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Our research

Research forms an important part of our inspection evidence. We gather and analyse quantitative and qualitative data about prisons and other places of detention. These findings are triangulated with other forms of evidence (inspectors’ observations and discussion with staff and detainees) to come to judgements about establishments.

The Research, Data and Thematic (RDT) team at HMI Prisons is made up of 12 researchers. Nearly all belong to the Government Social Research Service, a professional body for social researchers in government.

HMI Prisons also employs undergraduate students to work as research trainees during their placement year.

Find out more about what research trainees do.

Project with Royal Holloway University of London

We have been conducting prisoner and detainee surveys for over 20 years. This has generated a unique database of historic survey data from at least 100,000 respondents, with more than 10 million analysable responses.

Although we have always published our findings, the raw data has not been available for further research purposes. Now, a research team from the Department of Law and Criminology at Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL), has obtained a grant from the ESRC’s Secondary Data Analysis Initiative to study this data for the first time.

Find out more about the project with Royal Holloway.