Respect and Criminal Justice - Gabrielle Watson

10 July 2020

Cover of Respect and Criminal Justice by Gabrielle WatsonGabrielle Watson’s first book, Respect and Criminal Justice, has been published by Oxford University Press (Clarendon Studies in Criminology). It is the first study of ‘respect’ in policing and imprisonment in England and Wales, where the value is elusive but of persisting significance.

Gabrielle is the Shaw Foundation Fellow in Law at Lincoln College, Oxford. Gabrielle completed work on the book while she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Law at Christ Church and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Law.

Respect and Criminal Justice offers the first sustained examination of 'respect' in criminal justice in England and Wales, where the value is elusive but of persisting significance. The book takes the form of a critique of the 'respect deficit' in policing and imprisonment.

It is especially concerned with the ways in which both institutions are merely constrained and not characterised by respect. In the course of the critique, it emerges that they appeal to the word 'respect' but rarely and only superficially address the prior question of what it is to respect and be respected. Despite academic interest in the democratic design of these institutions in recent decades, the book concludes that respect is more akin to a slogan than a foundational value of criminal justice practice.


Portrait of Gabrielle Watson. Photograph by Eleanor SangerGabrielle commented:

‘The book’s publication is especially timely in this political moment, as we reflect on the stark, seemingly intractable problems of police misconduct and deep structural racism. Part of the push for reform must involve the simple act of listening, followed by the search for robust theoretical ideas with which to frame the debate.

In matters of policing and criminal justice, respect need not be utopian. It simply requires a degree of mutual understanding when it is owed to, called for, deserved, elicited, or claimed by another. With a sense of modest realism, the book sets out those challenges in detail—and envisages the advances that could be made—in inscribing respectful relations between state and subject.’


The Clarendon series provides a forum for work in all aspects of criminology and criminal justice, broadly defined. It is among the most prestigious in the field, having published modern classics including Sparks, Bottoms and Hay’s Prisons and the Problem of Order (1996) and Liebling’s Prisons and their Moral Performance (2004). It is the successor to the Cambridge Studies in Criminology series, inaugurated by Sir Leon Radzinowicz—the ‘founding father’ of British criminology—and JWC Turner 80 years ago.