account offered by procedural justice theory, in which compliance is encouraged by legitimate legal authorities. Comparing these two accounts, we find evidence that both instrumental and normative factors explain variance in motorists’ self-reported propensity to offend. Extending the standard procedural justice account, we also find that it is social identity—not legitimacy—that forms the “bridge” linking procedural fairness and compliance, at least according to a definition of legitimacy that combines felt obligation and moral endorsement. Fair treatment at the hands of police officers seems to enhance identification with the social group the police represent, and in turn, identification seems to motivate adherence to rules (laws) governing social behavior. These findings have implications not only for understandings of legal compliance but also for our understanding of why procedural justice motivates compliance and the role of procedural justice in promoting social cohesion.

Sarah MacQueen, Ben Bradford, 'Enhancing public trust and police legitimacy during road traffic encounters: Results from a randomised controlled trial in Scotland', (2015), Journal of Experimental Criminology
Abstract: ObjectivesThis paper reports results from the Scottish Community Engagement Trial (ScotCET), devised to replicate the Queensland Community Trial (QCET). ScotCET was an RCT that tested the effects of ‘procedurally just’ policing on public trust and police legitimacyMethodsA block-randomised (matched pairs) design, with pretest and posttest measures, was implemented in the context of road policing in Scotland. Participants were drivers stopped by police in December and January 2013/14 as part of Police Scotland’s ‘Festive Road Safety Campaign’. The experimental intervention comprised a checklist of key messages to include in routine roadside vehicle stops, and a leaflet for officers to give to drivers. Analysis proceeds via random effects regression models predicting latent variable measures of trust, satisfaction and legitimacyResultsContrary to expectations, the intervention did not improve trust and legitimacy; rather, trust in the officers who made the stop, and satisfaction with their conduct, fell in the test sites, relative to the controls, after implementation of the intervention. The intervention had no significant effect on general trust in the police, nor on police legitimacyConclusionsResults demonstrate the difficulty in translating experimental interventions across policing contexts, and challenge the notion that public perceptions may be improved through a simple, additive approach to the delivery and communication of procedural justice.

Sarah MacQueen, Ben Bradford, 'The Scottish Community Engagement Trial (ScotCET) ', (2013), Scottish Institute for Policing Research Annual Report, pp 18

Sarah MacQueen, Paul Yates, Stuart Allerdyce, 'Children Who Display Harmful Sexual Behaviour: Assessing the Risks of Boys Abusing at Home, in the Community, or Across Both Settings', (2012), Journal of Sexual Aggression, Vol 18, pp 23-35
Abstract: There has been no published research to date specifically on young people who sexually abuse in both family and community settings. This exploratory study looked at 34 young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour and found that abusive sexual behaviour progressed from the family into the community rather than the other way around. Boys whose abuse took place within both the family and the community were more likely to have a younger age of onset of abusive behaviour and to have experienced more abuse themselves. Boys whose abuse of their siblings was motivated substantially by jealous anger were less likely to go on to abuse outside of their family. This may suggest a different dynamic and pathway for boys who abuse only siblings and that sibling sexual abuse is a useful concept to describe a particular subset of young people who display harmful sexual behaviours.

Sarah MacQueen, 'Croall, H., Mooney, G. and Munro, M. (eds) (2010) Criminal Justice in Scotland: Book Review ', (2011), The Scottish Journal of Criminal Justice Studies, pp 91-94


Benjamin Bradford, Sarah MacQueen, 'Victimization surveys Tools for research and policy; sites of contest and debate' in Oxford Handbooks Online (Oxford University Press 2015)
Abstract: This chapter considers the history, development, and uses of crime victimization surveys. Offering a wide view of the topic at hand, discussion ranges from the historical development and political economy of crime surveys to consideration of the many methodological challenges they face. A key thread running through the chapter, however, is that although they face many intractable problems, crime surveys are indispensible in terms of generating insight into temporal change in levels of crime and investigating the distribution of various forms of victimization across the population. Despite growing budgetary constraints, victimization surveys look set to continue as part of academic and policy attempts to “know” crime.

Working Papers

Susan McVie, Sarah MacQueen, Ben Bradford, Stephanie Fohring, 'Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2008/9 User Guide ' 2011