The World Prison Research Programme

The World Prison Research Programme builds on the success of the World Prison Brief, ICPR's internationally renowned online database on prisons and the use of imprisonment around the world.

This programme seeks to inform and enhance policy and practice in the use of imprisonment, helping to make the case for more proportionate penal policies and greatly reduced use of imprisonment worldwide. The projects pursued under this programme are intended to: provide a better understanding of how and why imprisonment is used in response to crime, both pre-trial and at sentencing; highlight the risks, harms and costs of excessive resort to custody; and identify a range of workable measures to reduce the use of imprisonment, capable of use both in developed and developing states.

ICPR's prison studies team: Jessica Jacobson (ICPR Director); Catherine Heard (Programme Director); Helen Fair (Research Fellow).

World Prison Brief data are compiled by Roy Walmsley, with assistance from ICPR's prison studies team.

City.Risks: Avoiding and mitigating safety risks in urban environments

City.Risks ( is a European project involving five European partners; The UK (London), Bulgaria (Sofia), Italy (Rome), Greece (Athens) and Sweden (Malmo). The aim of the project is to increase the perception of security amongst citizens who live and/or work in the city through the use of smart phone technology.

The project will develop a mobile phone app that proactively disseminates information and provides interventions to protect citizens from falling victim to crime as well as reactively providing timely and effective responses and assistance. Citizens' smart phones are viewed as the modern tool for increasing a personal and collective sense of security. The mobile phone app will allow users to collect, visualise and share safety-critical information with the appropriate authorities and communities.


What Works Centre for Crime Reduction

ICPR is part of an academic consortium that has won a £3.3million grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the College of Policing to mount a three-year programme of work to build more evidence around what really works in reducing crime. The consortium of eight institutions is led by University College London (UCL).

The College of Policing will host the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction - one of six centres set up to improve policy decision-making across public services. The consortium will map the existing evidence base for crime reduction, label it for quality, cost and impact, and make it easily accessible for practitioners and decision makers. The role of ICPR is to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the What Works Centre.

Main contact: Professor Mike Hough


Understanding and Preventing Youth Crime (UPYC)

UPYC is a theory-testing, comparative survey of youth misbehaviour and crime in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. UPYC is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The survey asks school children aged 12 to 15 years about their experiences of crime, victimisation, substance use, and their attitude towards offending. It also asks about children's everyday lives, including their attachment to school and attitude to learning. The study forms part of the International Self-Report Delinquency study (ISRD), a city-based survey conducted by a collaborative network of around 30 countries. In each country, the survey is conducted in two large cities, with approximately 900 children participating in each city. In the UK, the survey is taking place in Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow. For more information, see

Main contacts: Prof Mike Hough


Developing an evidence-based approach to police graduate training

ICPR, together with Birkbeck's Department of Organizational Psychology, is engaged in a Home Office-funded project which also involves collaboration with the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the Jill Dando Institute, University College London and eight UK police forces. The project aims to develop the training curriculum for police graduate recruits to include - and encourage further discussion about - evidence-informed practice; and to evaluate the response to this training, including its usefulness and application in post training placements.

Contacts: Gillian Hunter and Tiggey May.

Study of professional enablers & money launderers involved in organised crime

ICPR has secured funding from the Dawes Trust to conduct a follow-up study to its prior research into the policing of organised crime groups involved in fraud. The current study seeks an understanding of how and in what way organised criminals infiltrate the legal and financial professions. The research will explore the extent to which professionals (solicitors, accountants, financial advisers, mortgage advisers, banking employees) are, variously, persuaded, enticed, coerced or duped into assisting OCGs. This information will suggest methods by which regulators and enforcement professionals can narrow the opportunities open to organised criminals to co-opt professional services.

Contacts: Tiggey May and Bina Bhardwa

Learning from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowships

ICPR is preparing a series of briefings which present learning from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Prison Reform Fellowships. The Fellowships, arranged in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust and conducted from 2010 to 2015, explored ways in which other countries respond to crime and whether similar approaches can be adopted in England and Wales.

Contacts: Helen Fair and Jessica Jacobson

The use of restorative approaches in resolving conflict in prisons

ICPR is providing research support for a pilot project, delivered by Restorative Solutions, on the use of restorative approaches to resolve conflict in prisons. The project entails training and assisting both staff and prisoners to carry out restorative interventions when conflicts arise between prisoners and between prisoners and staff.

Contacts: Helen Fair and Jessica Jacobson