Exploring Scottish criminal violence in the last 300 years

Monday, 08 May 2017

Exploring Scottish criminal violence

Oxford Brookes University’s Professor Anne-Marie Kilday is widely recognised as an authority on the history of violent crime and is the only Professor of criminal history in the UK.

For her next project she will be delving into the history of violence in Scotland, analysing whether long-held assumptions that Scotland constitutes the rougher or more violent part of Britain are true.

With many years’ experience, Professor Kilday is an expert in crime, gender and punishment since the early modern period in both European and global contexts.

In addition to her academic research and teaching at the University, she is also Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Kilday is a recipient of the University’s Research Excellence Awards. The Awards were launched in 2016 as part of Oxford Brookes’ commitment to supporting research-active academics and in supporting the aims of the recently revised Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2016-2020.

The funding is enabling her to employ a research assistant to work on data collection for this new study into Scottish criminal activity. It will also cover other research costs and ultimately allow her more time to dedicate to this unique body of work.

Here she discusses the project.

This is an ambitious historical project; in fact such an ambitious longitudinal study spanning three centuries of Scottish criminal history has never been attempted before.

This is an ambitious historical project; in fact such an ambitious longitudinal study spanning three centuries of Scottish criminal history has never been attempted before.

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday, Oxford Brookes University

The work will build on my previous analysis of Scottish female violence during the 17thand 18th centuries. For this I drew on a series of case studies of homicide, infanticide, assault, popular disturbances and robbery to explore female criminality and judicial responses to it.

However for this project I intend to go further and investigate the nature and violence of all Scottish criminal activity, both male and female and both violent and non-violent, over a lengthy and important period of change in the nation’s history.

Although some material has been collected already due to work I have previously undertaken, in essence there are three strands to the data that remain to be collected:

  1. Statistics on all crimes in each Scottish county from the Parliamentary Papers for the period roughly 1830-1960
  2. Newspaper research into identified case studies
  3. Case study material from the archives including the National Library of Scotland, the National Records of Scotland and the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

The vast majority of the funding from the Research Excellence Award will be used to employ a Research Assistant to undertake this data collection.

For strands 1 and 2, much of the material is on-line, but it will take a long time to compile as there is a wealth of material to get through for each year and for each of the counties in question.

The key output of this research will be a monograph entitled The Violent North: A History of Crime in Scotland 1660-1960 which will be finished by the end of 2018 and published summer 2019.

More information about Professor Anne-Marie Kilday and her research can be found on her profile.

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