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  1. Gemma Birkett

portrait of Dr Gemma Birkett

Dr Gemma Birkett

Lecturer in Criminology

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Contact Information


Visit Gemma Birkett

D614, Rhind Building


Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



Having completed her PhD in the Department of Sociology at City, Gemma re-joined as a Lecturer in Criminology in September 2015. Gemma has a Masters by Research (MRes) in Public Policy and Management from Birkbeck, University of London and a BA (Hons) in Politics from the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Previously a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Winchester, Gemma also taught Criminology at City and Social Policy at Birkbeck College, University of London. Gemma has extensive experience of working on criminal justice legislation and consultations, speechwriting and briefing on political issues.

Prior to commencing her PhD, Gemma worked as a researcher in the House of Commons for five years and also has experience working in the criminal justice charity sector. Gemma is a member of the European and British Societies of Criminology and the Social Policy Association.


PhD in Sociology, City University London, 2015
MRes in Public Policy and Management, Birkbeck College, University of London, 2010
BA (Hons) Politics, University of the West of England, 2007


Lecturer in Criminology, City University London, 2015 -
Lecturer in Criminology, University of Winchester, 2014-2015
Policy and Research Officer, The Magistrates' Association, 2013-2014
Visiting Lecturer in Criminology, City University London, 2011-2014
Sessional Tutor, Birkbeck College, University of London, 2011-2012
Parliamentary Researcher, House of Commons, 2007-2012


Research Profile

Gemma's research interests include penology and penal reform, criminal justice policymaking, the courts and courtroom interactions, and gender and crime.

Gemma's PhD focused on the interrelationship between the women’s penal reform network, the news media and policymakers at the crime-media nexus. With unprecedented access to over thirty policy elites from politics and civil society, the research investigated penal reform strategies for women and how they have developed and augmented under changing governments and the media spotlight. Gemma continues to provide advice to organizations based on the results of this research.

Gemma is an active researcher in the criminal justice field and recently worked on a study investigating magistrates’ knowledge of and confidence in community sentences for women offenders. Her current project investigates women's compliance with community sentences in two probation areas.



  1. Birkett, Media, Politics and Penal Reform: Influencing Women's Punishment. Palgrave Macmillan.

Chapters (3)

  1. Birkett, (2015). The role of the media in women’s penal reform. In Annison, J., Brayford, J. and Deering, J. (Eds.), Women and Criminal Justice: From the Corston Report to Transforming Rehabilitation (pp. 231–247). Bristol: Policy Press. ISBN 978-1-4473-1931-3.
  2. Birkett, (2014). Politics, Power and Gender: Reflections on Researching Female Policy Elites in Criminal Justice. In Lumsden, K. and Winter, A. (Eds.), Reflexivity in Criminological Research: Experiences with the Powerful and the Powerless (pp. 231–246). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-37939-9.
  3. Birkett, G. (2014). Politics, power and gender: Reflections on researching female policy elites in criminal justice. Reflexivity in Criminological Research: Experiences with the Powerful and the Powerless (pp. 233–246). ISBN 978-1-137-37940-5.

Journal Articles (5)

  1. Birkett, G. (2016). ‘We have no awareness of what they actually do’: Magistrates’ knowledge of and confidence in community sentences for women offenders in England and Wales. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 16(4), pp. 497–512. doi:10.1177/1748895816632852.
  2. Birkett, G. (2014). Penal reform discourse for women offenders: Campaigners, policy strategies and 'issue reframing'. Crime, Media, Culture, 10(2), pp. 115–132. doi:10.1177/1741659014538641.
  3. Birkett, G. (2013). 'Transforming rehabilitation' for women? A view from the courts. British Journal of Community Justice, 11(2-3), pp. 149–152.
  4. Birkett, G. (2013). The Curious Mr. Howard: Legendary Prison Reformer. PUNISHMENT & SOCIETY-INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PENOLOGY, 15(3), pp. 325–327. doi:10.1177/1462474513479092.
  5. Birkett, G. (2012). Where Next for Criminal Justice? PUNISHMENT & SOCIETY-INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PENOLOGY, 14(5), pp. 634–636.


Module Leader

SG1023 Criminal Justice
SG2255 Penology
SG3037 Criminal Behaviour

Programme Director

MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice

Other Activities

Events/Conferences (8)

  1. 'Magistrates' Knowledge of and Confidence in Community Sentences for Women in England and Wales'. City Conference Centre, Stockholm (2015).
    Description: Stockholm Criminology Symposium
  2. ‘The Role of the British Media in Women’s Penal Reform’. Charles University Prague (2014).
    Description: European Society of Criminology Conference
  3. ‘Rehabilitating Female Offenders: Viewpoints from the Magistracy’. (2014).
    Description: Capita ‘Transforming Rehabilitation to Reduce Reoffending’ National Conference
  4. ‘Where are the Prams?’ Centre for Community and Criminal Justice Studies, University of South Wales (2013).
    Description: Women and Justice Conference (keynote speaker)
  5. ‘Politics, Power and Gender: Observations on researching female elites in criminal justice’. University of Wolverhampton (2013).
    Description: British Society of Criminology Conference
  6. ‘Penal Reform Discourse for Women Offenders: Campaigners, policy strategies and issue ‘reframing’. Keble College, University of Oxford (2013).
    Description: What is Justice? Howard League International Conference
  7. 'The Future of Benches’. Cardiff Civic Hall (2013).
    Description: Magistrates' Association National Annual General Meeting (plenary speaker)
  8. ‘Media, Politics and Penal Reform’. University of the Basque Country, Bilbao Spain (2012).
    Description: European Society of Criminology Conference

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Northampton Square

London EC1V 0HB

United Kingdom

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