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Project Members:

Professor Alison Liebling Alison Liebling 100x100 Borah Kant

What really matters in prison: Measuring Quality of Life in German and Swiss prisons


In 2017, a collaborative group of researchers from Germany, Switzerland and the UK began working on an adaptation of MQPL+. Building on the existing research instrument developed by Alison Liebling and colleagues at the Prisons Research Centre, this adaptation explores the quality of life in prisons across the German-speaking world.


Beginning in June 2022, this three-year project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will apply the adaptation of the research instrument and methodology to two German prisons in Berlin and Nordrhein-Westfalen, and one prison in Switzerland.


The core aims of the research are:

  • To establish a research baseline for prison cultures and climates in Germany and Switzerland.
  • To explore the transferability of concepts and methods developed in the context of prisons in England and Wales across social and political jurisdictions.
  • To discover to what extent legally enshrined frameworks (e.g. the right to resocialisation) shape and interact with the moral quality of prison life.


The team includes:



Neubacher, F., Liebling, A. & Kant, D. (2021) ‘Same problems, different concepts and language: What happens when prison climate research goes on a journey?’, European Journal of Criminology.


Prisons Research at Cambridge University


The Prisons Research Centre (PRC) was founded in 2000, under the Directorship of Professor Alison Liebling. The Centre has received funding from a wide range of sources, including the Prison Service/NOMS, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the ESRC, KPMG, the Home Office and UKDS (now Kalyx).

The Cambridge Institute of Criminology Prisons Research Centre aims to provide a stimulating research environment in which a coherent strategy of high quality research can be pursued, and integration between funded and non-funded, and applied and theoretical projects can be facilitated. We investigate how prisons operate, socially, morally and operationally, how they are experienced, and the relationship between these moral and social qualities, and their effects.

Members of the PRC team carry out, individually and collectively, methodologically rigorous and theoretically relevant field-based studies addressing problems of human and social values, punishment practices, and the organisation and effects of aspects of prison life. We strive to forge links with other prisons researchers, scholars in the broader fields of criminology and sociology, and with practitioners. Our vision is to develop a rigorous and person-centred model of social inquiry.

You can read more about the latest projects in our Annual Reports.