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Prison research

Last updated on 19 Mar 2018

For this purpose, a prisoner or young offender is defined as any inmate of the prison systems of England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. It does not include patients detained under the Mental Health Act at special hospitals or other psychiatric secure units, or juvenile offenders detained in local authority secure accommodation or secure training centres.

Certain Research Ethics Committees (RECs) are flagged for research involving prisons and/or prisoners

Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS)

 If the project is with Prisons or Probation Trusts an application to Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) will be required. 

The HMPPS application process covers all research projects requiring access to data, staff or offenders. It includes research involving Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and their subcontractors, Contracted Prisons and Young Offenders’ Institutions (YOIs), but excludes research in Secure Training Centres, Secure Children’s Homes or with Youth Offending Teams – applications to conduct research in these excluded areas should be directed to the relevant establishments/teams and approval sought directly from these services (the Youth Justice Board does not provide approval for external research but requires that proposed research in Secure Training Centres, Secure Children’s Homes or with Youth Offending Teams has been through a university or other ethics board for review and that any additional local or national approvals have been obtained).

Please refer to the HMPPS website for more information about the application process.

Offender Health Research Network (OHRN) 

The Offender Health Research Network (OHRN) publishes guidance on the various approvals and permissions required to conduct research involving prisoners in England and Wales, and may be able to assist with specific queries.

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