Hug More Thugs

Join Lesley McAra and Susan McVie at 8.20pm, Monday 21st August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discuss why we should be hugging more thugs. 


Tell us a bit about yourselves

Lesley is Assistant Principal Community Relations and Professor of Penology at the University of Edinburgh

Susan is the Director of the Applied Quantitative Methods Network and Professor of Quantitative Criminology at the University of Edinburgh

Both Lesley and Susan are Co-Directors of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

This show features aspects of the research we do on crime and justice related issues.  In particular, it draws on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal study of over 4000 people, which has highlighted how harsh and punitive methods of dealing with young people who come into conflict with the law are mostly ineffective and can sometimes make things worse.

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’?

The Daily Mail once included Lesley and Susan in their league table of “academics who state the bleedin’ obvious” – because they had robust evidence that early experience of school exclusion was a strong predictor of who would end up in prison by age 24 (in the Mail’s view, “once a ned always a ned”).   Crime evokes strong emotions amongst politicians and the public.  Governments that are not seen to be appropriately “tough” on crime are strongly criticised in the tabloid press.  Paradoxically so called tough responses to crime actually exacerbate it (and are often far softer in practice).  In contrast, rehabilitation and efforts to tackle the needs and vulnerabilities of the most serious offenders are often more effective at reducing crime and reducing the risks of victimisation.  If the Edinburgh Study findings are so ‘bleedin obvious’ then why has more not been done to tackle the problem?

Does it rightly have this label? Is the topic unjustly controversial?

Crime and punishment are controversial, and weak governments often turn to punitive responses to try to win popular support. De-politicising youth justice, and treating it as more akin to a public health problem, would lead to more sustained and effective responses.

Why is the topic important to you?

Lesley and Susan’s overall aim is to use research evidence to promote and campaign for positive social and political change.  The findings of their research have been utilised by policy makers and practitioners in Scotland and internationally to support the well-being and flourishing of young people, and in particular those most excluded and marginalised within society.

Describe your show in 3 words

Challenging, eye-opening, engaging

Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

People often think they know a lot about crime and justice, but they know more fiction than fact. In our show they will learn about the very strong relationship between needs (poverty, exclusion, mental health problems, neglect) and deeds (crime and anti-social behaviour); and what works in reducing crime. We will challenge you to consider the role of the criminal justice system in our society and how effective or not it is in dealing with youth crime.


Get your tickets here!:

The Stand

Ed Fringe