Professor of Quantitative Criminology

BSc Hons, MSc
View my full research profile

Biography

Susan is Professor of Quantitative Criminology within the School of Law. She has three major research roles within the School. She is Director of the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) in Scotland, a collaborative network of social scientists which provides advanced training in quantitative techniques and promotes knowledge exchange events aimed at boosting capacity in quantitative methods across Scotland. Susan is Co-Director of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a prospective longitudinal study of youth offending based at the University of Edinburgh since 1998. She has responsibility for strategic management of the research programme and plays a key role in advancing statistical analysis of the data and publishing the results of the research. And she is Leader of the CJ-Quest network for the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, another collaborative initiative involving Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities in partnership with the other Scottish HEIs. The CJ-Quest network has responsibility for conducting and facilitating high quality quantitative criminological research in Scotland, and developing statistical analysis and data modelling.

Susan has a broad range of substantive interests, and her recent work includes research into: youth crime, deviance and substance use; patterns and trends in crime; criminal careers through the life-course; systems of justice, including transitions from juvenile to adult criminal justice systems; neighbourhood effects on offending; patterns of homicide; youth gangs and knife crime; and various projects on violent behaviour. She is also interested in the use of advanced methods in quantitative criminology, and her current work involves modelling trajectories of offending and other forms of behaviour; using multi-level modelling to establish the impact of neighbourhood-level effects and dynamics over and above individual-level effects on individual delinquency; and using quasi-experimental methods to investigate the impact of early youth justice intervention on later behaviour, life chances and criminal conviction trajectories.

Susan is a member of several Scottish Government committees, consults broadly on a range of crime and justice related issues and sits on the editorial board of the British Journal of Criminology. Prior to working for the University, she was a government researcher in Scotland with responsiblity for the development of Government research on crime surveys, various aspects of the criminal justice system and substance use.

Susan's Edinburgh Research Explorer Page is available here.

PhD Supervisees

Ben Matthews  'Criminal Careers and the Crime Drop in Scotland'

Luis Fernando Pantoja Nunez  'Another side of the segregation: Reproduction of violence and criminal behavior through schools.'

Sara Skott  'The Relationship between Homicide and Serious Violence in Scotland'

Journal Articles

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Negotiated order: The groundwork for a theory of offending pathways' (2012) Criminology and Criminal Justice 12 347-375

Susan McVie 'Alternative models of youth justice: lessons from Scotland and Northern Ireland' (2011) Journal of Children's Services Vol 6 Iss 2 pp106-14
Abstract: Widespread criticism of the youth justice system in England and Wales has resulted in calls for it to adopt a restorative paradigm. This paper seeks to review the historical development of youth justice in neighbouring Scotland and Northern Ireland. The historical development of youth justice in Scotland and Northern Ireland is reviewed with a view to learning lessons from these two very different models, compared to the current model in England and Wales. It is argued that those tasked with reforming the system in England and Wales must understand the underlying political, cultural and social contexts in which alternative models have developed and satisfactorily resolve the conflicting needs and rights of the offender versus those of the victim, community and wider public. Transfer of policy and practice from other jurisdictions requires careful consideration of their political, cultural and social contexts but England and Wales may benefit greatly from adopting restorative practices similar to those in Northern Ireland. However, successful implementation will depend on political will and institutional infrastructure.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Youth Crime and Justice: Key Messages from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime' (2010) Criminology and Criminal Justice 10 211-230
Abstract: Based on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, this article challenges the evidence-base which policy-makers have drawn on to justify the evolving models of youth justice across the UK (both in Scotland and England/Wales). It argues that to deliver justice, systems need to address four key facts about youth crime: serious offending is linked to a broad range of vulnerabilities and social adversity; early identification of at-risk children is not an exact science and runs the risk of labelling and stigmatizing; pathways out of offending are facilitated or impeded by critical moments in the early teenage years, in particular school exclusion; and diversionary strategies facilitate the desistance process.The article concludes that the Scottish system should be better placed than most other western systems to deliver justice for children (due to its founding commitment to decriminalization and destigmatization). However, as currently implemented, it appears to be failing many young people.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'No Way Out?' (2007) Children in Scotland 73 8-9

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Youth Justice? The Impact of System Contact on Patterns of Desistance from Offending' (2007) European Journal of Criminology 4 (3) 315-345
Abstract: This article assesses the effectiveness of the Scottish model of youth justice in the context of a growing body of international research which is challenging the 'evidence-base' of policy in many western jurisdictions. Drawing on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, it shows how labelling processes within agency working cultures serve to recycle certain categories of children into the youth justice system, whilst other serious offenders escape the tutelage of the formal system altogether. The deeper a child penetrates the formal system, the less likely they are to desist from offending. The article concludes that the key to reducing offending lies in minimal intervention and maximum diversion. While the Scottish system should be better placed than most other western systems at delivering such an agenda (due to its founding commitment to decriminalisation and destigmatisation), as currently implemented, it appears to be failing many young people.

Susan McVie 'Patterns of deviance underlying the age-crime curve: the long term evidence' (2005) British Society of Criminology E-Journal Vol 7
Abstract: The high prevalence of delinquent behaviour in the teenage years is well documented. The phenomenon that is the age-crime curve, which tends to peak in the mid to late teens, is widely agreed to cross both jurisdictional and temporal boundaries. However, analysis at such an aggregate level conceals important underlying differences between individuals and within different offence types. Furthermore, shifts in prevalence rates are not necessarily mirrored by such consistent changes in incidence rates (see Farrington, 1986). The plethora of cross-sectional studies carried out have been unable to shed light on the nuances of individual offending careers. Using longitudinal data collected from the first five sweeps of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, this paper shall explore patterns and trends in delinquent behaviour of a single age cohort from 12 to 16 years of age. Trends in both prevalence and incidence shall be explored in an attempt to explore the relationship between these two fundamental aspects of offending behaviour. And some exploratory work will be done to identify distinct groups of offender based on their involvement in delinquency over the course of their early teens.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'The Usual Suspects? Street-life, young people and the police' (2005) Criminal Justice 5 (1) 5-36
Abstract: This article explores children's experience of policing. Drawing on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, it argues that the police may be unfairly targeting certain categories of young people. Evidence is presented on the ways in which police working rules serve to construct a population of permanent suspects among children. The article concludes that the police act less as legal subjects and more as class subjects in their interactions with young people and that the policing of children may serve to sustain and reproduce the very problems which the institution ostensibly attempts to contain or eradicate.

David J. Smith, Susan McVie 'Theory and Method in the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime' (2003) British Journal of Criminology 43 169-195
Abstract: This paper summarizes the purposes and methods of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal study of 4,300 young people in the City of Edinburgh and the neighbourhoods where they live. The study is not concerned with early childhood influences, but with transitions and personal transformations during adolescence and early adulthood. It aims to explain why some, among all those with criminal inclinations, become offenders, and why some stop offending much sooner than others. Unlikely previous studies, it focuses in particular on explaining gender differences, and on the mechanisms leading to serious, long-term, and frequent offending. It aims to assess the influence of contacts with the official systems on subsequent criminal careers. Finally, it integrates explanations at the levels of the individual and local community. The rationale for the basic design of the study is set out, and some early findings are presented and discussed.

Chapters

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'The Case for Diversion and Minimum Necessary Intervention' in Barry Goldson and John Muncie (eds) Youth Crime and Justice (Sage, 2015)

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'The Scottish Juvenile Justice System: Policy and Practice' in John A. Winterdyk (eds) Juvenile Justice: International Perspectives, Models and Trends (CRC Press, 2014) 263-294

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Critical debates in developmental and life-course criminology' in M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology fifth edition (Oxford University Press, 2012) 531-562

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Youth Justice? The Impact of Agency Contact on Desistance from Offending' in Richard Sparks, Stephen Farrall, Mike Hough, Shadd Maruna (eds) Escape Routes: Contemporary Perspectives on Life After Punishment (Routledge, 2011) 81-106
Abstract: This chapter assesses the effectiveness of the Scottish model of youth justice in the context of a growing body of international research that is challenging the `evidence base' of policy in many western jurisdictions. Drawing on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, it shows how labelling processes within agency working cultures serve to recycle certain categories of children into the youth justice system, whereas other serious offenders escape the tutelage of the formal system altogether. The deeper a child penetrates the formal system, the less likely he or she is to desist from offending. The article concludes that the key to reducing offending lies in minimal intervention and maximum diversion. Although the Scottish system should be better placed than most other western systems at delivering such an agenda (owing to its founding commitment to decriminalization and destigmatization), as currently implemented it appears to be failing many young people.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Youth Crime and Justice in Scotland' in Croall, H., Mooney, G. and Munro, M. (eds) Criminal Justice in Scotland (Willan, 2010) Ch 4, pp 67-89
Abstract: "Society is, we believe, seriously concerned to secure a more effective and discriminatory machinery for interventions for the avoidance and reduction of juvenile delinquency." (Kilbrandon, 1964) This quotation from the report of the Kilbrandon committee which set up the existing system of juvenile justice in Scotland gives a flavour of the Scottish civic culture which has shaped Scotland's unique institutions and processes for dealing with young offenders (McAra 2008). It highlights a sense of common-ownership of the problems posed by young offenders and a commitment to the development of effective practice. It also reflects a recurrent preoccupation of policy elites that extant structures of juvenile justice are inadequate to the task of reducing offending amongst children and young people and require to be reformed. This chapter on youth crime and justice overviews the historical development of Scottish juvenile justice and describes the operation of the current system. It also presents empirical data relating to the nature and pattern of youth crime in Scotland, including data from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (the Edinburgh Study) and assesses the effectiveness of the system.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Youth Justice? The Impact of Agency Contact on Desistance from Offending' in Michael Little, Barbara Maughan (eds) Effective Interventions for Children in Need (Ashgate Publishing, 2010) Pt II, Chapter 2
Abstract: This chapter assesses the effectiveness of the Scottish model of youth justice in the context of a growing body of international research which is challenging the 'evidence-base' of policy in many western jurisdictions. Drawing on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, it shows how labelling processes within agency working cultures serve to recycle certain categories of children into the youth justice system, whilst other serious offenders escape the tutelage of the formal system altogether. The deeper a child penetrates the formal system, the less likely they are to desist from offending. The article concludes that the key to reducing offending lies in minimal intervention and maximum diversion. While the Scottish system should be better placed than most other western systems at delivering such an agenda (due to its founding commitment to decriminalisation and destigmatisation), as currently implemented, it appears to be failing many young people.

Susan McVie 'Enquetes de criminalite et de delinquance autoreportees en Grande-Bretagne et en Irlande' in Renee Zaubermann (eds) Les Enquetes de delinquance et de deviance autoreportees en Europe: Etat des savoirs et bilan des usages (L'Harmattan, Paris, 2009) 149-180
Abstract: Ce chapitre présente l'évidence sur la recherche existante de la Grande-Bretagne (l'Angleterre, l'Ecosse et le Pays de Galles) et l'Irlande sur la délinquance de rapport de soi (SRD) les enquêtes et contribue pour Travailler le Paquet 7 de la Commission européenne a financé le cadre sur la Déviance Évaluante, le Crime et la prévention en Europe. Les buts clé du chapitre sont de résumer les caractéristiques principales de la recherche de ces quatre juridictions et accentuer des éditions de bonne pratique et d'excellence méthodologique.

Susan McVie 'Self-report delinquency surveys in Britain and Ireland' in Renee Zaubermann (eds) Self-Reported Crime and Deviance Studies in Europe. Current State of Knowledge and Review of Use (VUB Press, Brussels, 2009) Chapter 7, pp155-188
Abstract: This chapter presents evidence on the existing research from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Ireland on self-report delinquency (SRD) surveys, and contributes to Work Package 7 of the European Commission funded framework on Assessing Deviance, Crime and prevention in Europe. Key aims of the chapter are to summarise the main features of the research from these four jurisdictions and to highlight issues of good practice and methodological excellence.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Youth Justice? The Impact of Agency Contact on Desistance from Offending' in Barry Goldson, John Muncie (eds) Youth Crime and Juvenile Justice (Sage Publications, 2009) Vol III, Part 11, Chapter 3
Abstract: This chapter assesses the effectiveness of the Scottish model of youth justice in the context of a growing body of international research which is challenging the 'evidence-base' of policy in many western jurisdictions. Drawing on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, it shows how labelling processes within agency working cultures serve to recycle certain categories of children into the youth justice system, whilst other serious offenders escape the tutelage of the formal system altogether. The deeper a child penetrates the formal system, the less likely they are to desist from offending. The article concludes that the key to reducing offending lies in minimal intervention and maximum diversion. While the Scottish system should be better placed than most other western systems at delivering such an agenda (due to its founding commitment to decriminalisation and destigmatisation), as currently implemented, it appears to be failing many young people.

Susan McVie 'Criminal careers and young people' in Monica Barry, Fergus McNeill (eds) Youth Offending and Youth Justice (Jessica Kingsley, 2009) 38-55
Abstract: This Chapter focuses on the research evidence underpinning developmental and life course criminology. Government policy is heavily influenced by developmental theories of offending, namely that offending in young adulthood is apparent from early childhood. But she asks to what extent crime is determined by and predictable from childhood, not least when most children who offend do not continue such behaviour into adulthood. McVie explores the literature on the age-crime curve and on criminal careers and identifies a range of dimensions which show promise in increasing our understanding about the developmental processes which lead to prolonged offending. However, she concludes that youth justice policies based on risk identification, prediction and prevention run the risk of inadvertently stigmatizing and criminalizing young people.

Susan McVie 'Gender differences in adolescent development and violence: findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime' in Frieder Dunkel and Kirsten Drenkhahn (eds) Youth Violence: New Patterns and Local Responses - Experiences in East and West (Forum Verlag Godesberg GmbH, Munchengladbach, 2003) 399-417

Reports

Sarah MacQueen, Susan McVie The Whole System Approach for Children and Young People who Offend: An Evaluation of Early Stage Implementation (SCCJR, 2013) [Download]
Abstract: This briefing summarises the findings from an evaluation of the early implementation of the Whole System Approach for Children and Young People who Offend (WSA). The evaluation was conducted at the very outset of the national rollout of the WSA and provides an historic account of this critical period in the implementation of the system, and the negotiations taking place between the key partners in the different local authorities in Scotland. The findings presented here form the basis for ongoing research on the WSA, and recommendations are provided for future practice and evaluation.

Sarah MacQueen, Susan McVie, Ben Bradford and Stephanie Fohring Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (2008/09) User Guide (Scottish Government, 2011) [Download]

Susan McVie Gang Membership and Knife Carrying: Findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (Scottish Government, 2010)
Abstract: This report presents key findings on gang membership and knife carrying amongst a cohort of over 4000 young people based on data collected by the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (ESYTC). The report provides an account of the knife carrying behaviour and reported gang membership amongst young people between age 12 and 17 and explores the background characteristics or profiles of young people who have carried knives or been involved in a gang. The report highlights that the main risk factors associated with knife carrying and gang membership have some overlap; however, there are also distinct differences which suggest that the aetiology of these two forms of delinquent behaviour is not necessarily shared.

Susan McVie, Jon Bannister, Jon Pickering, Susan Batchelor, Michele Burman,Keith Kintrea Troublesome Youth Groups, Gangs and Knife Carrying in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2010) [Download]
Abstract: Recent years have witnessed growing concern about the existence of youth gangs and the engagement of their members in violent conflict involving knives and other weapons. However, there is limited reliable evidence relating to the nature, form and prevalence of youth 'gangs' and knife carrying in Scotland. Based on interviews with agency representatives and young people involved in gangs and knife crime, this research report provides an overview of the nature and extent of youth gang activity and knife carrying in 5 Scottish case study locations. It also reveals a detailed picture of the structures and activities of youth gangs in these settings and offers a series of recommendations for interventions to reduce or prevent such behaviour based on this evidence.

Susan McVie, Paul Norris Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey: User Guide (Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, 2009) [Download]
Abstract: This paper (and accompanying SPSS files) aims to address several concerns around the calculation of victimisation rates from the 2006 Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey (SCVS). Analysis of the original data revealed some problems with labelling of the data in the Victim Form dataset and some missing variables. Therefore, a review of the data and a check on the victimisation rates for 2006 was requested by Scottish Government. This review found that that there were errors in the victimisation rates and estimates published in the report for the 2006 survey (Brown and Bolling 2007). This paper outlines the work done during the course of this review and presents a new set of victimisation rates and estimates that are comparable with previous crime surveys carried out in Scotland.

Susan McVie Animal Abuse amongst Young People aged 13 to 17: Trends, Trajectories and Links with Other Offending (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2007)
Abstract: http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/BlobServer?blobtable=RSPCABlob&blobcol=urlblob&blobkey=id&blobwhere=1190637812734&blobheader=application/pdf

Susan McVie, Lesley McAra, Palmer, J. Sample Safeguarding Exercise (University of Edinburgh, 2007)

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie Criminal Justice Transitions (Edinburgh University, 2007) [Download]
Abstract: This report explores transitions into the adult criminal justice system amongst a large cohort of young people who were involved in the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime. It includes: a description of patterns of criminal convictions and disposals for young people up to age 19 (on average); an examination of the characteristics and institutional histories of cohort members with a criminal record as compared with youngsters with no such record; and an exploration of the profile of young people who make the transition from the children's hearings system to the adult criminal justice system as compared with youngsters with a hearings record but who have not made this transition by age 19.

Susan McVie, Paul Norris The effect of neighbourhoods on adolescent property offending (Centre for Law and Society, University of Edinburgh, 2006) [Download]
Abstract: The aim of this report is to examine young people's involvement in property crime and to assess whether such behaviour can be predicted by neighbourhood characteristics at an early ate. A key aspect of the investigation is whether different offending trajectories are influenced to a greater extent by young people's perceptions of their neighbourhood or by the actual physical and social features of the neighbourhood itself.

Susan McVie, Paul Norris Neighbourhood effects on youth delinquency and drug use (Centre for Law and Society, University of Edinburgh, 2006) [Download]
Abstract: This report aims to investigate whether the characteristics of residential neighbourhoods exert an influence on two forms of problematic adolescent behaviour, namely criminal offending and drug use, that is independent of factors relating specifically to the individual.

Susan McVie, Paul Bradshaw Adolescent Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (Centre for Law and Society, University of Edinburgh, 2005) [Download]
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationships and inter-dependence between tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use in adolescence and the characteristics of substance users. It draws on the findings of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime.

Susan McVie, Lucy Holmes Family Functioning and Substance Use at Ages 12 to 17 (Centre for Law and Society, University of Edinburgh, 2005) [Download]
Abstract: This report explores the relationship between family functioning (including family structure, characteristics and parenting styles) and substance use among young people aged 12 to 17. It draws on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime. A copy of this report is available to download at the Edinburgh Study website at: http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/cls/esytc/academicpapers.htm

Susan McVie, Siobhan Campbell and Korin Lebov Scottish Crime Survey 2003 (Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Social Research, 2004) [Download]
Abstract: This report summarises the findings from the 2003 Scottish Crime Survey, a household survey of people's experiences and perceptions of crime based on interviews with over 5000 adults throughout Scotland.

David J. Smith, Susan McVie, Lesley McAra, Rona Woodward, Jon Shute, and John Flint The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime: Key Findings at Ages 12 and 13 (Centre for Law and Society, University of Edinburgh, 2001) [Download]
Abstract: The aim of this report is to present the key findings from the first three years of the Edinburgh Study, covering two sweeps of data collection. As the findings cover a broad range of topic areas, it is beyond the scope of this initial report to include an extensive review of the literature or a detailed discussion of theoretical issues. The content of the report is mainly descriptive, although relevant contextual information is referred to in each chapter. A concluding section is given at the end of each chapter, to sum up these findings, identify further areas of analysis and contemplate the issues for future stages of the Edinburgh.

Susan McVie, S. Anderson and S. Warner Public Interest and Private Grief: A Study of Fatal Accident Inquiries in Scotland (Scottish Office Central Research Unit, 1995)
Abstract: Crime and Criminal Justice Research Findings, No. 6

Susan McVie The Use of the Judicial Examination Procedure in Scotland (The Stationery Office, 1994)

Working Papers

Sarah MacQueen, Susan McVie, Stephanie Fohring 'Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2008/9 User Guide. Scottish Government' (2011) [Download]

Papers and Presentations

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'A "Society of Captives": The Longer-term Impacts of Juvenile Justice on Pattens of Desistance from Offending' presented at 11th Annual European Society of Criminology Conference, Vilnius, 2011

Susan McVie 'Experiences of Violence in Europe: Does Muslim Identity Matter?' presented at 16th International Metropolis Conference, Ponta Delgada, 2011

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Negotiated Order: Deviance, Identity and Desistance' presented at European Society of Criminology Conference, Liège, 2010
Abstract: Drawing on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, this paper explores the role which formal and informal regulatory orders play in the development of offender identity. It argues that such orders currently function in an exclusionary manner. Formal orders (especially policing) differentiate between categories of young people on the basis of class and suspiciousness. Informal orders (particularly in terms of regulations governing peer interactions) differentiate between individuals on the basis of territorial location, group affiliation and gender appropriate demeanour. Experience of exclusion, particularly multiple and repeated modes of exclusion, undermines the capacity of the individual to negotiate, limits autonomy and constrains choice. This renders the individual more likely to absorb identities ascribed to them with damaging consequences in terms of subsequent behaviour and the individual's sense of self.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Victims of justice? Young people, agency contact and deviancy amplification' presented at British Criminology Conference, Glasgow, 2006
Abstract: Over the past decade, youth justice discourse in many western jurisdictions has become dominated by the mantra of "evidence based" policy. Informed by the results of research on risk and protective factors and (more especially) the precepts underpinning the "what works" agenda, huge resources have been devoted to early intervention initiatives (for "at risk" children and their families) as well as to specialist programmes aimed at reducing re-offending amongst older, more persistent offenders. As a counterweight to this, however, there is a growing body of international comparative research which indicates that contact with agencies of youth justice and experience of more severe forms of sanctioning, in particular, are likely to result in enhanced rather than diminished offending risk (see labelling theory) that contact with any youth justice system of whatever ethos is inherently criminogenic. This paper presents findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, which show how early experience of adversarial police contact and involvement with (predominantly welfarist) institutions of juvenile justice, appear to amplify serious offending in the mid to late teenage years. It argues nonetheless that the principles on which the current Scottish juvenile justice system was originally based, offer the best model for delivering reductions in offending. However the effectiveness of the system has been undermined by biases in "gate-keeping" practices, failures of implementation and over-optimistic target-setting.

Susan McVie, Lesley McAra 'The impact of youth justice on persistent offending' presented at Holyrood Conference on Persistent Offending, Edinburgh, 2006

Susan McVie 'Unravelling youth crime patterns using trajectory modelling' presented at British Criminology Conference, Glasgow, 2006
Abstract: The existence of the age-crime curve is something of a ubiquitous phenomenon within life-course criminology. However, exploring data at the aggregate level conceals important differences in the underlying individual offending patterns. Longitudinal offending data allows us to study individual trajectories of offending and to better understand the various complex pathways into and out of offending. Recent advances in the development of statistical approaches to studying offending trajectories have made it possible to examine naturally occurring patterns of behaviour amongst large groups of people and such methods are perfectly adapted to longitudinal data. The most widely used of these are semi-parametric group based modelling (SGM) or latent growth mixture modelling (LGMM), both of which classify offenders into distinctive trajectory groups on the basis of observed offending histories, thus modelling sample heterogeneity in offending trajectories over time. Using six sweeps of data from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, this paper will use SGM to explore the complexities of individual offending trajectories amongst a cohort of over 4000 young people in contemporary Scotland and will expose the frailties of relying on aggregate data to understand youth offending behaviour.

Susan McVie, Paul Norris, Gillian Raab 'Adjusting for non-response in a longitudinal survey: comparisons of weighting and imputation' presented at Methods of Longitudinal Studies Conference, Essex, 2006
Abstract: The performance of weighting and imputation in adjusting for non-response is compared using six sweeps of longitudinal data from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime. This survey contains a large number of questions with ordinal responses where any response other than the lowest is often fairly rare. Once the appropriate covariates have been identified, weighting is relatively straightforward to carry out, whereas imputation for this type of data leads to many technical difficulties. Eventually, two of the six imputation strategies attempted produced reasonable results. The imputation methods produced greater differences from the observed data than weighting. Possible reasons for this are discussed along with the advantages and disadvantages of the two methods.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'What Works Revisited: Youth Justice, Cultural Context and Deviancy Amplification' presented at British Criminology Conference, Leeds, 2005
Abstract: According to Muncie (2002), the search for consistently efficient and effective practice in a global context means that the dynamics of local contingencies are often overlooked. The youth justice system in Scotland is currently incorporating "what works" principles into dedicated programmes for child offenders and piloting fast track children's hearings for persistent offenders. These developments have the potential to undermine key elements of the Kilbrandon philosophy on which the current system was originally based, through their emphasis on specialist social work intervention focused on criminogenic need (rather than generic intervention based on the welfare needs of the child). The aim of this paper is to assess the relative merits of these alternative visions of youth justice in dealing with children and young people who offend, It is based on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal study of pathways into and out of offending for a cohort of 4,300 young people who started secondary school in the city of Edinburgh in 1998. Drawing on self-report data and agency records from the first four sweeps of the study, we argue that (1) the model of offending which can be derived from the study findings is broadly supportive of the Kilbrandon philosophy, (2) current policies targeting persistent offenders are based on a spurious scientific rationale potentially damaging to the indigenous institutional ethos within the Scottish system and (3) such policies are likely to amplify the very problems which they were designed to contain or eradicate.

Susan McVie, Paul Norris 'Does neighbourhood have the same effect on crime and drug use?' presented at British Criminology Conference, Leeds, 2005
Abstract: There is a long history of research that shows large differences in rates of offending between different types of neighbourhood, but very little that has examined the effect of area level characteristics on drug use. In general, rates of offending tend to be higher in neighbourhoods with higher levels of socio-economic deprivation and social stress. At the same time, offending varies according to a range of individual risk factors and the composition of the population varies between neighbourhoods such that the prevalence of these individual risk factors is relatively high in the neighbourhoods with high levels of social problems. Yet the little evidence that exists on the relationship between drugs and both individual socio-economic status and area level deprivation is far less clear cut. Using data from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, this paper will explore the impact of neighbourhood characteristics on both offending and drug use amongst a cohort of over 4000 young people. Multi-level modelling will be used to establish the effect of neighbourhood level factors on these behaviour that is not attributable to the underlying individual characteristics of the cohort members. Exploratory analysis suggests that neighbourhoods have a greater effect on drug using behaviour than delinquent behaviour, which is largely explained by individual level factors.

Susan McVie, Paul Norris 'Neighbourhood effects on offending trajectories' presented at European Society of Criminology Conference, Krakow, 2005
Abstract: The study of neighbourhood effects has been one of the most prominent emerging themes within criminology in recent years. Assisted by the development of sophisticated modelling techniques, we are now more than ever able to ascertain the extent to which factors such as residential stability, disadvantage and spatial dynamics impact on the behaviour of young people while simultaneously controlling for the effects of a range of individual level characteristics. Another emerging theme has been the development of statistical methodologies to analyse the trajectories of offending careers and construct typologies based on longitudinal data. To date, however, little work has been done to bring these two fields of study together. Using data from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a prospective longitudinal study of over 4000 young people, this paper will seek to explore the pathways of criminal activity during the adolescent phase of offending and examine the extent to which both social and structural factors within neighbourhoods impact upon such behaviour.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'The Edinburgh Study: Theory and Method' presented at Edinburgh University: Childhood Studies Network, Edinburgh, 2005
Abstract: Internal paper looking at the theoretical development and methods of design of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime

Susan McVie 'Longitudinal self-report studies: methodological and comparative challenges' presented at Cross-national Survey Research Methodology Symposium, Boston, 2005

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Culture in Practice: The Effectiveness of the Scottish Children's Hearings System' presented at World Societies of Criminology Key Issues Conference, Paris, 2004
Abstract: According to Muncie, the search for consistently efficient and effective practice in a global context means that the dynamics of local contingencies are often overlooked (Muncie 2003). The youth justice system in Scotland is currently incorporating "what works" principles into dedicated programmes for child offenders and piloting fast track children's hearings for persistent offenders. These developments have the potential to undermine key elements of the Kilbrandon philosophy on which the children's hearings system was originally based, through their emphasis on specialist social work intervention focused on criminogenic need (rather than generic intervention based on the welfare needs of the child). The aim of this paper is to assess the relative merits of these alternative visions of youth justice at dealing with children and young people who offend. It is based on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal study of pathways into and out of offending for a cohort of 4,300 young people who started secondary school in the city of Edinburgh in 1998. A key objective of this study is to examine the impact of interactions with agencies of social control (including the hearings system) on the subsequent behaviour of young people. Drawing on self-report data and agency records from the first four sweeps of the study, we argue that the model of offending which can be derived from the study findings, is broadly supportive of the Kilbrandon philosophy and that current policies targeting persistent offenders are likely to have a deleterious impact on their behaviour in the longer term.

Susan McVie 'Safety in numbers? Young people, communities and crime' presented at Fifth Biennial Conference on Children, Young People and Crime in Britain and Ireland, Cardiff, 2004

Susan McVie 'Youth Transitions and Violence: A research based analysis of risk factors and predictors' presented at Second International Conference - Towards a Safer Society, Edinburgh, 2004

Susan McVie 'Patterns of deviance underlying the age-crime curve: The long term evidence' presented at European Society of Criminology Conference, Amsterdam, 2004
Abstract: The high prevalence of delinquent behaviour in the teenage years is well documented. The phenomenon that is the age-crime curve, which tends to peak in the mid to late teens, is widely agreed to cross both jurisdictional and temporal boundaries. However, analysis at such an aggregate level conceals important underlying differences between individuals and within different offence types. Furthermore, shifts in prevalence rates are not necessarily mirrored by such consistent changes in incidence rates (see Farrington, 1986). The plethora of cross-sectional studies carried out have been unable to shed light on the nuances of individual offending careers. Using longitudinal data collected from the first five sweeps of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, this paper shall explore patterns and trends in delinquent behaviour of a single age cohort from 12 to 16 years of age. Trends in both prevalence and incidence shall be explored in an attempt to explore the relationship between these two fundamental aspects of offending behaviour. And some exploratory work will be done to identify distinct groups of offender based on their involvement in delinquency over the course of their early teens.

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'The Vagaries of Penal Control, Gender and Juvenile Justice' presented at European Society of Criminology Conference, 2002

Lesley McAra, Susan McVie 'Violent Crime, Gender Issues' presented at Glasgow University/Children in Scotland Conference "Challenges of Violence in the Lives of Girls and Young Women", 2000