Research at HMPPS

We carry out and commission research to measure the effectiveness of offender management services, in the short or long term.

Important notice: NRC COVID-19 update

In line with plans to ease restrictions across HMPPS, the National Research Committee sets out its plan for approving primary research within HMPPS.

The NRC COVID-19 Medium-Term Plan sets out criteria for approving research applications. This is closely aligned with the stages of recovery for prisons and the probation service as set out in the National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services and the Probation Roadmap to Recovery.

All researchers must read the NRC COVID-19 medium-term plan before submitting new applications for primary research or amendments for ongoing projects.

The processes and criteria outlined in the plan will be kept under review and amended if required.

NRC COVID-19 medium-term plan (PDF, 537KB, 21 pages)

NRC COVID-19 screening form (ODT, 23.1KB)

NRC COVID-19 risk assessment form (ODT, 9.95KB)

All completed forms should be sent to the NRC mailbox:

Applications for secondary data analysis should be submitted following the usual NRC process.


All researchers wanting to conduct research with staff and/or offenders in prison establishments, National Probation Service (NPS)/Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) regions or within Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Headquarters are required to formally apply for research approval to the HMPPS National Research Committee (NRC).

The NRC exists to ensure:

  • the research applicant, Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and HMPPS attain best value from the research conducted
  • the resource implications and impact of the research on operational delivery is considered
  • the robustness and relevance of the research is adequately assessed
  • matters of data protection/security and research ethics are dealt with in a consistent manner

How to submit an application

All applications must be made using the National Research Application form HMPPS research application template (XLSM, 286KB) or, for projects also requiring approval from health and social care bodies, through the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS).

All applications should be sent to

The application form must be accompanied by the researchers’ CVs, any ethical approvals, any questionnaires/interview schedules and consent forms/information sheets that have already been devised.

The NRC runs on a monthly cycle, applications should be submitted by the last working day of the month at 5pm; they will then be processed and reviewed during the following month. Feedback on applications will normally be sent by the end of the month after they were submitted: for example, applications received between 1 and 31 January will be processed and reviewed in February, with feedback sent to the applicant by the 28 February.

Student applications

All student applications below doctoral level need to be supported by an MOJ/HMPPS business lead in order to be considered. This business support needs to come from a senior member of staff, working in MOJ/HMPPS Headquarters who is willing to state that they believe the research is going to be of benefit to MOJ/HMPPS and will have minimal resource demands.

Due to the potential volume of student applications, the NRC is not able to assist with student applications below doctoral level that do not have this business support.

Guidance on applications

Guidance on the NRC process and application form, including information about ethical issues that should be considered, is available here: HMPPS Research applications instruction (MS Word Document, 126KB)

Examples of good applications:

HMPPS research - Qualitative example (MS Word Document, 38.9KB)

HMPPS research - Quantitative example (MS Word Document, 91KB)

Tips for completing your application


  • read the guidance before completing the NRC application form HMPPS Research applications instruction (MS Word Document, 126KB)
  • provide as much relevant information as possible for each section in the application form
  • be aware that the reviewer of your application may not be an expert in the topic, or method, of your research. Therefore, explain any specialist terms, techniques, specific policies or operational procedures where appropriate
  • use plain English when completing the application form and writing consent and data collection tools
  • check your completed application form for typos and grammatical errors
  • consult your peers/supervisors for their views and comments on your proposal prior to submitting the application form
  • attach supporting documents, e.g. participant information sheet, consent form, questionnaire/interview schedule, CVs, when submitting the application


  • use acronyms or jargon in your application and supporting documents
  • assume that NRC members are subject/methods specialists
  • assume that sections do not need to be completed; if a section does not seem relevant explain why, e.g. this is a literature review of publicly available information, data protection does not apply, as no personal information is collected
  • commence the research until receiving written NRC approval

NRC decisions

We will notify you in writing of the NRC decision. We will be selective in what research we approve due to the high volume of applications. We may ask that the research is also submitted to an appropriate local research ethics committee (for example, University, NHS or research body).

Successful applicants

If your application is successful, you will be required to prepare a research summary (approximately three pages, maximum of five pages) at the end of your project which:

  • summarises the research aims and approach
  • highlights the key findings
  • sets out the implications for NOMS decision-makers

Provision of the research summary is essential to ensure that MOJ and HMPPS are notified of your research findings so that value of the research is maximised.

Unsuccessful applicants

If your application is unsuccessful, we will tell you the reasons why. You are allowed one resubmission. The reasons for the previous rejection should be fully addressed.

Amendments to your research

You must seek NRC approval for any amendments to the originally approved application, e.g. changes to the prison establishments included in your research, or changes to the number of interviews you intend to conduct.

Please contact with details of any amendments before you implement them.

Further information

Please refer to the guidance on the NRC process and application form HMPPS Research applications instruction (MS Word Document, 126KB).

Or contact with any queries