the norway growth project

Uncovering quality practice in Norwegian Prisons

Norwegian penal practice has been recognised globally as exceptional due to its humanistic conditions and low rates of imprisonment. This two year research project was carried out by Dr Sarah Lewis, in collaboration with the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth. It used creative methodologies to explore what prisoners and practitioners believed to be the most important aspects of prison practice, with respect to personal growth.  

The aim of the project was to capture the successful ingredients of prison practice, from the perspective of prisoners and staff. The project took place in a high-security prison, a low security prison and a halfway house, with the central aim of tracing the inmates journey from sentence to release.  

This project focused on prison practice that facilitates personal growth and both practitioners and prisoners formed the research team, in order to gain a clear perspective of quality practice in Norwegian Prison. It was an appreciative inquiry, focusing on those aspects of the organisation that promote personal growth. In addition to this, a report was written for each prison to articulate the key findings and critically examine how practice could be developed in the future.


a few words about

how the principles of growth were created

In 2014, Dr Sarah Lewis carried out an extensive research project in Norway, examining which elements of practice promote growth and why. This Project used creative research methodologies, including photo-essays.  Staff and prisoners were given a camera and asked to capture growth practice and then statements (or essays) were attached to each image, explaining its meaning. These statements were analysed and created the Principles of Growth.  The Norway Growth Project involved prisoners and staff in the design, implementation and analysis of the photo-essays.   The Principles were also found within two additional prisons in Norway, cementing the principles and increasing their validity. Following on from this project, Dr Sarah Lewis sought to apply the findings responsively within English prisons and once again, the Principles of Growth emerged for the staff and prisoners who participated in the Project.  These principles are supported by the academic literature around human potential, considering contextual factors around personal growth and how this knowledge can be used to transform culture.  The Principles form the theoretical framework by which the Growth Project was established and all other Growth Activities. 


grow transform belong

Penal Reform Solutions offers a range of services to transform organisational culture in prisons, correctional services, schools and organisations. We facilitate organisational growth through research informed, bespoke projects that are inclusive and growth-focused.