Staff profile

Professor Lynn Saunders OBE

Head of School of Law and Social Sciences

Lynn Saunders - Head of School for Law and Social Sciences


College of Business, Law and Social Sciences





I am the Head of Law and Social Sciences and a Professor of Applied Criminology. I have a professional background working in the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales, working in both prisons and in the community. Most recently as Governor of a large medium secure treatment site for people with sexual convictions. I co-founded a charity, (the Safer Living Foundation) in 2014 with the aim to prevent sexual (re) offending. I remain its Chair. I have a PhD in Socio-legal studies.

Professional interests

My professional interests are focused on the management and treatment of people with sexual convictions in custody and their experiences in the community after their release. I also have an interest in prison-based research. I also have a longstanding interest in mental health, and I have previously been a Mental Health Act Commissioner and a Trustee of a national mental health charity. I am a trustee of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, and the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse (NOTA).

Research interests

My main research interests include the resettlement of people convicted of sexual offences following a prison sentence. The prevention of sexual offending. The experiences of older people in prisons and the experiences of family members following the arrest and/or conviction of a person for a sexual offence.

Membership of professional bodies

I am a member of the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse (NOTA) and the Association for the Treatment of Abuse (ATSA).


Recent conferences

Experience in industry

I worked in the Criminal Justice System for 30 years initially as a Probation Officer, and then as a senior leader, most recently as the Governor of HMP Whatton, a site holding people convicted of sexual offences. I have also been involved in a number of policy groups for the Ministry of Justice specifically involving work with estate transformation, security categorisation, and working with prisoners' families. Until October 2021, I was the national prisons lead for prisons holding people with sexual offences. I was also a member of the HMPPS Sexual Offences Management Board. 

International experience

I was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Travel Fellowship in 2013. I visited five prisons in the United States and five in Canada. I also visited a range of community facilities in both countries. I have also visited prisons in Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to advise on the development of services for people with sexual convictions, these include palliative and social care services and the use of volunteers in supporting resettlement.

Additional interests and activities

I am a Trustee of the Lucy Faithful Foundation a child protection charity, and the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse. I have previously been a trustee of Prisoners Abroad - a humanitarian charity supporting British nationals in prisons in foreign countries and with Rethink Mental Illness. I was a  patron of the Prisoner Penfriends until March 2023. I am a member of the editorial board of the Prison Service Journal.

In the media

I have been the subject of a BBC 4/World Service documentary on the life of HMP Whatton. I have been featured in an article in the Guardian newspaper when I received an award for Leadership Excellence in public service in 2018 and in the Times newspaper about my rehabilitation work. I have also been featured in news articles about the anti-libidinal drug project which was pioneered at HMP Whatton, and articles following the award of an OBE in the 2017 New Year’s honours list, and for receiving honorary doctorates from Nottingham Trent (2015) and Keele (2018) universities. I also was awarded an honorary professor title by Nottingham Trent University in 2021.

Interviewed for Radio 5 live May 2023 (Should prisoners be compelled to attend court for sentencing?).

Recent publications


Book Chapters:

Practice Journals

NOTA news