McCarthy is currently Professor in Criminology in the Department of Sociology/Co-Director of the Centre for Criminology. He specialises in research in areas of policing, inter-agency working, and more latterly in the area of prison/family effects and incarceration. He also has interests in research methodology, especially mixed method designs.
McCarthy's wider interests concern the effects of family contact on prisoner re-entry, the impact of prison conditions on prisoner behaviour during and beyond their sentence, as well as more generally in the application of criminological theory. He is author of 'Soft Policing: The Collaborative Control of Anti-Social Behaviour' (Palgrave, 2014), as well as numerous articles in the fields of criminology and sociology. He has received several grants and awards including the 2014 British Society of Criminology (Policing Network) award, the 2014 Economic and Social Research Council, Future Leaders Award, as well as the 2015 Vice Chancellor's 'Researcher of the Year' Award.
McCarthy's research assesses the ways through which caregivers (especially mothers) seek to support young men during incarceration, including the multitude of adversities which are created through this deployment of support. His core areas of investigation currently concern:
- The ways through which juvenile incarceration compounds pre-existing forms of social disadvantage experienced by caregivers, focusing on aspects of mental health, social networks, poverty, family conflict and social stigma.
- Why some relationships get better or worse during incarceration, including the social mechanisms underpinning these changes.
- How caregiver stigma affects decisions to confide and seek support from persons within and beyond their social networks
- What role caregivers can play in desistance and resettlement through their deployment of support
McCarthy is also involved in a new project examining the effects of Covid-19 on policing strategies (with Drs Lawrence Ho, Education University of Hong Kong and Jason Chan, City University Hong Kong). He is also developing research on global understandings of punishment through public opinion data.
Postgraduate research supervision
- Melissa Pepper (3rd year PhD) Doing more with less: The use of volunteers in policing
- Annie Bunce (2nd year PhD) Offender motivation in the context of prison programmes
- Charlotte Dodds (2nd year PhD) The Partners of Prisoners
- Henriikka Stranden (1st year PhD) Artificial intelligence and prediction of crime.
Completed postgraduate research projects I have supervised
Serena Wright (graduated 2014) 'Persistent' and 'prolific' offending across the lifecourse as experienced by women.
I am keen to supervise new PhD students and would welcome applications across most criminological areas, but especially in the following topics:
- Imprisonment, especially its social effects
- Prisoner-family ties, visitation and resettlement
- Family adversity and conflict, with reference to gender and race
- Inter-agency working in criminal justice and social welfare
- Policing, especially in areas of gender and police culture
- Theoretical and methodological studies, with reference to criminology and social problems.
Applied Criminological Theories (Level 2)Youth, Crime, Control (Level 3)Law, Society, Social Control (Masters).