Dr Sally Atkinson-Sheppard

Sally Atkinson-Sheppard was awarded her PhD from King’s College London after completing an ethnographic study into street children’s involvement in organised crime in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Sally began her career as a researcher for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London, where she worked with young offenders engaged in violent offending, developed the MPS first Gangs Manual and represented the MPS in a collaborative study with the British Prison Service which explored the psychology of gang related violence. Sally went on to advise on a variety of criminal justice reform projects in Bangladesh, including leading the Bangladesh Prison Directorate and the Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission through the development of their first strategic plans. She then lived in Beijing for 3 years where she led a study into migrant children’s involvement in gangs and organised crime in China. Sally now works as a lecturer in Criminology at the University of Westminster.

Sally’s research has been published in various journals including the British Journal of Criminology, Critical Criminology, the Asian Journal of Criminology, Child Abuse and Neglect and the Journal of Public Health among others. Her first book: The Gangs of BangladeshMastaans, Street Gangs and ‘Illicit Child Labourers’ in Dhaka. Palgrave Macmillan was awarded the Asian Society of Criminology distinguished book award in 2020. Sally frequently presents her work at international conferences and universities including the University of Cambridge, Oxford University, King’s College London, Hong Kong University and the University of Dhaka.


Sally’s current research focuses on county lines in the UK, specifically coercion, control and young people’s agency. She is involved in studies which consider street children’s relationship with play and the UNCRC and gang member life histories. Sally’s research also develops comparative analysis of street children’s involvement in gangs and organised crime in Asia (notably Bangladesh, China and Nepal) and, in collaboration with colleagues in Nepal, the first study into street children’s involvement in gangs and organised crime in Kathmandu. She is writing her second book, ‘Through the lens of labour: developing pan-Asia understandings of young people’s involvement in gangs and organised crime’. The book will propose and develop a new theoretical framework for considering juvenile offending ‘through the lens of labour’.

  • Centre for Social Justice Research