Professor David Downes

Professor David Downes

Department: Department of social policy| ;The ESRC research centre for analysis of social exclusion (CASE)| ;LSE health and social care| ;Mannheim centre for criminology|
Contact details: tel +44 (0)20 7955 7344;|
LSE experts: Professor Emeritus David Downes|




David Downes is Professor Emeritus of Social Administration at the London School of Economics. His main contributions to the criminological field have been:

  • a study of delinquency in east London (The Delinquent Solution, 1966);
  • a study of the major forms of gambling (main author, Gambling, Work and Leisure, 1976);
  • a text on the sociology of deviant behaviour (with Paul Rock, Understanding Deviance, 1982; 1988; 1998; 2003; 2007; sixth ed. 2011); and
  • a comparative study of penal policy in the Netherlands and England (Contrasts in Tolerance, 1988).

With Rod Morgan, he has written the chapter on 'The politics of law and order' in successive editions of the Oxford Handbook of Criminology (1994, 1997, 2002 and 2007).

He was editor of the British Journal of Criminology 1985-90, and was a founding editor of the Clarendon Studies in Criminology series for the Oxford University Press. With Paul Rock, he edits the Glasshouse (Routledge) series Contemporary Issues in Public Policy, recent additions to which have been Mental Health and Crime by Jill Peay (2011) and Immigration, Social Integration and Crime: A cross-national approach by Luigi Solivetti (2010).    

He has recently worked on the causes, character and consequences of mass imprisonment in the USA, and on comparative trends in crime, inequality, welfare services and criminal justice, with special reference to penal policy. Together with Paul Rock and Tim Newburn, he is conducting research in order to write the official history of criminal justice policies in England and Wales from 1964 to 1997. He is a member of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, and of the Howard League for Penal Reform. He was a founder member of the important but short-lived National Deviancy Conference (1968-75) and of the Labour Campaign for Criminal Justice (1978-97). He was a member of Council for Liberty 2003-9.

His recent publications include:

Downes, David (2011) Comparative criminology, globalisation and the 'punitive turn'. In: Nelken, David, (ed.) Comparative criminal justice and globalization. Ashgate. ISBN 9780754676812

Downes, David and Rock, Paul (2011) Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9780199569830

Downes, David (2011) Against penal inflation: comment on Nicola Lacey's The prisoners' dilemma. Punishment & society, 13 (1). pp. 114-120. ISSN 1462-4745

Downes, David (2010) Counterblast: What went right? New Labour and crime control. The Howard journal of criminal justice, 49 (4). pp. 394-397. ISSN 0265-5527

Downes, David, Hobbs, Dick and Newburn, Tim, (eds.) (2010) The eternal recurrence of crime and control: essays in honour of Paul Rock. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9780199580231

Downes, David (2010) Comments on Mathiesen's 'Ten reasons for not building more prisons'. In: McCarthy, Melissa, (ed.) Incarceration and human rights Image of book cover for Incarceration and human rights: the Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2007. Manchester University Press, Manchester, UK. ISBN 9780719081804