‘A wee kick up the arse’: Mentoring, motivation and desistance from crime

Steve Kirkwood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mentoring is an increasingly popular approach for supporting people who have a history of offending. Previous research provides some evidence that it may contribute to reductions in offending behaviour and support desistance from crime. The present study analysed interviews with 33 people who used mentoring services in Scotland to examine the relationships between mentoring, motivation and desistance. The findings suggest that the offer of mentoring may translate a general desire to change into motivation by providing the means to achieve this change. Mentoring may help people develop ‘hooks for change’ through practical assistance that leads to positive changes and by encouraging people see the value of such changes. Mentors can also model ways of being that outline possible future selves and services can structure in pro-social activities that support stakes in conformity. The article contributes to theoretical understandings of motivation and desistance by specifying the interplay of agency and structure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
Early online date8 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2021


  • mentoring
  • desistance
  • motivation
  • re-offending
  • identity


Dive into the research topics of '‘A wee kick up the arse’: Mentoring, motivation and desistance from crime'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this