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News and Blog

Here you will find a collection of the latest media engagement and Understanding Inequalities blogs, or guest blogs that UI researchers have written.


Two new research papers from the Understanding Inequalities team have highlighted the differential impact of early risk factors on childhood offending.  Dr Babak Jahanshahi, Dr Kath Murray, and Professor Susan McVie have made extensive use data from Growing Up in Scotland, a large birth cohort study, to explore factors that might help to explain why children as young as 12 get involved in offending behaviour.  


Professor Susan McVie and Dr Ben Matthews have authored a third data report scrutinising the police use of Fixed Penalty Noticed (FPNs) under the temporary powers introduced by the Coronavirus Regulations to help stop the spread of the virus. This report examines all FPNs issued between March and December 2020.  It represents the most detailed analysis for any UK police force of how many FPNs were issued, who received them, and where and when FPNs were issued.  Importantly, it also shows how rates and patterns of enforcement changed over time.  


Professor Susan McVie has authored a data report on the number of charges reported by Police Scotland under the Coronavirus Regulations between March 2020 and June 2021 to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).  The report examines the number of charges reported to COPFS, the prosecutorial decisions that were taken in these cases and the outcomes of disposals.  The data provide assurance that a very small proportion of all pandemic related policing activity resulted in a report to the COPFS and that decisions made in respect of these charges were broadly in line with usual


Four new short research videos have been published by the UI team to demonstrate some of the key findings from their research. The videos are designed for a range of audiences and can be used as a short introduction to inequalities on a range of topics, including: the impact of childhood inequalities on later life outcomes, the unequal risks of offending and justice system contact, the decentralisation of poverty and its unequal effect on different populations, and the use of AI techniques to improve effectiveness and equity of police service delivery.


UI Director, Professor Susan McVie, and two of the UI researchers, Dr Ben Matthews and Dr Kath Murray, have been successful in securing funding from the UKRI’s Covid-19 Rapid Response Call for a project titled ‘Policing the Pandemic: The Role Of Enforcement In Securing Compliance With The Coronavirus Regulations.


Previous UI researcher, Dr Francesca Fiori, has been awarded a Research Re-Boot Grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She will use the funding to re-start a UI research project on childhood inequalities that was halted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Moray House School of Education and Sport is seeking to appoint a committed and enthusiastic Research Associate to work with Professor Cristina Iannelli and Dr Adriana Duta on the ESRC-funded Understanding Inequalities (UI) project.


The University of Edinburgh Law School is seeking to appoint dynamic, committed and enthusiastic Research Assistants to work with Professor Susan McVie, Professor Lesley McAra and Dr Paul Norris on the ESRC-funded Understanding Inequalities (UI) project.

Working as part of a small team, the Research Assistants will be responsible for conducting analysis of quantitative data from one of three large-scale datasets: the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, the Growing Up in Scotland study or the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime. 

Professor Gwilym Pryce

Professor Gwilym Pryce has written an opinion piece on the deep inequalities that exist in the UK  and the 'levelling up' agenda.

Barnsley's betrayal exposes 'levelling up' partisanship | The Yorkshire Post

“Regional and neighbourhood inequalities exist not just in income but also in education, employment, pollution and exposure to crime. But, because government departments focus on particular areas of inequality in isolation, policies can be introduced that reduce inequality in one area only to worsen it in others.”
– Professor Gwilym Pryce


The ESRI is currently recruiting a tenure-track quantitative sociologist in the Social Research Division of the ESRI, which consists of a multi-disciplinary team of sociologists, economists, epidemiologists, psychologists, health service researchers and statisticians.

It intends to appoint at Research Officer level although the appointment may be made at Senior Research Officer level if appropriate to the successful candidate’s skills and experience.


Professor Jon Bannister comments on violent crime and school exclusion in the programme made in memory of London Headmaster Philip Lawrence who was stabbed to death at his school 25 years ago.

Professor Cristina Iannelli

Professor Cristina Iannelli has written an opinion piece on social inequalities in labour market outcomes among graduates, highlighting that education is not always the great equaliser that it is assumed to be. 

A degree helps, but doesn't guarantee social mobility | Scotland | The Times

“Policies that offer sustained support are needed to ensure people from low socio-economic groups can reap the benefits associated with a degree.
Adequate grants, mentoring and career advice are among the provisions that would help students smoothly transition into good graduate jobs.”

– Professor Cristina Iannelli


Professor Susan McVie, Director of the Understanding Inequalities project, joins the 2020 cohort of elected Fellow of the prestigious Academy of Social Sciences.


Darren McGarvey's Scotland documentary series is nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Factual Series. Professor Susan McVie, Director of the Understanding Inequalities project, featured in episode 2 of the documentary series

Dr Bożena Wielgoszewska, Professor Cristina Iannelli and Dr Adriana Duta

Dr Bożena Wielgoszewska (UCL, Social Research Institute), Professor Cristina Iannelli and Dr Adriana Duta (both University of Edinburgh) discuss the findings of their new study, which highlights inequalities in graduates’ career paths based on their parents’ social class.

Dr Francesca Fiori

Gender is a key issue for employability policy. Dr Francesca Fiori reflects on discussions with representatives from the Scottish Government and third sector organisations on research evidence that children living with a working lone mother have a higher level of wellbeing.


Penalties against people breaking Covid-19 lockdown regulations in Scotland were issued disproportionately in the most deprived communities, research by Professor Susan McVie shows.


Professor Gwilym Pryce, Co-Director of the Understanding Inequalities project, is launching a new project drawing together research on social frontiers on Thursday 10th September 2020.


Professor Susan McVie appears in the episode on ‘How Scotland Cut Violent Crime’ with Kate Silverton and Police Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit which aired on Monday 13th July.

Monsuru Adepeju, Samuel Langton and Kitty Lymperopoulou

Since the 1990s, there has been a dramatic drop in crime levels across many developed countries. At the same time crime continues to be concentrated in particular deprived places. With much of the attention paid to the absolute crime performances in places, the relative inequalities in the exposure to crime have been largely neglected. Examining relative inequalities matters because they are associated with individual wellbeing and a range of social outcomes. We studied how relative crime trajectories for the period 2007-2016 are associated with levels of deprivation in Glasgow (Scotland) and Birmingham (England), which both suffer from high levels of deprivation.​


Professor Susan McVie, Director of the Understanding Inequalities project, featured in Darren McGarvey's Scotland documentary series which is nominated for two awards.

Bernard Fingleton, Daniel Olner and Gwilym Pryce

This blog, for the Journal of Urban Studies Blog, is drawn from a recent paper by Fingleton, Olner and Pryce - Estimating the local employment impacts of immigration: A dynamic spatial panel model, published by the Journal of Urban Studies. 

Gwilym Pryce, Bernie Fingleton, Dan Olner

New research by Pryce, Fingleton and Olner looks at the impact of EU migrant workers on local UK labour markets and explores what this may mean for UK immigration policies. 

Read the piece in full via The Conversation:

Immigration: there is a gaping hole in the debate over how it affects everyone’s job prospects | The Conversation


Kitty Lymperopoulou and Jon Bannister
Scotland, like other Western societies, has experienced a sustained crime drop. Police recorded crime statistics (Scottish Government, 2019) show a 57% fall in crime since the early 1990’s. Glasgow, once notorious as the “murder capital of Europe”, is now seen to be driving Scotland’s recent dramatic reduction in violent crime (BBC Scotland, 2019). The number of violent crime offences in Greater Glasgow halved between 2002 and 2015, while violent crime offences fell by a third. A variety of reasons have been put forward to explain the crime drop at the national level.
Dan Olner

The English Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) ranks over thirty-two thousand small-scale zones in England from most to least deprived, using a combination of seven different factors to create a single deprivation index.

Ben Matthews and Susan McVie

UK-based criminologists who work with linked administrative datasets often cast an envious eye over to the Scandinavian countries, where information about an individual’s criminal convictions is securely linked together with a wide range of other personal data through ‘register’ based systems.

Dr Ben Matthews and Dr Josiah King

In June, the Scottish Government released the Reconviction Rates in Scotland statistical bulletin for the 2016/17 cohort. One of the headline figures in this bulletin is the reconviction rate[1], calculated as the percentage of offenders who have been reconvicted within follow-up of one year.

Congratulations to Understanding Inequalities Director Professor Susan McVie and Co-Investigator Professor Lesley McAra on receiving the 2019 ESRC Impact Prize for Outstanding Public Policy in July.  

Professor Susan McVie

The latest findings from the Growing Up in Scotland study were published last week.  The study found that most 12-year olds were sociable children who made friends easily in their transition to secondary school, were enthusiastic about staying on in education beyond the age of 16 and were positive about their general sense of life satisfaction.  However, there were also some negative findings in the report.

Dr Kath Murray

This UI blog looks at how recording practices in the Scottish criminal justice system can impact on the quality of statistics produced by public agencies and the implications of this for research on inequalities.

Adriana Duta, Francesca Fiori and Cristina Iannelli

Closing the educational attainment gap is a top policy priority in Scotland and rightly so; inequalities in educational attainment continue to be stark and this, in turn, hinders young people’s opportunities for social mobility. In 2017, the percentage of pupils attaining at least one Higher or more was twice as high in the most advantaged areas compared to the most disadvantaged areas (as shown in the graph below). In fact, inequalities would be even more pronounced if we were to look at the proportions attaining 3+ qualifications.

The Understanding Inequalities (UI) research team invites all researchers, policy makers and practitioners working in the field of social and spatial inequalities to save the date for the upcoming 2020 International Conference.

Understanding Inequalities Director Professor Susan McVie and UI Co-Investigator Professor Lesley McAra have been shortlisted for this year's ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize for their work on the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime: increasing the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland.

Professor Gwilym Pryce

Is it racism? Or is there another explanation? Understanding Inequalities Co-Director Gwilym Pryce writes about the concerning pattern emerging in Glasgow's housing market

Read Gwilym's article in full at The Conversation website.

Dr Ben Matthews

Dr Ben Matthews has written a guest blog for the Howard League Scotland Spring 2019 bulletin about his research into the links between neighbourhood deprivation and rates of imprisonment in Scotland's largest city.

You can find Ben's piece on page 51 of the bulletin:

Howard League for Penal Reform Scotland Spring 2019 - Early Career Academics Network Bulletin

Professor Susan McVie was interviewed by the BBC regarding the recent increase in knife crime in England and the suggested link between the rise in violent crime and school exclusion rates.

Read the piece, by Nichola Rutherford, in full on the BBC website:

Is there a link between Scotland's exclusion rates and knife crime? - BBC News Scotland

Professor Susan McVie was quoted in The Times regarding the propose changes to the Census in Scotland, with the Scottish Government proposing to add two questions, posed on a voluntary basis, regarding gender identity and sexual orientation to the 2021 census, via the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) bill.

View the article via The Times website. (Please note this article is behind a paywall.)

Susan McVie discusses the complex overlapping factors contributing to the increase in knife crime in England and Wales

Read the article in full:

Why it's so hard to blame a rise in UK knife crime on police cuts | Wired


Susan McVie, Ellie Bates, Rebecca Pillinger

Susan McVie, Ellie Bates, and Rebecca Pillinger examine long-term change in violence within Greater London and the old Strathclyde region and ask whether there really is evidence of Scottish exceptionalism in patterns and trends in violence.

This guest post for the LSE British Policy and Politics blog was published on Monday 17th December 2018. Read the blog in full here:

 Understanding Inequalities Co-Director Gwilym Pryce discusses changing patterns of inequality in Scotland for iNews, published on 7th November 2018.

Read the article in full:

Inequality in Scotland has got worse in the last 20 years, finds report | iNews

Professor Gwilym Pryce and Dr Meng Le Zhang

UI Co-Director Gwilym Pryce and Dr Meng Le Zhang wrote a piece for The Conversation, published on Wednesday 7th November,  which looks at various aspects of inequality in Scotland in the two decades since the enactment of the Scotland Act in 1998.

Read the piece in full:

Inequality in Scotland: despite Nordic aspirations, things are not improving | The Conversation

Dr Ben Matthews and Professor Susan McVie

In the latest edition of Howard League Scotland's Critical Issues in Penal Policy series, Ben Matthews and Susan McVie reflect on the relationship between imprisonment and inequalities in Scotland.

Read their blog in full at the Howard League Scotland website:

Critical Issues in Scottish Penal Policy: Inequality & Imprisonment