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Dr David Scott

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer, Criminology
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Hist, Rel St, Soc, SP&C
  • Social Policy & Criminology
  • david.scott

Professional biography

David Scott has worked at The Open University since September 2016.

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 of the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice  and is the co-founding editor of the European Group Journal Justice, Power and Resistance.  He is a co-founder and Co-Director of the independent publisher EG Press,


Research interests

David's main research interests include the ethical and political foundations of penal abolitionism; the relationship between abolitionism, human rights and social justice; critical social theory and the concept of 'crime'; and critical approaches to poverty, prisons and punishment.


Recent book titles include Against Imprisonment (Waterside Press, 2018)  Controversial Issues in Prisons (Open University Press, 2010);  Prisons and Punishment: The Essentials (Sage, 2014); Emancipatory Politics and Praxis (EG Press, 2016) and Why Prison? (Cambridge University Press, 2013).  David is currently completing a single authored monograph entitled The Estranged Other: Prisons, Abolition and Human Rights  (forthcoming 2019).

A full list of his publcations can be found here:

Selection of articles and chapters (2006-2019)

Scott, D. (2019) "Taking pneal abolitionism seriously: 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 co-chair of DD105 Introduction to Criminology and 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 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 participated in the groundbreaking documentary "Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment" (directed by Dale Hallat and first screened 2012).


Saying NO To the Mega Prison (2018)
Scott, David
Justice, Power and Resistance, 2(1) ((In Press))
Hearing the voice of the estranged Other: Abolitionist ethical hermeneutics (2016)
Scott, David
Kriminolosches Journal, 3
The Politics of Prisoner Legal Rights (2013)
Scott, David
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 52(3) (pp. 233-250)
The caretakers of punishment: prison officers and the rule of law (2006)
Scott, D.
Prison Service Journal, 168 (pp. 14-19)
Against Imprisonment: An Anthology of Abolitionist Essays (2018-02-28)
Scott, David
ISBN : 9781909976542 | Publisher : Waterside Press
Emancipatory Politics and Praxis: An anthology of essays written for the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, 2013–16 (2016)
Scott, David; Bell, Emma; Gilmore, Joanna; Gosling, Helena; Moore, J. M. and Spear, Faith
ISBN : 978-1-911439-01-1 | Publisher : EG Press | Published : London
The Politics and Ethics of Criminological Research (2018)
Scott, David
In: Davis, Pamela and Francis, Peter eds. Doing Criminological Research (3rd Edition) (pp. 137-160)
ISBN : 9781473902725 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Penal agnosis and historical denial: Problematising ‘common sense’ understandings of prison officers and violence in prison (2018)
Scott, D.
In: Barton, A. and David, H. eds. Agnotology and the Criminological Imagination ((In Press))
Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
Contesting the spirit of death (2018)
Scott, D.
In: Stanley, E. ed. Imprisonment and Human Rights ((In Press))
Publisher : Palgrave | Published : London
Regarding rights for the Other: abolitionism and human rights from below (2016-08-12)
Scott, David
In: Weber, Leanne; Fishwick, Elaine and Marmo, Marinella eds. The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights (pp. 50-62)
ISBN : 9781138931176 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Critical Research Values and C. Wright Mills' Sociological Imagination: Learning Lessons from Researching Prison Officers (2015-11-06)
Scott, David
In: Frauley, Jon ed. C. Wright Mills and the Criminological Imagination: Prospects for Creative Inquiry. Classical and Contemporary Social Theory (pp. 185-200)
ISBN : 9781472414748 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : Aldershot
Walking amongst the Graves of the Living: Reflections about Doing Prison Research from an Abolitionist Perspective (2015)
Scott, David
In: Drake, Deborah H.; Earle, Rod and Sloan, Jennifer eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography. Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology (pp. 40-58)
ISBN : 978-1-349-68058-0 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : London
Playing The Get Out Of Jail For Free Card: Creating A New 'Abolitionist Consensus'? (2014-10-13)
Scott, David
In: Canning, Victoria ed. Sites of Confinement (p 65)
ISBN : 978-0-9511708-6-1 | Publisher : EG Press | Published : London
Visualising an abolitionist real utopia: principles, policy and praxis (2013)
Scott, D.
In: Malloch, M. and Munro, B. eds. Crime, Critique and Utopia: Themes for a Critical Criminology
Publisher : Palgrave | Published : London
Punishment (2009-06-25)
Scott, David
In: Hucklesby, Anthea and Wahidin, Azrini eds. Criminal Justice (pp. 83-102)
ISBN : 978-0199215546 | Publisher : Oxford University Press
New Labour, New Legitimacy? The ‘making punishment work’ agenda and the limits of penal reform (2007-11-26)
Scott, David
In: Roberts, Rebecca and McMahon, Will eds. Social justice and criminal justice (pp. 71-81)
ISBN : 978-0-9548903-3-9 | Publisher : Harm & Society Foundation | Published : London
Creating ghosts in the penal machine: the prison officer moral universe and the techniques of denial (2007-11-01)
Scott, David
In: Bennett, Jamie; Crewe, Ben and Wahidin, Azrini eds. Understanding Prison Staff (pp. 168-186)
ISBN : 9781843922759 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Devon
The changing face of the English prisons: a critical review of the aims of imprisonment (2007-06-01)
Scott, David
In: Jewkes, Yvonne ed. Handbook on Prisons (pp. 49-72)
ISBN : 9781843921868 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Devon