Ella Simpson

Dr Ella Simpson BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Ella joined the University of Greenwich in 2022 as a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and is delighted to be teaching modules on Penology, Professional Practice and Forensic Criminology, all of which relate to their expertise as a researcher and/or criminal justice practitioner. Ella’s other teaching specialisms include narrative, cultural and convict criminology, along with expertise in the theory and practice of creative arts interventions in criminal justice settings. Before joining Greenwich, Ella taught at the University of Winchester and previously at Bath Spa University, from where they also gained their PhD. Before returning to academia in 2013, Ella worked as a creative arts facilitator in prisons for over a decade and has collaborated on a number of successful creative projects and writing anthologies with people in prison.

Responsibilities within the university

  • Senior Lecturer in Criminology
  • Module Leader, Professional Practice in Criminal Justice (Level 4)
  • Module Co-Leader, Forensic Criminology (Level 4)
  • Module Leader, Penology (Level 5)
  • Undergraduate Dissertation Supervisor


2019 - Kathryn Davies Fellow for Peace, Middlebury College, VT, USA

2017 - British Academy/University of Sheffield ECR funded mentorship

2017 - Bath Spa University (Rising Star) Teaching Fellowship

2016 - Bath Spa University, 3MT Competition, 2nd Prize for ‘From Fiction to Fact: bad stories making good’

2013 - Bath Spa University, Competitive Fee-waiver studentship awarded to cover all fees for PhD

1997 - Middlesex University, Mike Brown Award for Outstanding Contribution to Creative Writing


  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the British Society of Criminology
  • Member of the European Society of Criminology
  • Member of the American Society of Criminology
  • Member of the International Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Research Network (CRIMVOL)
  • Member of the National Criminal Arts Alliance Research Committee

Research / Scholarly interests

Ella’s PhD research focused on the role of creative writing practitioners in arts interventions with prisoners. They are particularly interested in how the life stories of practitioners may influence processes of change for both prisoners and practitioners, both in the arts and in the wider criminal justice sector. They are currently developing this research in order to construct a narrative evaluation framework better able to capture the nuances of such processes of change, informed by desistance theories.

Key funded projects

2021, Principal Investigator - Making Connections. A pilot study of Palestinian prisoner art in collaboration with Al Quds  University, Jerusalem. Funded by Bath Spa University HEQR Seed Funding Award of £3k

2021, Principal Investigator - Evaluation of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s Professional Mentoring Scheme

2016 – 2017, Research Assistant - Evaluation of Making for Change project in HMP Downview, London College of Fashion/MoJ

2014 – 2016, Research Assistant - Evaluation of the Birmingham Youth Offending Service Music Programme, Bath Spa University

Media activity

2021, Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries - Blog Post, Simpson, E.  Setting Knowledge Free

2020, National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance - Blog Post, Simpson, E. Creative Writing at HMP Guys Marsh

2018 – 2020, MasterClass - Creative Writing Series and Anthology Creative writing programme delivered in partnerships with HMP Guys Marsh/Weston College.

2018 – present, ‘The Literary Chain Gang’ - Creative Writing Series and Anthology Annual creative writing programme delivered in partnership with Colorado State University and HMP Erlestoke/Weston College

2019, Howard Journal Video Abstract From the Outside In: Narratives of creative writing practitioners working in the criminal justice system

2018, Institute for Community Research and Development - Blog Post Simpson, E. (2018) From the Outside In: Narratives of Creative Arts Practitioners Working in the Criminal Justice System

Recent publications


Caulfield, L.S., Jolly, A., Simpson, E. and Devi-McGleish, Y (2020) '‘It’s not just music, it helps you from inside’: mixing methods to understand the impact of music on young people in contact with the criminal justice system.' Youth Justice. ISSN 1473-2254

Simpson, E. Morgan, C. and Caulfield, L.S. (2019) 'From the outside in: narratives of creative arts practitioners working in the criminal justice system.' The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. ISSN 0265-5527

Book Chapters

Simpson, E. (2021) 'Starting at the end: a storyboard.' In: Fruish, A. (ed.) Tool box: red - ideas, inspirations, games. Arts Council England, pp. 101-103.

Caulfield, L.S. and Simpson, E. (2019) 'Arts based interventions in the justice system.' In: Ugwudike, P, ed. Routledge companion to rehabilitative work in criminal justice. Routledge, Abingdon.

Commissioned Reports

Simpson, E. (2021) An evaluation of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance’s Professional Mentoring Scheme 2020/21. NCJAA.

Caulfield, L.S., Curtis, K. and Simpson, E. (2018) Making for change - an independent evaluation of Making for Change: skills in a Fashion Training & Manufacturing Workshop. London College of Fashion, UAL.

McAleese, S., Simpson, E. and Hughes, N. (2017) The Voluntary Sector in Criminal Justice: Setting the Research Agenda: conference report. Centre for Criminological Research, University of Sheffield.

Caulfield, L.S., Simpson, E. and Jacobs, C. (2016) An evaluation of the Birmingham Youth Offending Service Youth Music Project (Compliance, completion, and success). Youth Music.


Stories from the Inside: The narratives of creative writing practitioners in prisons, 21-24th September 2022, University of Malaga.

Simpson, E. (2022) ‘The Interior Landscape on the Outside: The relationship between psychology and trauma in the stories of creative writing practitioners in prisons’, 6th-7th July, University of Cambridge.

Simpson, E. (2022) ‘Stories from the Inside: The narratives of creative writing practitioners in prisons’, 3rd Narrative Criminology Symposium, 16th-18th June, University of Genoa, Italy.

Simpson, E. (2017-2020) Criminal Research: Creating Communities of Practice REF2021 collection.

Simpson, E. (2019) ‘The Alienation of Empathy: Outsiders and Insiders in the Criminal Justice System’,

Empathy in Research: Writing and Empathy Research Group, 15 June 2019, Bath Spa University, Bath, UK.

Simpson, E. (2019) All Party Parliamentary Group on Poetry - Invited contributor. Contributed knowledge on the role of poetry in prison environments.

Soyinka, B and Simpson, E (2018) ‘Story as refuge’, Storytelling and Refuge / Storytelling as Refuge: George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling Annual Symposium, 6 - 7 April 2018, University of South Wales, Cardiff, Wales.

Simpson, E. (2018) ‘Being the change you want to see: the importance of frontline

practitioners' stories in understanding the penal voluntary sector’, The Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector: Emerging Scholarship: CRIMVOL International Research Network, 9 January 2018, British Academy, London, UK.

Simpson, E. (2017) ‘Authoring desistance: the role of practitioners in creative

interventions’, The Second Narrative Criminology Symposium: The Narrative Criminology Research Network, 14 - 15 June 2017, University of Oslo, Norway.

Caulfield, L.S., Simpson, E. & Jacobs, C. (June 2017) ‘Improving resilience and

well-being through the arts: exploring methodologies using an example of research in youth justice’, Culture, Health and wellbeing international conference Culture, Health and wellbeing international conference: University of Bristol, UK.

Simpson, E. and Morgan, C. (2015).  ‘Creative Collaborations: A Case Study’, ERSC Knowledge Exchange event: Bath Spa University, UK.

Simpson, E. (2015) ‘The Story of Crime: Offending scientific tradition and the role of crime fiction’, Captivating Criminality (II) Crime Fictions, Traditions and Transgressions: Bath Spa University, UK.