Ethical principles inform all our research activities. These activities include surveys, interviews, focus groups, secondary analysis of data, other desk-based research and the use of data to inform our practice.

All HMI Prisons staff conducting research activities must adhere to our ethical principles.

Informed consent

We obtain full informed consent from individuals who take part in research activities. We provide participants with information about:

  • the nature and purpose of the research activity
  • how they have been selected
  • what is involved and how much time it will take
  • confidentiality and anonymity
  • how the information they provide will be used and stored.

Confidentiality and anonymity

Information obtained from research activities remains confidential and is protected from loss or theft and unauthorised access, use, disclosure or modification by others. Individuals remain anonymous and the information they provide is not used in a way that leads to their identification. However, we have a duty to pass on safeguarding and child protection concerns.

Voluntary participation

Participation in our research activities is voluntary. Individuals have the right to withdraw at any time until a report has been published and can choose not to answer questions, without repercussions.

Enabling participation

We make every effort to respect and accommodate the needs of individuals in terms of language, accessibility, availability and any other equality and diversity considerations, to ensure that they are included in our research activities.

Well-being of participants

We anticipate and protect the well-being (physical, social and psychological), rights, privacy and dignity of individuals in all research activities we conduct. We make every effort to ensure that individuals are not harmed or adversely affected during, or as a result of, participation in a research activity. We do everything possible to prevent reprisals for individuals who take part in a research activity.

Professional conduct

All HMI Prisons staff are expected to work in accordance with our values and maintain a high standard of professional conduct at all times.

Researcher safety, well-being and security

The well-being of staff is paramount and support is available for staff when needed. All staff obtain security clearance and complete training on safety, security and personal protection. Staff adhere to the specific security and safety requirements of inspected settings and adhere to HMI Prisons’ health and safety policies.

Data protection/retention

We comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A clear and consistent practice for data protection, information security, protective markings, loss of personal or sensitive information, data retention, data storage and the use of data is in place.

Ethical governance

We develop research activities that are designed to generate data that will inform the development of policy and practice. An ethics checklist is completed and signed off by the ethics lead in the Research, Data and Thematic (RDT) team in advance of any projects involving research activities and for new research activities developed.