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Dr Ellie Brown

Head of Strategy


Ellie brings to Crest a breadth of knowledge and experience of the prison system, the legal system and criminal justice more broadly.

Prior to her role at Crest, Ellie worked in the legal industry, having qualified as a solicitor. In 2015, she left the profession to undertake a masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice, at the University of Oxford. Ellie later completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge (in 2021), where she examined the use of solitary confinement in prisons and how law governs such usage, by conducting qualitative research in a high security prison.


During her time at Cambridge, Ellie was the Executive Director of the Cambridge Pro Bono Project where she oversaw projects exploring the use of missiles in Syria and the reporting framework for the MoD; the trafficking and modern slavery of women from Morocco to Spain for temporary employment purposes; and the legality of employers’ decisions to require the disclosure of criminal convictions. Ellie was also very involved in a prison education charity where she headed up a prison based law course and taught criminology and advocacy skills across a number of prisons.


In 2019, Ellie was seconded to the Sentencing Council, where she advised on revising the sentencing guidelines for various drug offences and attempted murder and delivered serious crime seminars to new judges for the Judicial Training College.


In 2021, Ellie transferred to the Bar, where she had a multi-disciplinary practice (crime, family and civil), and remains a door tenant at 7BR.


Ellie has worked closely with the Ministry of Justice on prison reform by taking part in a number of working groups including one on ‘evidence informed security policies’. She also provided seminars to the Ministry of Justice on prison research and the ethics of undertaking research with vulnerable individuals. 


Ellie is a trustee of the Bromley Trust.

Key achievements and awards

  • Cambridge Society for the Application of Research Award (Winner) 2020

  • Vice Chancellor’s Research Impact and Engagement Award (Finalist) 2019

  • Howard League John Sunley Prize (Short listed) 2017

  • Oxford Routledge Prize for Best Dissertation (Winner) 2016

  • Secured funding from the Arts Council in 2019, to run a photography and creative arts project in a high security prison. The project culminated in a short documentary which was nominated by the British Film Awards (Dec 2021) for ‘Best Short Documentary’. 



  • Prison Segregation: the Limits of Law, book published by Routledge in March 2023

  • A Systematic Review of Prison Segregation, published in the Journal of Aggression and Violent Behaviour in 2020

  • Exploring the Impact of Council of Europe Institutions Through a Cross-Jurisdiction Collaboration, published by the Howard League for Penal Reform in 2018

  • Online Dispute Resolution: An International Snapshot, published by Law, Technology and Access to Justice in May 2019

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