David gained an MA (with distinction) in Crime, Deviance and Social Policy from Lancaster University in 1996 and was awarded a doctorate in 2006 under the supervision of Professor Barbara Hudson from the University of Central Lancashire.

David was the coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control from 2009-2012. He is a former editor / associate editor of the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice  and is the co-founding editor of the European Group Journal Justice, Power and Resistance.  

European Group Coordinator Opening Address


Research interests

David's current research interests include the ethical foundations of penal abolitionism; the historical relationship between penal abolitionism and the politics of social justice; and anti-carceral approaches to prisons, punishment and the social harms of state-corporate power.

Dr David Scott Research in Focus Seminar on Human Rights 11th May 2016


His books include Against Imprisonment (Waterside Press, 2018), Controversial Issues in Prisons (Open University Press, 2010) and Why Prison? (Cambridge University Press, 2013).  David is currently (with Michael Coyle) co-editing the International Handbook of Penal Abolition (forthcoming 2020, Routledge). His latest book is For Abolition (published by Waterside Press in 2020)

A full list of his publcations can be found here: https://dscott.academia.edu/

Selection of articles and chapters (2006-2020)

Scott, D. (2020) "Ordinary rebels, everyone: activist scholarhsip and the penal aboltionist as an insider-outsider" in Hart, E. (ed) (2020) Resisting the Punitive State London: Pluto

Scott, D. (2019) "Penal abolitionism as a philosophy of hope: an alternative futures for public engagement" in Henne, K. and Shah, R. (eds) (2019) ​The Routledge Handbook of Public Criminologies ​London: Routledge

Scott, D. (2018) "Saying NO to the mega prison" in Justice, Power and Resistance Volume 2, No. 1

Scott, D. (2018) “The ethics and poitics of criminological research” in Davis, P. and Francis, P. (eds) Doing Criminological Research London: Sage

Scott, D. (2017) "What is to be done? Thinking about abolitonist alternatives" in Prison Service Journal ​No 231, May 2017

Scott, D. (2016) “Hearing the voice of the estranged Other: abolitionist ethical hermeneutics” in Kriminolosches Journal (September 2016)

Scott, D. (2016) “Regarding rights for the Other: abolitionism and human rights from below” in Weber, L. (ed) The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights London: Routledge

Scott, D. (2015) “Walking among the graves of the living: reflections of an abolitionist on doing prison research” in Drake, D., Earle, R. and Sloan, J. (eds) Handbook of Prison Ethnography London: Palgrave

Scott, D. (2015) “Critical research values and the sociological imagination:lessons from researching prison officers” in Frauley, J. (ed) (2015) C. Wright Mills and the Criminological Imagination Aldershot: Ashgate

Scott, D. (2014) “Playing the get out of jail card for free: creating an abolitionist based consensus?” in Canning, V. (ed) (2014) Sites of Confinement London: EG Press

Scott, D. (2013) “The politics of prisoner legal rights” in Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 51, No 3 [July 2013]

Scott, D. (2013) “Visualising an abolitionist real utopia: principles, policy and praxis” in Malloch, M. & Munro, B. (eds) (2013) Crime, Critique and Utopia: Themes for a Critical Criminology London: Palgrave

Scott, D. (2012) “Guarding the ghosts of time: working personalities and the prison officer-prisoner relationship” in Prison Service Journal, Number 201 May 2012 pp 18-23

Scott, D. (2012) "Sympathy for the devil: human rights and empathetic construction of suffering" in Criminal Justice Matters, May 2012

Scott, D. (2011) “’That’s not my name’: prisoner deference and disciplinarian prison officers” in Criminal Justice Matters, June 2011

Scott, D. (2010) “Why didn’t prisoner rights come home?” in Criminal Justice Matters, December 2010

Scott, D. (2009) “Punishment” pp 83-102 in Hucklesby, A. & Wahidin, A. (eds) (2009) Criminal Justice Oxford: Oxford University Press

Scott, D. (2008) “Creating ghosts in the penal machine: the prison officer moral universe and the techniques of denial” in Bennett, J., Crewe, B., and Wahidin, A.(eds) (2008) Understanding Prison Staff Devon: Willan

Scott, D. (2007) “The changing face of the English prisons: a critical review of the aims of imprisonment” in Jewkes, Y. (ed) (2007) Handbook of Prisons London: Routledge

Scott, D. (2007) “New labour, New legitimacy: the ‘making punishment work agenda’ and the limits of penal reform” pp 71-81 in Roberts, R. & McMahon. W. (eds) (2007) Social Justice, Criminal Justice London: Harm & Society Foundation

Scott, D. (2006) "The caretakers of punishment: prison officers and the rule of law" in Prison Service Journal November 2006

Teaching interests

David has taught criminology to undergraduate and postgraduate students since 1994 and has worked previously at Edge Hill University, the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, the University of Central Lancashire and Liverpool John Moores University.

David is Chiar of DD105 Introduction to Criminology (Chair in production 2016-2020 and Chair in presentation, 2020 onwards) and formerly Qualification Lead of Q57 Social Policy and Criminology.

Impact and engagement

David has undertaken interviews for BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live and a number of local radio stations such as BBC Radio Northampton, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Essex.  He has also featured on national television, including contributions to  BBC1 The Big Questions, BBC Wales Today and ITV News. 

David is co-founder and former director of the independent publisher EG Press.  He has also made a number of short films and documentaries for The Open University.  His short film (with Hamlett Films) "The Grenfell Tower and Social Murder" was nominated for Best Film at the Learning on Screen Awards (2018) and nominated for the Best Research Film at the AHRC Film Awards (2018). In November 2018 the film was awarded the Life Changing Award at the British Documentary Film Festival.  Another film made with Hamlett, 'Advertising, Brandalism and Subvertising', was nomited for Best Educational Film at the Learning on Screen Awards (2019) and in April 2019 his OpenLearn film ' Why we should abolish imprisonment for childtren and young people' launched a week of action calling for the abolition of child prisons.

David has submitted evidence to a number of Parliamentary Committees and Official Inquiries. His research has been cited in the House of Parliament (see Hansard, 25th Janaury 2017) and also in HoC Briefing Papers on Prisons and Punishment (November 2016). David presented the case for the abolition of child life sentences in the House of Commons in November 2017.

Recent blogs for the Harm & Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC) include:




His research has been highlighted by OU News on a number of occassions



David has contributed short papers to independent media forums such as Open Democracy and The Conversation.



He has also published articles in the national newspapers The Independent and The Guardian



David contributed to the 2017 documentary 'Injustice' and also participated in the groundbreaking documentary "Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment" (directed by Dale Hallat and first screened 2012).

Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment

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