In the 1980s research which found that a small proportion of offenders were responsible for a significant amount of overall crime led to the emergence of academic concerns with criminal careers (Blumstein et al., 1988; Elliott, 1994; Farrington, 1995; Kempf, 1988; Petersilia, 1980; Piper, 1985; Shannon, 1991). The term ‘criminal careers’ in this context refers to the sequence of events or behaviours related to offending over the period of a lifetime, rather than referring to the manner in which an individual may sustain themselves financially (Blumstein et al., 1986). Researchers examining criminal careers have since been able to shed considerable light on the factors associated with the onset, continuation and termination of offending within an individual’s lifetime. The development of this research agenda has made it possible to elucidate the factors which are associated with the beginning of a criminal career, and also the patterns which might explain why some people persistently offend. Various factors during childhood, for example, may lead to the early development of antisocial behaviours, which may increase the likelihood of criminal behaviour and persistent offending in adolescence and adulthood (Farrington, 1986, 2007; McAra and McVie, 2012).