The International Centre for Prison Studies was established in 1997. Since its foundation, the aims of the Centre have been to conduct research into prisons and imprisonment; to develop and disseminate a body of knowledge about the principles on which the use of imprisonment should be based; and to inform improvements in prison policies and practice, within a human rights framework. The Centre has made the results of its academic research and projects widely available to groups and individuals, both nationally and internationally. These include policy-makers, prison practitioners and administrators, the media, academics, and the general public. The work of the Centre includes the development of the World Prison Brief database on prison populations around the world; and the production and dissemination of the prisons handbook, A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management.
In November 2014, the Centre merged with the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, based in the School of Law at Birkbeck, University of London. ICPR and Birkbeck provide a setting in which the research, dissemination and consultancy activities of the Centre will be pursued and further developed.
At ICPR, Helen Fair and Roy Walmsley continue to produce the World Prison Brief and associated publications, under the direction of Dr Jessica Jacobson, Co-Director of ICPR. Frank Warburton oversees ongoing international prisons consultancy.