Sociology Research Group


Westminster Sociology and Criminology students complete module in HMP Pentonville exchanging knowledge with inmate learners

Criminology 14 December 2017

Pentonville graduation

Students from the Sociology and Criminology BA Honours and the Criminology BA Honours courses at the University of Westminster, who have had an outstanding opportunity to learn with inmate students at HMP Pentonville, have celebrated the end of the 10-week module on 13 December.

The British Convict Criminology ‘Making Links’ programme, led by Criminology lecturers Dr Andreas Aresti and Dr Sacha Darke, has been running since 2016. The project, in collaboration with Jose Aguiar, Education Consultant at HMP Pentonville, enabled 15 Westminster students, called ‘outside learners’, to go and study once a week in the prison library with 15 inmate students from HMP Pentonville, the ‘inside learners’.

This programme was made possible thanks to Dr Martin Doherty, Head of the Department of History, Sociology and Criminology, as well as thanks to the great support from the Westminster Outreach team, particularly Rosie Reynolds.

On 13 December, the end of the 10-week module was celebrated during a graduation ceremony enabling inside and outside learners to receive rewards for the hard work they performed during the programme. A family member or friend for both inside and outside learners could also attend the ceremony taking place in the Chapel of the prison.

This programme provided Westminster students from the Sociology and Criminology BA Honours and the Criminology BA Honours courses with an insight and a tangible experience for their future careers while bringing education to prisoners.

It mainly focused on developing links between university students studying inside and outside prison, provided a learning environment in which prisoners and undergraduate students study on equal terms, and developed insider standpoint and knowledge in the discipline of Criminology. 

Pentonville programme

Dr Andreas Aresti, who is co-leading the programme, said: “There is a desperate shortage of educated prisoners and former prisoners’ voices within the discipline of Criminology. This project gives a chance to HMP Pentonville inmates to learn about various topics in the field of Criminology at a higher education level which could enable them to enter further education after they are released. It also provides Westminster students with a unique insight and valuable practical experience in a prison setting for their future careers.”

A Westminster Criminology student, who took part in the 10-week project, said: “This programme really made me understand how the criminal justice process worked. It helped me tackle my stereotypes about prison, boosted my self-confidence and increased my future employability chances. It was very enriching to learn from inside learners ’experience and testimonials and to debate with them over these 10 weeks.”

Dr Andreas Aresti and Westminster Outreach Officer Rosie Reynolds also took part in a panel discussion entitled ‘Is a Criminal Record a Life Sentence?’ on 6 December where they discussed the stigma ex-offenders face in the community.

Find out more about the Sociology and Criminology BA Honours course at the University of Westminster.

Find out more about the Criminology BA Honours course at the University of Westminster.

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