Prison populations continue to rise in many parts of the world, with 11.5 million held in prisons worldwide

01 May 2024

Some 11.5 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, according to the latest edition of the World Prison Population List (WPPL), researched and compiled by Helen Fair and Roy Walmsley and published on 1 May 2024 by the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), at Birkbeck, University of London.

Catherine Heard addresses United Nations high level event on incarceration

04 Oct 2023

I was invited to speak about female imprisonment trends at an event at the UN’s headquarters in Geneva, which took place on 2 October. This was organised by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to aid implementation of the UN System’s Common Position on Incarceration (2021). Representatives from around 20 states attended as well as a similar number of civil society participants including our friends Harm Reduction International, Penal Reform International and the International Commission of Jurists.

Mandarin version of ICPR's Handbook for Prison Staff now available

21 Sep 2022
Cover of the Mandarin version of the Handbook A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management

ICPR is delighted that the third edition of our key publication A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management: Handbook for Prison Staff has been translated into Mandarin. The Handbook provides a basis for good prison management which can be applied in every prison system in the world.

The Handbook is based on the internationally agreed standards for the use of imprisonment and conditions of detention and it provides clear, practical guidance for prison staff as to their implementation. It demonstrates that as well as providing an appropriate framework for the management of prisons, the international standards can be very effective in operational terms.

ICPR wins public engagement award for its prisons research

26 Jul 2022

Birkbeck’s annual Public Engagement Awards recognise and celebrate researchers who have undertaken innovative and exemplary public engagement activities. ICPR has won this year’s Birkbeck Public Engagement award in the category of ‘public participation in research’. This category recognises projects in which the involvement of the public or various publics is an inherent part of the research process.

Bridging the gap between reformists and abolitionists: Can non-reformist reforms guide the work of prison inspectorates?

21 Mar 2022
Sarah Lamble

Dr Sarah Lamble is a Reader in Criminology and Queer Theory at the School of Law, Birkbeck and researches issues of gender, sexuality and imprisonment, as well as alternative forms of justice. Sarah is an organiser with Abolitionist Futures and a founding member of the Bent Bars Project, which coordinates a letter-writing programme for LGBTQ prisoners in Britain.

Here, Sarah reflects on Justice Edwin Cameron’s recent ICPR annual lecture, titled: 'Do prisons work? If not, do prisons inspectorates do more harm than good?’, applying the concept of ‘non-reformist’ reforms. This term, coined by Austrian philosopher André Gorz with reference to political economy, was further developed by prison abolitionists Thomas Mathieson and Angela Davis.