Web Links and Blogs

1.2: Sources of penal knowledge

The Academy

The main peer reviewed academic journals which cover prisons and punishment are:

Two academic penologists who publish up to date blogs on penological issues are:


Official Reports and Statistics

The public archive of the United Kingdom Government, including the UK Government web archive, holds historical records including official reports on law, imprisonment and justice. It is available at:


Up to date official statistics and reports on prisons and punishment are available from

It is also worth looking at the website of the Parliamentary committees, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the House of Commons Justice Committee, both of which regularly inquire into penal affairs. Details of inquiries and publications by parliamentary committees are available at:



The Liberal Penal Lobby

Penal reform organisations which publish regular reports and statistics on prisons and punishment include:


The Radical Penal Lobby

Other groups which lobby actively for change by campaigning on singular issues include:


The Conservative Penal Lobby

Conservative right wing ‘think tanks’ which have published reports on prisons and punishment include: 


The Staff Unions

Finally, staff unions within the penal system which publish on issues and developments relevant to the interests of their members are:

2.2: Theorising about prisons and punishment

Useful ‘pen’ descriptions of the work and ideas of key penal theorists and writers are:

Also, a description of the influence of the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels on theories of prison and punishment is provided by John Lea at: http://www.bunker8.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/misc/MarxEngelsCrim.html

A research and teaching centre founded on the work and ideas of Zygmunt Bauman can be found at: http://baumaninstitute.leeds.ac.uk/

And information on the work of the Norbert Elias Foundation is available at: http://www.norberteliasfoundation.nl/

2.3: Comparative penologies

A number of organisations report on international developments on prisons and punishment. They include:

In addition, a National Audit Office (NAO) briefing paper: Comparing International Criminal Justice Systems is available at: http://www.nao.org.uk/report/nao-briefing-comparing-international-criminal-justice-systems/

Another paper you might find useful is Allen, R.  (2012) Reducing the Use of Imprisonment: What Can We Learn from Europe. London: Criminal Justice Alliance. Available at: http://www.criminaljusticealliance.org/CJA_ReducingImprisonment_Europe.pdf

And the World Population Brief, published by the International Centre for Prison Studies, is available at: http://www.prisonstudies.org/world-prison-brief

2.4: A history of imprisonment in the UK: until 1997

John Lea’s blog provides a full lecture sequence of the history of crime and punishment. It is available at: http://www.bunker8.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/history/SO827.htm

The Howard League for Penal Reform also provides a brief history of the prison system in England, available at: http://www.howardleague.org/history-of-prison-system/

2.5: Penal policy: until 2013

UK Government websites providing corporate content and information on penal policy and practice include: 

Key Government papers, reports, consultation papers and inquiries which have influenced penal policy over recent years include: 

Finally, the independent report Do Better Do Less: The Report of the Commission on English Prisons Today, set up by the Howard League for Penal Reform, is available at: http://www.prisoncommission.org.uk/

2.6: Penal administration and prisoner populations

Official statistics and reports on prison administration and prisoner populations are available from the Ministry of Justice. They include

The Office for National Statistics also provides information on prison administration and prisoner populations at the UK National Statistics Publication Hub, prisons, available at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/crime-justice/offenders/prison/index.html

The Howard League for Penal Reform publishes a regular statistical update on prison overcrowding, available at http://www.howardleague.org/weekly-prison-watch/

And the Prison Reform Trust publishes regular updates on prisons generally. See Prison: The Facts, Prison Reform Trust Bromley Briefing, summer 2013, available at: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Prisonthefacts.pdf

2.7: Sociologies of prison life

Information on race relations in prisons is available in the following publications:

Information on foreign national prisoners is available in: Foreign National Prisoners, Issues Raised in Annual Reports to the Secretary of State By Independent Monitoring Boards in Prisons in England & Wales, National Council of the Independent Monitoring Boards 2012, available at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/about/imb/foreign-national-prisoners.pdf

Information on women in prison is available in the following recent publications:

Information on remand prisoners is available in Remand prisoners, A thematic review, HM Inspectorate of Prisons 2012, available at: https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmipris/thematic-reports-and-research-publications/remand-thematic.pdf

Information on the mental health of prisoners is available in the following publications:

Information on deaths (including self-inflicted deaths) in prisons is available in the following:

Information on drugs in prison is available in:

Information on health in prisons is available in:


2.8: Penal accountability

Information on the various forms of penal accountability in England and Wales is contained in the following websites, reports and guidelines:

2.9: Probation and community penalties

The National Offender Management Service provides information on the work of probation services in England and Wales at:  https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/national-offender-management-service/about/about-our-services

The Role of the Probation Service, the eighth report of session 2010-12, the House of Commons Justice Committee, is available at:  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmjust/519/519i.pdf

The Office for National Statistics provides information at the UK National Statistics Publication Hub, probation, available at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/crime-justice/offenders/probation/index.html

Finally, there is a good deal of information and commentary on the current Government proposals to transform the work of the probation service. For example: