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Student placements at HMI Prisons

HMI Prisons employs two research trainees per year who are undergraduate students looking to gain work experience in the criminal justice sector as part of their placement year. Our two current trainees, Isabella and Jasjeet, talk about their work for the Inspectorate.

Find out more about our research.


Photograph of Isabella, a research trainee.

I joined HMI Prisons as a Research Trainee in July 2023. I study psychology at the University of Bath and have a particular interest in the criminal justice system, forensic psychology, and social research. I applied to this placement as I knew that it would provide valuable experience.

My role involves visiting places of detention to hand out and collect detainee surveys. I really enjoy having face-to-face interactions with detainees. These experiences have provided me with real insight into life in prison. My other main tasks involve processing and analysing data collected from detainee surveys, maintaining databases and ad hoc analysis tasks. This aspect of the role has greatly improved my research and analytical skills and I know this will be valuable in my final year of studying at university and in any future jobs.

Overall, this role has been extremely rewarding and has offered a unique opportunity to visit places of detention. The role has increased my desire to improve the conditions of places of detention to ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with their human rights


I joined HMI Prisons as a Research Trainee in August 2023 on a year-long placement. I study Psychology and Criminology at City, University of London and heard about the placement through one of my professors. I decided to apply to this placement as research and the criminal justice system is something that I have been interested in particularly since starting at university, and I knew that this opportunity would provide me with invaluable experience in that field.

This placement provides a fantastic way to work with vulnerable people and gain insight into life in detention in various settings. One of my primary responsibilities at HMI Prisons is travelling to different establishments around England and Wales and handing out detainee surveys, as well as talking to detainees directly. We gather their answers to gain a deeper understanding of the establishment and the experiences or challenges they face. Being able to speak with detainees has allowed me to develop my confidence and interact in a sensitive and caring manner. The research aspect of this role has been helpful for my degree because it allows me to experiment with various statistical techniques and software, some that I have come across before and some that are new. I love being able to draw connections between the work done with some of my modules, knowing that it will play a key part in my dissertation.