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Prisons expert receives Young Criminologist Award from the European Society of Criminology

Thursday, 06 October 2022

Dr Philippa Tomczak has received the 2022 Young Criminologist Award from the European Society of Criminology, in recognition of her research into prison safety.

Dr Tomczak, Principal Research Fellow in Criminology and prisonHEALTH Director at the University of Nottingham, won the award for an article published in the scientific journal Theoretical Criminology, titled “Reconceptualizing multisectoral prison regulation: Voluntary organizations and bereaved families as regulators”.

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I am delighted to be recognised by my international colleagues for my research into this important, neglected area of criminology.
Dr Philippa Tomczak, School of Sociology and Social Policy
Dr Tomczak was presented with the award at the European Society of Criminology’s annual conference in Malaga, Spain.

She continued: “Following multiple self-inflicted deaths at three prisons in England and Wales, this article demonstrates that extensive state regulation efforts did not avert further deaths. However, the efforts of bereaved families and voluntary organisations threatening and bringing litigation interrupted deaths, led to significant policy reforms and correlated with reductions in the prison population.”

Dr Tomczak will continue this work in collaboration with the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman in England and Wales and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and on her newly commenced European Research Council Starting Grant.

She was presented with the award at the European Society of Criminology’s annual conference, where the awarding committee said: “Tomczak’s article takes as its empirical focus the theme of prison suicide and explores the ways in which voluntary organisations and bereaved families can act as ‘regulators’, driving change in prison regulation and culture, even although such groups are often silenced within, absent from, official narratives."The committee also agreed that Tomczak’s work "had important practical implications demonstrating the significance and rigour of her empirical work”.

The university is enormously proud of all of Dr Tomczak’s achievements in her career so far and we are thrilled she is receiving international recognition for her important research, which is richly deserved.
Professor Todd Landman, Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Social Sciences

The award follows a host of accolades held by Dr Tomczak, whose promise was recognised with a £1.2 million grant through the prestigious UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship programme in 2020.

She also holds a £1.3m European Research Council Starting Grant to develop the first-ever model of criminal justice detention regulation, which could help to tackle the current prison crisis in England and Wales.

Dr Tomczak was a Nottingham Research Fellow from 2018- 2021. Between 2015 and 2018, Dr Tomczak was a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow and British Academy Rising Star at the University of Sheffield Centre for Criminological Research. She published the first monograph on 'The Penal Voluntary Sector', which won the 2017 British Society of Criminology Book Prize and founded CRIMVOL: the international criminal justice voluntary sector research network.

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More information is available from Dr Philippa Tomczak in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham at

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

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