Dr McCarney is a psychologist who taught for 13 years in Secondary Schools in Northern Ireland where he concentrated on working with disaffected, underachieving, boys aged 11-18 years old. He then moved to St Marys College, a Department of the Queens University of Belfast, which concentrates on teacher training. He lectured there for 21 years. His task was to show future teachers how informal teaching methods could help disaffected young people, preventing them from dropping out of school and keep them from getting on the wrong side of the law.
He is a past member of the British Psychological Society and the British Society of Criminology.
He is a Justice of the Peace for the City of Belfast.
He was a Lay Magistrate in Northern Ireland for 33 years (1976 to 2008). He sat in the Youth Court dealing with young offenders aged 10 to 18 and in the Family Proceedings Court dealing with children in need of care and protection aged 0 to 18.
He has edited a number of books and is author of numerous articles on youth justice and child welfare. He was Editor of the Northern Ireland Lay Magistrates Associations The Lay Magistrate for 26 years - from 1982 to 2008. He edited a magazine for the British Juvenile and Family Courts Society from 1990-1998. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Chronicle the magazine of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates from 1991 until 2006. It was published bi-annually in English, French and Spanish. He was appointed by the Justice Academy of Turkey in 2009 as an Academic Referee for their Law Journal.
Dr McCarney is a past Chairman of the Northern Ireland Lay Magistrates Association and a past Chairman of the British Juvenile and Family Courts Society (now renamed Children Law UK). He was President of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates from 2002 to 2006.
He has worked for UNODC, UNDP, UNICEF, the Council of Europe and a number of NGOs as an international consultant with expertise in training judges in the area of juvenile justice.
The following list of publications is not exhaustive:
The Human Rights Act Will Shake Up the Entire Legal System, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 43, April 2000
Human Rights: An Illusive Ideal, Chronicle Editorial, No 1. Vol. 9, July 2000
Moving Experiences, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 44, Sept 2000
Divorce in NI A Way Forward, Response to Consultation Paper, NIJCA Magazine, Vol 44 Sept 2000
Future of Juvenile Justice Centre Estate, Response to Consultation Paper, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 44, Sept 2000
The ECHR and the Right to Education, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 44, Sept 2000
The ECHR and Judicial Training in Kosovo, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 44, Sept. 2000
The Case of Jody and Mary: A Question of Law or a Question of Ethics? Chronicle Editorial, No. 2, Vol. 9, Dec. 2000
Review of the Criminal Justice System in NI, Response to Consultation Paper, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 45, April 2001
NI To Have a Commissioner for Children, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 45, April 2001
Dead Men Walking: The Bulger Killers Are Released But to What Future? Chronicle Editorial, No 1, Vol. 10, July 2001
The Role of Lay Members in the NI Judicial System, NIJCA Magazine, Vol. 46, Sept. 2001
Restorative Justice: An International, Perspective, Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, Monterey, Nov. 2001
UN Instruments Concerning Juvenile Justice: The Importance of International Norms and Standards, Family Law Journal
Alternatives to Residential Care, Caul, McCarney, Cunningham (Eds), Polytechnic Series, 1984
Conference Proceedings: The Impact of 25 Years of Violence on Young People, The International Association of Juvenile & Family Court, 1995, ISBN : 92 9159 000 2
Juvenile Delinquents and Young People in Danger in an Open Environment, Waterside Press (Dr W McCarney, Ed.), 1996, ISBN : 1 872 870 39 2
The Brixton Lectures, BJFCS (Dr W McCarney, Ed.), 1997, ISBN 0 9515268 1 2
Les Droits de lHomme Training Manual for Judges, Chapter 8 The Administration of Juvenile Justice by Dr W McCarney & Prof. Jean Trepanier (Canada), UN Committee on Human Rights, 2001
Psychological Perspectives on Serious Criminal Risk, Dr W McCarney and Mr D Curran (Eds), BPS, April 1999
NI Youth Service Policy Review, Dr W McCarney et al, 2000
Best Practice Manual on Juvenile Justice in Africa: Acted as a Consultant to South African colleagues in the University of the Western Cape on the production of a Best Practice manual on Juvenile Justice in Africa published 2005.
The Globalisation of Child and Family Law: (Chapter in); Juta Law Publications, Cape Town; 2008
A Restorative Justice Approach To Working With Children In Residential Care, published by the Justice Academy of Turkey in the first issue of Law and Justice Review on September 20, 2010.
Children in Institutions, Human Rights Review, Vol 1, Issue 1, published by the Justice Academy of Turkey, April 2011.
Children in Institutions, in A Tribute to Tetsuya Fujimoto published by CHUO University Press, Tokyo, Japan, April 2011
Detached Youth Work, NYC (Leicester), 1978
Truancy: An Investigation Into The Use of Off-Site Centres, DENI, 1977 (Part 1), 1978 (Part 2)
Glue Sniffing - Intervention Strategies, St Josephs College of Ed., 1981
Agencies Sharing The Task, Whitefield House - 10th, 1988 (Anniversary Conference Report)