‘Well-kent faces’: policing persistent offenders and the possibilities for desistance

Marguerite Schinkel, Colin Atkinson, Sarah Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


This article focuses on the policing of adult persistent offenders and its implications for desistance. It integrates the findings from two qualitative studies undertaken in Scotland on the experiences of those considered ‘persistent offenders’ and the police. The paper’s contribution lies in its close analysis of how adult persistent offenders and the police interact, examining factors before, during and after their encounter. We show that the police’s enforcement focus is a significant obstacle to desistance, especially as inherent in intelligence-led policing and the use of discretion towards ‘well-kent faces’. However we also note that frustration with this approach is emerging within Scottish policing and argue for a relatively modest re-orientation of police practice towards a recognition of signals of desistance.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberazy050
Pages (from-to)634-652
Number of pages19
JournalThe British Journal of Criminology; An International Review of Crime and Society
Issue number3
Early online date30 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019


  • policing
  • desistance
  • persistent offenders
  • construction of crime


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