Dr Beth Weaver


Social Work and Social Policy

Personal statement

I'm a Professor of Criminal and Social Justice in the School of Social Work and Social Policy, specialising in Criminology and Criminal Justice Social Work. I teach on both the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in social work and also supervise PhD student in Social Work, Criminology and Public Health I am also Associate Director of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), and an appointed member of the Scottish Advisory Panel on Offender Rehabilitation (SAPOR).

I am actively engaged in a number of research networks, research projects and knowledge exchange activities with specific interests in desistance, user involvement and co-production and the use of through-the-prison-gate social cooperative structures of employment. All of my research has an applied focus on penal reform.


Has expertise in:

    • Desistance from crime
    • Re-entry and social reintegration
    • User involvement and co-production
    • The role of social cooperatives in supporting desistance and reintegration
    • Prisons, Parole and Community based sentences

Prizes and awards

HaSS Faculty Impact Prize for Outstanding Impact for Society
British Society of Criminology Book Prize 2016
Best Article Award 2014
Research Medal 2011 The Howard League for Penal Reform

More prizes and awards


Exploring and explaining non-compliance with community supervision
Weaver Beth, Piacentini Laura, Moodie Kristina, Barry Monica
British Journal of Criminology Vol 61, pp. 434-455 (2021)
Reframing the Space : From a Community-Led Women's Space to a Women-Led Community Space
Gillon Fern, Weaver Beth
The Women's Centre Programme Thematic Summary The Women's Centre Programme Thematic Summary, Vol 5 (2019)
Developing a Community -Led Women's Space : A Person Centred Approach
Gillon Fern, Weaver Beth
The Women's Centre Programme, Thematic summary The Women's Centre Programme, Thematic summary, Vol 4 (2019)
Inclusive Justice - Co-producing Change : A Practical Guide to Service User Involvement in Community Justice
Weaver Beth, Lightowler Claire, Moodie Kristina
Co-production, governance and practice : the dynamics and effects of user voice prison councils
Weaver Beth
Social Policy and Administration Vol 53, pp. 249-264 (2019)
Co-producing Justice : International Social Economy Network Programme Report
Weaver Beth, Osborne Stephen, Roy Michael, Soppitt Sarah, Docherty Elizabeth, Morris Paul, Jackson Tom, Graham Pauline, Chappell Jayne

More publications


My teaching interests include criminology, law and penal policy for criminal justice social work; penology and penal change; the dynamics of community supervision, rehabilitation and desistance; risk assessment and risk management in criminal justice.

Research interests

My research activities are principally concerned with desistance from crime, the regulation and governance of the community supervision of people involved in the criminal justice system and the management of those classified as high risk.

I am particularly interested in the role of social relations in the onset, maintenance and conclusion of criminal careers, specifically how people's relationships with and to friends, families and communities shape and influence their offending trajectories and the implications of this for penal policy and practice. My doctoral research in this field has led to further projects examining the outcomes of mutual aid based group work and the role of through-the-prison-gate social cooperative structures of employment in processes of desistance and social reintegration, the latter of which is funded through the ESRC Future Research Leaders scheme.

Professional activities

Inclusive Justice: Coproducing Change (East Dunbartonshire)
Inclusive Justice: Co-producing Change (East Dunbartonshire)
Resilience Learning Partnership, Inaugural Annual Lecture
Scottish Parliament Consultation on the Disclosure (Scotland) Bill
Invited speaker
Inclusive Justice: Coproducing Change (Ayrshire)
Keynote/plenary speaker
'Help Me Please': Terror, Trauma and Self-Inflicted Deaths in Prison

More professional activities


User Engagement Project for Community Justice Ayrshire
Weaver, Beth (Principal Investigator) Lightowler, Claire (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2018
Co-producing desistance from crime: The role of social cooperative structures of employment
Weaver, Beth (Principal Investigator)
"Across the UK, and indeed further afield, increasing political, professional and public concern has been expressed about the economic, social and human costs of the increasing use of imprisonment and of reoffending following release. Consequently, there is now growing interest in developing innovative and sustainable practices that can facilitate the social integration and desistance of former prisoners. Research on why and how people stop offending (desistance) has incrementally refocused attention on the kinds of conditions and supports that variously enable or constrain social integration and desistance. However, despite the identified correlations between participation in employment and desistance, this is an area that has received limited attention in policy, practice and research. Yet most serving and former prisoners want to work and see this as critical to their efforts to give up crime on release but they face particular challenges to accessing employment because of criminal records, employer attitudes and discrimination, which can pose a threat to their longer-term prospects for desistance. Responding to this gap in research, policy and practice, the intention of this study is to examine the potential of a recent innovation in the use of social cooperatives in the UK; that is the use of social co-operative structures of employment as a mechanism for supporting the resettlement of prisoners and enabling longer-term processes of desistance. In particular, this research uses case studies of more established through-the-prison-gate social cooperatives in Italy to inform emerging cooperative structures of employment in the criminal justice system in the UK in order to consider what social cooperatives might contribute to the integration and desistance of former prisoners; to consider how this learning can translate into improvements for policy design and service delivery in a criminal justice context; and crucially, to inform new ways of working to support social integration and desistance.

The four phases of the research involve firstly, synthesising current research and policy literatures on co-production, desistance and social cooperatives prior to developing, in the second phase, a conceptual analytical framework through which to analyse the data generated in phases three to four. The third phase involves a qualitative analysis of two established Italian 'through-the-prison-gate' social cooperative structures of employment; the learning from phase three will be applied to two UK based social cooperatives over phase four, using multi-modal research methods, to examine over a period of 17 months the process through which the relevant stakeholders implemented these structures and examine the impacts, outputs and outcomes from the vantage point of the stakeholders and objectives of each social cooperative.

Essentially, the research design and associated activities will facilitate an on going exchange of knowledge, information and ideas between stakeholders and members of the cooperative, policy-makers and wider beneficiaries to stimulate increased consideration of the conditions in which social integration and desistance can be enabled and the kinds of innovative and sustainable practices through which this might be realised. The insights this research will engender will be widely shared with a range of stakeholders to maximise the reach of the project, but perhaps the greatest impact resides in the participatory nature of the research design oriented to the co-production of useful learning which will contribute to more positive and constructive lives for ex-offenders and their families and, thus the wellbeing of the communities in which they reside, and to the more effective use of scarce public resources."
05-Jan-2015 - 04-Jan-2018
Co-Producing Desistance? An Exploration Of The Dynamics And Effects Of A Mutual Aid Group Of Former Prisoners
Weaver, Beth (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 30-Jan-2016
Moving Forward: Training. Commissioned by HMP Low Moss.
Weaver, Beth (Principal Investigator)
14-Jan-2014 - 30-Jan-2014
Co producing community justice
Weaver, Beth (Principal Investigator) Lightowler, Claire (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 30-Jan-2016
Impact evaluation: Custody to Community Voice
Barry, Monica (Principal Investigator) Weaver, Beth (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 31-Jan-2016

More projects


Social Work and Social Policy
Lord Hope Building

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