Accessibility statement

Professor Sharon Grace

BSocSc (Manchester), MA(Econ) (Manchester)

  • Deputy Dean of School
  • Professor in Crime and Social Policy
  • Chair of the Equality and Diversity Committee

Visit Sharon Grace's profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse her research related activities.



Areas of expertise

  • Criminal Justice Policy and Practice
  • Drug Policy and Practice
  • Women drug users
  • Women offenders with complex needs/vulnerabilities


It was while studying for my first degree in Social Policy at Manchester that I first developed an interest in criminology - an interest which has subsequently dictated my whole career. My Masters degree, was not, as the title might suggest, in Economics but in Applied Social Research. My dissertation looked at the ways in which the media represent women who kill.

I joined the Home Office Research and Planning Unit in 1989 and over the following ten years conducted and managed research in a number of areas: women and the criminal justice system, child witnesses, rape, domestic violence, legal controls of obscene materials, and policing and prosecution. I also spent a fascinating year at the Crown Prosecution Service managing their research programme. This year sparked an interest in the relationship between the police and the CPS in the prosecution process which has usefully fed into my teaching at York.

Having moved to York in 1999, I worked freelance for the Home Office for five years (while bringing up my two children) mainly as an editor and proof reader and undertaking small research projects. In 2003 I was invited by Hull University to do some guest lecturing. A similar collaboration with York then followed - finally resulting in my coming to teach on the crime pathway in the Applied Social Science degree in 2005. In 2012, we also launched a BA in Criminology which is a combined degree taught by Social Policy and Sociology. Ten very busy years of curriculum development followed.

In 2014, I was able to transfer to a research active role. Since then I have been conducting research predominantly in the field of women, criminal justice and drug use. I was involved in an evaluation of pilot Drug Recovery Wings in two women prisons in the UK examining the effectiveness of this approach to aiding women to recover from their drug use the results of which were published in an article for Criminology and Criminal Justice. I then conducted a review of what works for drug using women offenders which was published in the Journal of Substance Use.

Most recently I have worked on several projects relating to drugs, policing and sex work: looking at Spice use on release from prison (with Charlie Lloyd and Amanda Perry); examining the policing of cannabis possession in North Yorkshire (with Charlie Lloyd and Geoff Page); and evaluating the sex worker liaison officer role in West Yorkshire (with Kate Brown).

I am also a founder member of the Criminal Women: Voice, Justice and Recognition research network which aims to develop writing and research which foregrounds women’s voices in criminal justice matters. Our first book as a network was published in 2022 with Bristol University Press: Grace, S; O'Neill, M; Walker, T; King, H; Baldwin, L; Jobe, A; Lynch, O; Measham, F; O'Brien, K; and Seaman, V (2022) Criminal Women: Gender Matters. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

I am a co-applicant of the ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre and will be conducting a study on the policing of homelessness as part of Workstrand 2. 


Research interests and current projects

  • Criminal justice, particularly gender matters; Illicit drug use particularly interventions with women who use drugs.
  • Currently undertaking work on Spice use on release from prison; and policing the possession of cannabis.

PHD supervision interests

  • Criminal justice policy and practice
  • Drug policy and practice
  • Women drug users
  • Women offenders with complex needs/vulnerabilities (including drug use)



Grace, S., O'Neill, M. Walker, T., King, H., Baldwin, L. et al. (2022) Criminal Women: Gender Matters, Bristol University Press. 

Journal articles

  • Grace, S; Lloyd, C and Page, G (2022) ''What discretion do you need?' Factors influencing police decision-making in possession of cannabis offences'. Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • O'Malley, L and Grace, S (2021) Social capital and co-location: A case study of policing anti-social behaviour. International Journal of Police Science and Management. 23(3), pp306-316.  
  • Grace, S.; Lloyd, C. and Perry, A. (2019) ‘The Spice Trail: transitions in synthetic cannabis receptor agonists (SCRAs) use in English prisons and on release’. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, DOI: 10.1080/09687637.2019.1684878
  • Brown, K; Redman, S and Grace, S (2019) Policing Vulnerability: Learning from sex work liaison officer role in West Yorkshire Police N8 Policing Research Partnership.
  • Lloyd, C.; Page, G.; Grace, S. and Sellers, M. (2018) Policing Cannabis in North Yorkshire. N8 Policing Research Partnership Final Report.
  • Grace, S. (2017) ‘Effective interventions for drug using women offenders: a narrative literature review’. Journal of Substance Use, Vol 22(6) pp664-671.
  • Grace, S Page, G., Lloyd, C., Templeton, L., Kougali, Z., McKeganey, N., Liebling, A., Roberts, P. & Russell, C. (2016). ‘Establishing a Corstonian continuous care pathway for drug using female prisoners: linking Drug Recovery Wings and Women’s Community Services’. Criminology and Criminal Justice, Vol 16(5) pp 602-621.
  • Grace, S (2017). Effective Interventions for drug using women offenders: a narrative literature review. Journal of Substance use
  • Grace, S., Page, G., Lloyd, C., Templeton, L., Kougali, Z., McKeganey, N., ... Russell, C. (2016). Establishing a ‘Corstonian’ continuous care pathway for drug using female prisoners: linking Drug Recovery Wings and Women’s Community Services.Criminology and criminal justice.
  • Page, G., Templeton, L., Grace, S., Roberts, P., Mckegany, N., Russell, C., ... Lloyd, C. (2015). Conspicuous by their abstinence:: the limited engagement of heroin users in English and Welsh Drug Recovery Wings. International Journal of Drug Policy, 1-38. 10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.12.006.

Contact details

Professor Sharon Grace
Deputy Dean for Integration Professor in Crime and Social Policy
School of Business and Society

Tel: 01904 32 1225