Professor Gelsthorpe has carried out a number of research studies since the mid-1980s which has taken her into a wide range of criminal justice agencies.
Recent and current research interests revolve around notions of criminal and social justice in sentencing, youth justice issues, women and criminal justice, community penalties, and social exclusion, crime and justice. Recent empirical work includes a focus on resettlement issues for women - particularly those connected to housing, the criminalisation of migrant women, and the use of the arts in rehabilitation both within prisons and in the community. In 2012, she carried out search on Deaths under Probation Supervision - for the Howard League for Penal Reform, with Nicky Padfield and Jake Phillips.
Professor Gelsthorpe is Director of the Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Centre across the Social Sciences within the University, and Joint Convenor of CAMMIGRES (an interdisciplinary network of relating to research on migration). Nationally, she was Deputy Chair of the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework) sub-panel on Social Policy and Social Work and was President of the British Society of Criminology (2011-2105). Professor Gelsthorpe currently chairs the European Society of Criminology Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice Working Group. She also sits on various Government Advisory Committees relating to criminal justice.
Publications include 7 books, most recently: Research Ethics in Criminology: Dilemmas, Issues and Solutions edited by Malcolm Cowburn, Loraine Gelsthorpe, and Azrini Wahidin (2016), various contributions to the prestigious Oxford Handbook of Criminology, and well as over 180 other articles, book chapters and reports on criminological and criminal justice related topics.