She was born in Falkirk and grew up in the village of Redding near Polmont. She trained as a nurse and by her late teens worked in Accident and Emergency. She continued to work in nursing while she studied for a BSc in psychology and then a master's in offender profiling.
In 2004, the McCluskey was asked to put together a report on how to reduce rates of violence in Glasgow. The contents of report were accepted and this led directly to the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) being created.
In February 2016 she was appointed to the board of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) as a non-executive director.
In September 2016, she was named chief executive of Community Justice Scotland, a new national organisation that would come into existence in April 2017.
Awards and honours
In October 2015, McCluskey was bestowed with an honorary degree from the Open University.
- Henley, Jon (19 December 2011). "Karyn McCluskey: the woman who took on Glasgow's gangs". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Ross, Peter (24 November 2014). "No mean citizens: The success behind Glasgow's VRU". The Scotsman. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Geoghegan, Peter (6 April 2015). "Glasgow smiles: how the city halved its murders by 'caring people into change'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Paterson, Stewart (1 February 2016). "Violence Reduction Unit director Karyn McCluskey joins SPFL board". The Herald. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Cameron, Neil (9 February 2016). "Meet Karyn McCluskey, the impressive woman who wants to change the behaviour in Scottish football grounds". The Herald. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
- "Leaders named for new body to combat reoffending". The Journal. Law Society of Scotland. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
- Cardwell, Paul (27 October 2015). "Honorary Open University degree for third sector stalwart". Third Force News. Retrieved 8 January 2017.