Dr Nasrul Ismail

LLB (Hons), MSc (Distinction), PhD

  • BS8 1TZ

Personal profile

Research interests

The governance and delivery of prison health are my primary research interests. My research has informed the work of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the World Health Organization, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the House of Commons Justice Committee, the National Audit Office, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the Prison Reform International. As both a principal investigator and a co-investigator on various projects, I have generated over £200,000 in external funding.

My recent monograph, The English Prison Health System After a Decade of Austerity (2023), was shortlisted for the Social Policy Association’s Richard Titmuss Award, the British Academy’s Peter Townsend Award, and the British Society of Criminology’s Book Award for advancing the fields of Social Policy and Criminology.

With various national and international researchers and organisations, I am presently:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the UK government’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts in English prisons;

  • Mapping COVID-19 vaccine prioritisation within prisons across the globe (with collaborators at the University of Southampton; the University of Pisa; the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences; and the UK Health Security Agency); and

  • Determining how emergency powers implemented and sustained in prisons, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have signalled penal transitions towards authoritarianism.

I am a joint team leader for the Social Harm Policy Group of the Social Policy Association. With 12 members from six institutions—Bristol, Durham, York, Birmingham, Oxford, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation—the Group advances knowledge of social harm in relation to contemporary societal issues and fosters crosscutting research activities that impact academia and beyond.

I am currently an Academic Editor for PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open-access health journal. In addition, in 2024, I will become a Co-Editor for the Justice, Power, and Resistance journal. And finally, I have recently accepted a Visiting Professor position at Monash University Malaysia to collaborate on a prison health research project in Southeast Asia with collaborators from Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines.

I welcome the opportunity to co-supervise doctoral students on topics aligned with my research interests. Prior to working in academia, I was a Public Health Commissioner for various public-sector organisations in South West England. Such life experiences demonstrated to me that prison health is part of public health, especially given that nine out of ten prisoners will eventually return to the community.

For media and other enquiries, I can be reached at: Nasrul.Ismail@bristol.ac.uk.

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Centre for Health, Law and Society


  • Prison health
  • Political economy
  • Austerity
  • Prisons


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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