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Working Title of PhD: The prison inspection in Scotland: Prisoner perceptions of legitimacy

Year commenced PhD study: 2022

Institution/Organisation: Napier/Dundee

Funding Source (if any): ESRC

Full or part-time: Full

PhD Supervisors: Dr Katrina Morrison (Napier); Dr Fernando Fernandes, Professor Trish McCulloch (Dundee)


Within Scotland, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS) lead on designing the delivering the Standards of Inspection and Monitoring within the Scottish prison system. While inspection processes engage with people held in custody to gain their views of their prison experience, neither the Inspectorate, nor anyone else to our knowledge, has ever investigated whether those in custody have confidence in the inspectorate, and view it as fair and a valuable safeguard of their human rights and wellbeing. This is of crucial importance, not only for moral reasons because HMIPS inspect people in custody’s living spaces, but also because if inspectorate processes are not viewed as legitimate, people are less likely to engage with it.

This project will be unique both empirically and theoretically in using the lens of ‘legitimacy’ to analyse the perceptions of people in custody of the inspection process. This project will be high impact through the collaboration with HMIPS, with potential to share findings more widely across the UK through the UK National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) which monitors the UK’s response to its international obligations under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment (OPCAT).

As such this project has the potential to inform inspection practice across this network, as well as contributing to the evidence base around human rights within places of detention both nationally and internationally.



Edinburgh Napier University & Dundee University

Research Themes

Criminal Justice Process and Institutions

No Publications Available

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