Karen Laidler

Prof Karen A Joe Laidler


+852 3917 2059

9.18, 9/F., The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus


Karen Joe Laidler is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Criminology. Her research focuses on drugs, sex work, youth gangs, and women’s imprisonment. As a native San Franciscan, she has been involved in criminological research since the 1980s, working with non-profit organizations and government agencies in Northern California. She has worked on a variety of primary and policy related research including: evaluation of drug intervention programmes;  juvenile court intervention; inmate grievance processes; bail reform; sentencing guidelines; risk assessment for juvenile detention; prison planning and classification systems for adult prisons; and drug use problems among methamphetamine users.

She moved to Hong Kong in the 1990s, and has witnessed the development of the city’s drug market over the past two decades. Her recent projects include a study on how young people obtain their drugs and social supply, drug use and risks among young gay men, investment fraud, and social harms and service access for ethnic minority youth in Hong Kong.

She sits on the editorial board of Contemporary Drug Problems and Feminist Criminology, and on the international associate editorial/advisory board of Punishment and Society and Criminology and Criminal Justice respectively. She serves as a member of the Hong Kong Law Reform Commission’s subcommittee in a review on laws and policies related to sexual offenses.

She has held several administrative positions at HKU, including Chairman, Faculty Board, Social Sciences (2013- present), Director, Centre for Criminology (2008-present), Head of Department (2008-2011), and Associate Dean, Social Sciences (2002-2008).

Karen teaches criminology, social problems, and gender studies courses.

Courses taught


University of California, Davis

Research interests

Race and crime
Gangs and delinquency

Current research

Opening doors, creating pathways – A qualitative study of social harms and service access among ethnic minority youth (PPR)

Research project for prisoner criminogenic needs and effectiveness of intervention program (2017) (SRACP)

Investor Motivations and Fraud: Implications for Crime Prevention Education (IEC)

Assessing a framework for intimate partner violence among substance users. HKU-KCL Strategic Partnership Fund (with Puja Kapani, Faculty of Law).

Assessing the socioeconomic costs of drug abuse in Hong Kong SAR (Beat Drugs Fund, with Paul Yip)

Selected publications

Selected Journal Articles:

Coomber, R. et al., (2018) The burgeoning recognition and accommodation of the social supply of drugs in international criminal justice systems: An eleven nation comparative overview.  International Journal of Drug Policy. P. 93-103.

Joe-Laidler, K.A., Lee, M., and Wong, G. (2017) Doing Criminology on Crime and Media in Asia. Crime, Media and Culture. 13(2): 135-151.

Cassini Sai Kwan Chu & Karen Joe Laidler (2016) Becoming a Male Client of Compensated Dating, Deviant Behavior, 37:1, 47-65

Moloney, M., Hunt, G., & Joe-Laidler, K. (2015). Drug sales, gender, and risk: Notions of risk from the perspective of gang-involved young adults. Substance use & misuse, 50(6), 721-732.

Joe-Laidler, K., Hunt, G., & Moloney, M. (2014). ‘Tuned Out or Tuned In’: Spirituality and Youth Drug Use in Global Times. Past & present, 222(Suppl 9), 61-80.

Niu, X., & Laidler, K. A. (2014). Understanding Domestic Violence Against Muslim Women in China. Feminist Criminology.

Dean, M., & Laidler, K. A. J. (2014). Leveling the playing field through Facebook: how females construct online playspaces. Journal of Youth Studies, 17(1), 113-129.

Lee, M., & Laidler, K. J. (2013). Doing criminology from the periphery: Crime and punishment in Asia. Theoretical Criminology. 17(2): 141-157.

Selected Book Chapters:

McDonald, T. and Laidler, K.A. (2018) Negotiating the ethics of gendered online spaces in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Tolich, M. and  Ifophen, R. (eds.) The Sage Handbook in Qualitative Research Ethics. Sage: Thousand Oaks.

Laidler, K. J. (2016). Criminological Perspectives. The SAGE Handbook of Drug & Alcohol Studies: Social Science Approaches, 1673.

Hunt, G., & Joe‐Laidler, K. (2015). The culture and subcultures of illicit drug use and distribution. The Handbook of Drugs and Society, 460.

Laidler, K. J., & Lee, M. (2015). Border trading and policing of everyday life in Hong Kong. The Routledge handbook on crime and international migration, 316-328.

Selected Recent Invited Talks

Laidler, K. (2018) Overview of Regional Drug Threats and Policy Responses in Retentionist States. United Nations Expert Panel Meetings on Drug Related Offenses, Criminal Justice Responses and the Use of the Death Penalty in South East Asia, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Response to UNGASS 2016. (Feb)

Laidler, K. (2017) Criminology and Knowledge Production in the Greater China Region.  University of Macau. Macau. (Feb 16).

Laidler, K. (2017) Gone South: Thinking about Crime and Its Control in the Greater China Region University of Glasgow. (March)

Laidler, K. (2017) Girls, Drugs and the Governance of the Body. School of Social and Political Sciences. University of Melbourne. (July)

See all publications in HKU Scholars Hub →