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Comparative Penology

Institute of Criminology

Studying at Cambridge


England & Wales

In England and Wales we are currently working on all four sub-studies which involves fieldwork in many different prisons and in the community. We began fieldwork in HMP Pentonville in autumn 2016 and have since visited and worked in eleven prisons around the country. More prisons are going to be added over the summer when we look into the open estate.

The prisons we spend most time in have been very accommodating in allowing us to conduct long interviews, run surveys and do participant and spatial observation. For the Entry/Exit sub-study, for example, we spend several evenings in reception observing people coming into prison and following them until they reach their cell in order to understand what the entry process is like.

In England and Wales we have conducted well over 150 interviews in the different sub-studies with many more to come.

logo The Comparative Penology Group is led by Dr Ben Crewe and his research team who, since 2016, have been working on a five-year project titled: 'Penal policymaking and the prisoner experience: a comparative analysis'.

The research is based in England & Wales, and Norway, and involves four inter-related studies of (a) penal policymaking and the penal field (b) the experience of entry into and release from custody (c) the daily experiences of female prisoners and imprisoned sex offenders, and (d) prisoners in the most secure parts of each jurisdiction's prison system.

This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).