Madeline Petrillo

Dr Madeline Petrillo BA, MSc, PG Cert, PhD

Associate Professor in Criminology; Interim Lead - Centre for Communities and Social Justice

Key details

Dr Madeline Petrillo

Associate Professor in Criminology; Interim Lead - Centre for Communities and Social Justice

Madeline Petrillo joined the School of Law and Criminology as a Senior Lecturer in Criminology in January 2021. Madeline’s teaching specialisms include desistance and rehabilitation, constructions of deviance, women’s experiences of the justice system, pathways to offending, and community justice.

Madeline obtained her PhD from the University of Portsmouth, her MSc in Criminology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and BA(Hons) in Modern Languages from the University of Bristol.  Madeline also holds professional qualifications; a BA(Hons)/Dip.  Probation Studies from the University of Hertfordshire and a PG Cert in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy from the University of East London.

Prior to entering academia, Madeline worked as a Probation Officer for eleven years in London and Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.  She was also formerly Course Leader for the Professional Qualification in Probation.


Responsibilities within the university

Module Leader: Understanding Deviance (level 4)

Research / Scholarly interests

Madeline’s research focuses on the experiences of women in the justice system.  Her doctoral research explored women’s experiences of attempting to leave crime behind after prison.  This was a longitudinal, qualitative study examining desistance from gender-responsive, trauma-informed perspective.  Madeline’s current research focuses on trauma-informed practice and interventions in prisons and probation.

Funded research projects

Healing Trauma pilot evaluation (Jan-Dec 2018)

This project examined women's experiences of participating in ‘Healing Trauma’; a gender‐responsive, trauma‐informed intervention delivered in women's prisons in England.  Thirty women at seven prisons were involved in the research.  The pilot evaluation involved pre- and post-group tests that measured changes in symptoms of trauma, including depression, anxiety and PTSD which revealed noteworthy reductions in symptoms related to trauma.  Six focus groups were carried out on completion of the intervention to further explore the experiences behind these changes.  The findings are presented in Petrillo, M., Thomas, M. and Hanspal, S.E., (2019). Healing Trauma Evaluation Report.

HMIP Working with adult trauma in probation (March-August 2021)

This project, commissioned by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, aims to explore how probation services work with those service users who have experienced trauma.

Those who are in contact with the criminal justice system are significantly more likely to have experienced trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  Working with a probation population in a trauma-informed way is thus appropriate and likely to produce benefits for service users and society.  Trauma informed practice (TIP) aims to increase service providers’ awareness of how trauma can negatively impact on service users, so that they can avoid practices that might inadvertently cause further trauma.  This project aims to identify the extent to which trauma informed practice is embedded across probation services.  It also aims to identify examples of trauma-specific services for service users who have particular experiences of trauma, for example work with military personnel diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with sex workers, or other service users who have been identified as having experienced trauma.  This research project intends to identify and highlight enablers and good practice examples, as well as challenges, in relation to working with trauma within adult probation services.

Media activity

Petrillo, M. Breaking the silence. Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. Nov 2015-Jul 2016

Comment series on the experiences of women in prison.

Recent publications

Book Chapter

Petrillo, M., (2016). ‘It Made My Mind Unwell’: Trauma-Informed Approaches to the Mental Health Needs of Women in the Criminal Justice System. In J. Winstone. (Ed.). Mental health, crime and criminal justice: Responses and reforms (pp. 131-146). Palgrave Macmillan, London

Journal articles
Other publications