David Downes has been an Emeritus Professor of Social Administration in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics since 2003, having been a member of the department since first appointed to an Assistant lectureship in 1963.
He has also been a Senior Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, 1970-72, and an academic visitor at several universities in Europe and North America, including the University of Toronto, the University of California at Berkeley, the Free University of Amsterdam and the University of Bologna. He was Convenor of the Department 1991-94, and served on various School committees, including acting as Vice Chair of the Academic Board . He has served on committees of the ESRC, the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO), the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, and was a member of Liberty Council 2004-9.
He edited the British Journal of Criminology 1985-90. He is the author, editor and co-author of several works on delinquency, penal policy and criminological theory, principally The Delinquent Solution: A Study in Subcultural Theory, 1966; Gambling, Work and Leisure, 1976; (with Paul Rock) Understanding Deviance 1982, 7th. ed. (with Eugene McLaughlin) 2016; Contrasts in Tolerance: Post-War Penal Policy in the Netherlands and England and Wales 1988; and Working Out of Crime,2012. He is currently working with Tim Newburn and Paul Rock on the official history of criminal justice policy 1959-1997.