I graduated from Oxford University (Modern History) in 1988, obtained my MA at the University of Exeter (1992) and my PhD at the University of Surrey, Roehampton, in 1997. I was appointed as a Lecturer in History in the School of Cultural Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University in 1997. I joined the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh in 2005 as a Lecturer in Modern Social History and was promoted to Reader in 2010. I am a Registered Practitioner of the Higher Education Academy
I am Editor (with Gordon Johnston) of the academic journal Social History. I am a member of the Advisory Committee of the journal Crime, Histoire & Sociétés/ Crime, Histoire & Societies, the editorial board of Women’s History Review and the steering committee of Women’s History Scotland.
My research is concerned with histories of women and gender in modern Britain as well as with histories of policing and surveillance, crime, deviancy, childhood, youth and sexuality.
My first book Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England examined the ways in which abuse was debated, diagnosed and dealt with through the law, voluntary welfare provision and the informal level of neighbourhood. Subsequent research used oral history interviews as well as wide ranging archival materials to examine the professional roles, identities, activities and everyday experiences of women employed within the UK police service since the First World War. This was published as Women Police: Gender, Welfare and Surveillance in the Twentieth Century.
I have also co-edited (with Krista Cowman) a volume of essays on Women and Work Culture: Britain c. 1850-1950, and co-authored (with Shani D’Cruze) a book on Women, Crime and Justice in England Since 1650.
My most recent book Policing Youth: Britain 1945-1970 probes beneath the media sensationalism surrounding youth crime to evaluate the workings of juvenile justice and the relationship between young people and practitioners in a key era of social change. The research for the book was funded by the ESRC during 2008-9 (when I worked with project research assistant Dr Angela Bartie on 'Policing Post-War Youth: a Comparative Study of England and Scotland c.1945 – 1971’) as well as by the Carnegie Trust.