Criminalisation of children in Scotland, 1910 to 1971


Researcher: Christine Kelly (Mentor: Lindsay Farmer)

Dr Christine Kelly received a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue a project on the criminalisation of children in Scotland in the period from 1910 to 1971. The British Academy awarded £231,800 to fund the three year programme of research.

The project took as its starting point Dr Kelly’s doctoral thesis exploring the criminalisation of children in Scotland between 1840 and 1910 and continued the account into the twentieth century until the establishment of the children’s hearings system in 1971. This will complete the story more fully, tracking in depth the course of juvenile justice history in Scotland. Venturing into largely unexplored territory in many areas, the project will draw on a wide range of primary sources to analyse fundamental issues relating to the criminalisation of children. And the investigation will be set in the context of wider changes in criminal justice culture, changes such as the extended use of probation and the political controversy in the 1930s over the appropriateness of corporal punishment for juvenile offenders. The project addresses an important subject, which up to now has been surprisingly neglected, and promises to offer a broader vision of the historical origins of the distinctive Scottish approach to juvenile justice.


Key publications:

C Kelly, "Probation officers for young offenders in 1920s Scotland" (2017) 9 European Journal of Probation 169-191.

C Kelly, "Reforming juvenile justice in nineteenth-century Scotland: the subversion of the Scottish Day Industrial School Movement" (2016) Crime, History and Societies.

C Kelly, "Continuity and change in the history of Scottish juvenile justice" (2016) 6 Law, Crime and History 59-82.