Alyson began her academic career at The University of Hull where she obtained a Masters in Historical Research and a PhD on the subject of penal policy and prison disturbances in England 1850-1920. While completing her PhD at Hull University she taught on the Economic and Social History BA and then obtained a one-year fixed-term lectureship. She taught for a short period at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln before obtaining a lectureship in criminology at the University of Bedfordshire. She then took up a post in the Department of English, History and Creative Writing at Edge hill University. She has been a Professor since 2014. Throughout her career she has also held managerial positions, including Programme Leader of Criminology at the University of Bedfordshire and Acting Head of English, History and Creative Writing at Edge Hill University. She is currently Associate Head of History, Geography and Social Sciences with specific responsibility for research and for postgraduates in the department.
Alyson’s developed PhD thesis was published by Boydell as English Society and the Prison (2003). She has published numerous chapters and articles, including an article in 2018 in the Cultural & Social History, ‘The sad demise of z.D.H38 Ernest Collins, suicide, informers and the debate on the abolition of flogging’. In March 2013, Palgrave Macmillan published her book, Inter-war Penal Policy and Crime in England: The Dartmoor Convict Prison Riot, 1932. Alyson is a critical friend for Social History and also sits on the editorial board of the Prison Service Journal. She has published four other books or edited collections.
Alyson’s other interests include heritage, especially prison tourism and prison museums, in Britain. As part of that work, she sat on the advisory panel of the major project, Lincoln Castle Revealed, through which in 2015 the Victorian men’s prison on the site of Lincoln Castle opened to the public for the first time. More recently, she developed an exhibition on the Dartmoor Prison riot of 1932 for the Dartmoor Prison Museum, Devon. Alyson has also contributed to programmes on Radio 4, for example, Rethinking Clink: History of Prison reform, and written multiple articles for the BBC History Magazine. In 2017, she gave a paper at the Home Office about her research on Motor Bandits during the inter-war era. More recently she has co-founded the research group, Research Catalyst, which is developing positive relationships between academics, library and learning services within and beyond the institution. As part of that work a major schools and societies competition is being held called Think Creative Archive, and research is ongoing on those women who have studied at Edge Hill since 1885.