Dr Gabrielle Watson

Shaw Foundation Fellow in Law


Dr Gabrielle Watson is the Shaw Foundation Fellow in Law at Lincoln College, Oxford. She has held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the Faculty of Law and at Christ Church, Oxford, and Visiting Fellowships at both the Centre for Criminal Justice and the Centre for Penal Theory and Penal Ethics at the University of Cambridge. She conducts research at the intersection of criminal law, criminal justice, and the philosophy of law.

Dr Watson is the author of Respect and Criminal Justice (2020), published by Oxford University Press. It offers the first sustained examination of ‘respect’ in criminal justice in England and Wales, where the value is elusive but of persisting significance. Despite public commitments to the value in both policing and imprisonment, the book shows how respect is more akin to a slogan than a foundational value of criminal justice practice.

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, she is currently writing a second book entitled Just Words? Ethics and the Language of Criminal Justice. It charts the shift towards an ethical vocabulary in criminal justice in recent decades, and examines how terms such as ‘fairness’, ‘humanity’, ‘hope’, ‘decency’, ‘dignity,’ and ‘justice’ shape the process of calling individuals to account for their alleged wrongdoing.


  • Criminal law
  • Criminal justice
  • Policing
  • Courts
  • Prisons
  • Ethics of criminal law and justice
  • Language and rhetoric of criminal law and justice
  • Criminal justice reform for the 2020s

Media experience

Dr Watson was an academic consultant on Scotland’s first thematic inspection of its ageing prison population (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, 2017). The results of that inspection received coverage on BBC News, and in The Times, The Sunday Times, The Scotsman, The Herald, and Holyrood Magazine.