Student essay competition

We are inviting students across Scotland to take part in an essay competition on the subject of women in the justice system.

We hope it will attract students of all ages, levels of studies and subject areas all across Scotland. From the Highlands to the Lowlands and everywhere in between!

Good luck everyone!


In 2009 Brigadier Hugh Monro, then HM’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, in his report into conditions at Scotland’s only all women prison, HMP Cornton Vale, concluded:

‘High numbers of prisoners at Cornton Vale have become endemic and have a negative effect on staff and prisoners alike. Cornton Vale is in a state of crisis and an ever increasing prisoner population is one of the main causes; indeed many of the criticisms I have are directly related to this situation.’[i]

The Scottish Government set up the Commission on Women Offenders, chaired by Dame Elish Angiolini, to look at the treatment of women in the criminal justice system and in 2012 it reported:

‘The female prison population in Scotland has doubled in the past 10 years. Many women in the criminal justice system are frequent reoffenders with complex needs that relate to their social circumstances, previous histories of abuse and mental health and addiction problems. It has been widely recognised that there is an urgent need for action to reduce the number of women reoffending and going to prison.’ [ii]


 ‘Are there more effective ways than prison to reduce reoffending among women in Scotland?’ Discuss

 Essays may address any aspect relevant to this theme provided they can demonstrate such relevance and reference appropriate sources. They need not address the theme in its entirety though they are free to do so, and ambition and originality will be viewed favourably.   We anticipate this competition may be of interest to any students studying criminology, law, ethics, philosophy, psychology, sociology and social care.

However, there are no restrictions on entry. If applicable, entries should include student’s name and contact details and current course and place of study.

The closing date for submissions is November 30th and the winner will be decided by a panel of judges drawn from professionals and academic within criminal justice.

The winner will be notified and announced online at in December.

Word limit 2,500

1st prize £150 high street vouchers & spend a day with a leading professional in the criminal justice field

2nd prize £75 high street vouchers

We cannot return competition entries and essays we reserve the right to publish essays online or in print unless otherwise stated in your entry.

Send entries to

[i] Hugh Monro, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, (2009) HM Inspectorate of Prisons Report on HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, p.6 1.1

[ii] Commission on Women Offenders: Final Report 2012, p. 3