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 a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Law at Christ Church, Oxford and Visiting Fellowships in Law at the Centre for Criminal Justice and Downing College, 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 (Oxford University Press, 2020), which won the Policing Book Prize of the European Society of Criminology 2021. The book offers the first academic study of ‘respect’ in criminal justice in England and Wales, where the value is elusive but of central and enduring significance. Owing to some sustained - but ultimately unsuccessful - reform efforts in recent decades, criminal justice institutions regularly appeal to the word ‘respect’, proclaiming it as a core value in official discourse. Yet, on closer examination, their approach to the value is not clear-cut, and in policing and prisons alike, respect is a mere slogan. With a sense of modest realism, the book critiques this reality - and then envisages the advances that could be made - in inscribing respectful relations between state and subject.

Dr Watson's current research has two strands. The first is a project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, entitled Just Words? Ethics and the Language of Criminal Justice. The second is a project on the ethics of the guilty plea for Hart Bloomsbury. She is also consultant to the Sentencing Academy, a London-based institute dedicated to developing expert and public understanding of sentencing in England and Wales.


  • Criminal law
  • Criminal justice
  • Courts and sentencing
  • 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.