Dr Laura Kelly

Dr Laura Kelly

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Laura Kelly is Research Fellow in the Department of Social Work and Social Care. She works on Child Protection and Social Distancing, an ESRC funded project led by Professor Harry Ferguson.


  • PhD in Sociology, University of Liverpool
  • MA in Research Methodology (Sociology and Social Policy), University of Liverpool
  • MA in Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • BA (Joint Hons) English and Philosophy, University of Liverpool


Laura is a sociologist with experience of researching children and young people’s services and work with children and young people. Much of her research has explored how welfare and criminal justice priorities intersect in areas of policy and practice such as youth crime prevention, community safety and targeted youth support. She is also keen to understand the impact of changing policies and broader welfare reform on practitioners (including youth justice practitioners, youth workers and social workers) and those involved with services. She has held teaching and research posts at Durham University and Liverpool John Moores University. She joined the University of Birmingham in October 2017, as Research Fellow in the Third Sector Research Centre.


Laura’s research interests centre on work with children and young people, youth crime and criminalisation, and social inequalities.

Her research engages with social policy, statutory and non-statutory organisations, practitioners and those involved with services. Her doctoral research analysed sports-based interventions intended to reduce crime and promote social inclusion. This work was funded by an ESRC +3 studentship.

From 2012-15, she was co-investigator on an ESRC funded project entitled ‘Implementing Policy Change in Youth Justice’ (ES/J009857/1 and ES/J009857/2) (with PI Professor Jo Phoenix and RA Dr Vici Armitage).

Laura has also worked with the Royal Court Liverpool Trust to explore how theatre can support young people’s personal and social education and contribute to community safety objectives (with CIs Dr Victoria Foster and Anne Hayes). This project was funded by Liverpool John Moores University and the Rayne Foundation.

Other activities

Laura is a member of the British Society of Criminology, the Social Policy Association, the National Association for Youth Justice, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, and the Howard League for Penal Reform. 


Kelly, L. and Munro, E. (2018), Youth services try to mould young people – how about they help young people mould society instead? The Conversation. 

Kelly, L, and Munro, E. (2018),  Cuts, closures… and consultations. What is next for youth policy and provision? Third Sector Research Centre Blogs. 

Kelly, L. (2018), 'SDP and youth in the global North’, in Collison, H., Darnell, S.C., Giulianotti, R. and Howe, P.D. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Sport for Development and Peace. Routledge. 

Kelly, L., Foster, V. and Hayes, A. (2017), Evaluating drama-based crime prevention: young people’s affective engagement with performance. Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion, Liverpool John Moores University. ISBN 978-0-9933614-2-5

Armitage, V., Kelly, L. and Phoenix, J. (2016), Janus-faced youth justice work and the transformation of accountability, The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 55(4): 478-495, doi: 10.1111/hojo.12181. 

Kelly, L. and Armitage V. (2015), Diverse diversions: youth justice reform, localized practices, and a ‘new interventionist diversion’?, Youth Justice, 15(2): 117-133, doi: 10.1177/1473225414558331. 

Kelly, L., Foster, V. and Hayes, A. (2015), ‘Evaluating drama-based crime prevention: problems, politics, and new directions’. In Joseph, J. and Crichlow, W. (eds.) Alternative Offender Rehabilitation and Social Justice: Arts and Physical Engagement in Criminal Justice and Community Settings. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.144-164. 

Phoenix, J. and Kelly, L. (2013), ‘You have to do it for yourself’: responsibilization in youth justice and young people’s situated knowledge of youth justice practice, British Journal of Criminology, 53(3): 419-437, doi: 10.1093/bjc/azs078. 

Kelly, L. (2013), Sports-based interventions and the local governance of youth crime and anti-social behavior, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 37(3): 261-283, doi: 10.1177/0193723512467193. 

Kelly, L. (2012), Representing and preventing youth crime and disorder: intended and unintended consequences of targeted youth programmes in England, Youth Justice, 12(2), pp.101-117, doi: 10.1177/1473225412447160. 

Kelly, L. (2011), ‘Social inclusion’ through sports-based interventions?, Critical Social Policy, 31(1), pp.126-150, doi: 10.1177/0261018310385442.

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