Marian FitzGerald is currently a Visiting Professor of Criminology at the University of Kent; but she read Modern Languages at university. Soon after graduating, though, she was bringing up a young family in a multi-ethnic area of East London and became increasingly involved in work with local minority ethnic groups. Her subsequent engagement in both local and national anti-racist activity led in the 1980s to a succession of research projects on relations between the political parties and minority ethnic groups and on relevant aspects of policy development.
To her surprise, the first permanent job she was offered was in the Research Unit at the Home Office in 1988. As a single mother, she felt obliged to take it; but despite her initial ambivalence, she remained there for 11 years. Though not a statistician, by the time she left, she had become closely acquainted with a wide range of government statistics and the ways in which these were presented to the public. She had also gained a PhD which reflected her immersion in the mainstream of a Unit primarily concerned with research on crime and the criminal justice system. Her thesis was entitled, ‘”Race” and crime in Britain: what was the question?’.
Since 1999, she has again undertaken a series of research projects and consultancies, most of them related to policing and/or youth crime. She also acted as a special adviser to the 2006 House of Commons Home Affairs Committee inquiry into ‘Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System’ and is regularly interviewed by the media both for her views on news stories about crime and policing and for her help in interpreting crime statistics.