I am a Scottish criminologist, known primarily for my work on gangs, masculinity, street culture, violence and gang desistance and also on policing, procedural justice and focused deterrence strategies.
I constantly strive to include the excluded, and regularly produce research insights which prioritise the voices of the most disadvantaged and hard to reach in our society. My work has spanned across three Continents of the world, having worked with the most marginalised and hard to reach gang members on the streets and in youth clubs, secure accommodation and prisons and conducted ethnographic research on gang intervention programmes in Scotland, Denmark, the United States of America and Hong Kong. I have also engaged in participant observation of frontline police practice, street advocacy and youth work in both the United States of America and Scotland.
In March 2010, I was runner-up for the Economic and Social Research Council’s prestigious Michael Young Prize in recognition of my research into gang culture in the West of Scotland. In 2016-17, I was the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright scholarship award and spent a semester as Fulbright scholar-in-residence within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, USA.
I am the author of the pioneering new book Gangs and Spirituality: Global Perspectives (2018, Palgrave MacMillan), which was featured on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Thinking Allowed’ programme in the summer of 2018. See the Podcast for the programme here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b7hbc0
I am also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Gangs, Marginalised Youth and Social Capital (2009, Trentham) its sequel Policing Youth Violence: Transatlantic Connections (2013, Trentham, IOE Press), co-editor of Researching Marginalized Groups (2016, Routledge) and co-author of Young People and Social Control: Problems and Prospects from the Margins (2017, Palgrave MacMillan).
Acclaim for ‘Gangs and Spirituality: Global Perspectives’
‘In Gangs and Spirituality, Ross Deuchar traverses three continents and great disciplinary divides to arrive at conclusions about masculinities and crime or religion and criminal justice that provoke thought, emotion, and, hopefully, action. Academic writing with this much humanity and practical significance is rare. Featuring the voices of gang members in their own words and powerful stories of redemption, Gangs and Spirituality is a first-rate book; a must-read for anyone involved in gang research or interested in desistance from crime.’ (James Densley, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Metropolitan State University, USA)
‘Ross Deuchar brings us inside the lives of marginalized men across the globe who turn to gang violence to achieve masculine identity. In a heartening way, he teaches us that hopeful endings are possible. He chronicles how support and spirituality provide these otherwise lost souls with a pathway to desistance and a meaningful future. This is an important book, with valuable insights for scholars interested in, among other areas, theory, life-course criminology, gender, violence, and corrections.’ (Francis T. Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, USA)
‘The publication of Ross Deuchar’s Gangs and Spirituality: Global Perspectives marks an important milestone in gang research. It unites a focus on spirituality, religiosity and religion in the study of gang members … This work should re-focus attention on spiritual beliefs and their power to change lives.’ (Scott H. Decker, Foundation Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Faculty Affiliate in the Center on the Future of War)
Acclaim for ‘Young People and Social Control – Problems and Prospects from the Margins’
‘Young People and Social Control significantly deepens our understanding of the “youth condition”, not least because it is uniquely grounded in an astute exploration of the voices and experiences of the marginalised young. It is a standout text, not only for its fresh insights into an increasingly racialized “deficit discourse,” but also for its more positive vision of how barriers between young people and agents of social control might begin to be broken down.’ (Emeritus Professor John Muncie, The Open University).
‘In this important new work, Deuchar and Bhopal seek to reverse the cycle of moral panic and reactionary policymaking. They give authentic voice to marginalised young people’s concerns and fears regarding stigmatisation across a series of key life domains including schools and employment, but primarily the systems of criminal justice and crime control that are so closely associated with them.’ (Professor Shadd Maruna, University of Manchester, UK)
Acclaim for ‘Gangs, Marginalised Youth and Social Capital’:
‘A timely and important book. Its stated aim – to challenge the commonly-held view that young people are offensive, troublesome and threatening – is to an extent achieved. What a reader is left with is a sense of Deuchar’s curiosity about a frequently stigmatized group and abiding sense that something not only can be done but should be done’ – Runnymede Bulletin (2009).
’If you are looking for a book that focuses on solutions to the “gang problem” and how to re-engage marginalised, disenfranchised young people, then this book will be of value… Deuchar is skilled at interviewing young people and he presents the accounts of those in his sample with empathy and a clear commitment to defending their corner’ – Times Higher Education Supplement (2010).
‘For students involved in education, community learning and development and social work in particular, this work would provide valuable insight into the processes which influence both positive and negative behaviour within an urban context’ – Scottish Educational Review (2010).
‘An accessible and interesting read for a practitioner audience (and) also of use for academics interested in gangs and social capital’ – Youth Justice: An International Journal (2010).
‘What is refreshing about this book is that it manages to sidestep the well-trodden path to urban dystopia depicted as being a product of the interactions between supposedly degenerate youth and an unresponsive and impotent government … “Gangs, Marginalised Youth and Social Capital” contributes towards a welcome and thankfully growing body of literature that seeks to explore the views of young people in their own words’ – Probation Journal (2010).
Acclaim for ‘Policing Youth Violence: Transatlantic Connections’
‘Ross Deuchar provides a textured and compelling account of youth violence, unravelling the unique and common causes that lead impoverished teens—White in Scotland, African American in the United States—to victimize in lethal ways. He also shows, however, that this violence is not intractable but, through criminologically sound and supportive interventions, can be diminished—and the futures of troubled youngsters rescued. Carefully researched and accessibly written, this volume is both essential reading for scholars and ideal for classroom use’ – Francis T. Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor: University of Cincinnati
‘The policing of gang activity in the West of Scotland has never been easy. Police Scotland has had to look at new and innovative ways to impact on this type of territorial and recreational violence and evidence based academic research has been used by the police to maximise our effectiveness. The work by Professor Deuchar has been central to the development of our successful strategy and I would recommend this book to all who have an interest in this type of law enforcement work.’ – Chief Superintendent Robert Hamilton, Licensing and Violence Reduction Division: Police Scotland
‘Cross-national comparative research is rare in criminology. Ross Deuchar’s “Policing Youth Violence”, which examines innovative initiatives in Cincinnati and Glasgow aimed at reducing youthful criminality, is particularly to be welcomed therefore. Innovative in approach and wide-ranging in scope, this book will be of huge interest to scholars of policing, youth crime, gangs and desistance.’ – Professor Tim Newburn, London School of Economics
‘Ross Deucher tells a fascinating tale of two different cities which share a desire to reduce the harm caused by violence, clearly illustrating how a sound criminological understanding can really aid modern day policing. Ross’s book shows how, on both sides of the Atlantic, thinking in effective violence harm reduction has moved on from the ‘masculinization’ of a response to crime to where a truly holistic and multi-agency approach can deliver real change.’ – Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, Greater Manchester Police