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Juvenile Justice in Victorian Scotland

Christine Kelly

Hardback (Forthcoming)

Explores the history of juvenile justice and the day industrial school movement in 19th-century Scotland

  • Illustrates the relevance of historical research to contemporary youth justice
  • Contributes to the growing interest in Scottish criminal justice history, which until recently has been sparsely covered
  • Offers a lively account, with discussion of newly published theories

How did Scotland’s criminal justice system respond to marginalised street children who found themselves on the wrong side of the law, often for simple vagrancy or other minor offences? This book examines the historical criminalisation of Scotland’s Victorian children, as well as revealing the history and early success of the Scottish day industrial school movement – a philanthropic response to juvenile offending hailed as ‘magic’ in Charles Dickens’s Household Words.

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1. The Young Offender
2. Pressure for Reform
3. The Dream Fades
4. New Horizons?
5. The Road to Kilbrandon
Table of statistics; References; Index

About the Author

Christine Kelly is an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Law, University of Glasgow where she was formerly a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. She is a qualified solicitor and received her PhD from the University of Glasgow. Her research interests centre on the history of juvenile justice in Scotland over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and encompass criminalisation, social theory and the histories of criminal justice and criminal law.


This book skilfully guides us through the landscape of child-welfare and institutional management and will be appreciated by both students and experienced researchers for its accessible writing style. Juvenile justice has recently acquired new currency, and this study adds a valuable perspective that has been previously been missing.

- Barry Godfrey, University of Liverpool

Dr. Kelly’s analysis of history of the distinctive Scottish system of juvenile justice is based on meticulous archival and legal research; on an astute reading of the historical literature on childhood; and on a clear grasp of the issues raised by the criminalization of children. Above all, it shows  the way in which this history continues to echo in debates about juvenile justice.

- Nicola Lacey, London School of Economics

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