top of page


David Wilson is Professor Emeritus of Criminology and the founding Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University. Prior to taking up an academic appointment in 1997, David was a Prison Governor working at a variety of establishments in a number of different roles.


He worked at Finnamore Wood, Grendon, Wormwood Scrubs and at Woodhill in Milton Keynes - where he helped to design and ran the two units for the 12 most violent prisoners in the country, which brought him into contact with virtually every recent serial killer.


David regularly appears in the print and broadcast media as a commentator and presenter.

David became a National Teaching Fellow in 2012 and won the Broadcast and RTS Awards for best documentary in 2017 for Interview with a Murderer, which was shown on Channel 4. 


"With characteristic brilliance and admirably sensitivity, Wilson illuminates the complex causes of their often horrific crimes.”

Professor Simon Winlow, 2019

Vice President of the British Society of Criminology discussing Wilson's professional memoir, My Life with Murderers. 

In June 2021,  David's latest podcast - If it Bleeds, it Leads - which he co-presents with Emilia Fox, became the number one true crime podcast in the country and entered the top 10 national podcasts.  His new book A Plot to Kill plo was also published in June 2021 after being serialised in the Daily Mail.


David Wilson is Professor Emeritus of Criminology and founding Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University – one of the university’s “research centres of excellence”.  He is the former Editor of the prestigious Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, which is produced five times per year.  Prior to taking up his academic appointment in September 1997, David was Senior Policy Advisor to the Prison Reform Trust, and between October 1983-April 1997 he worked as a Prison Governor.


David completed his PhD at Selwyn College Cambridge in 1983, and immediately joined HM Prison Service as a governor grade working in a variety of establishments in a number of different roles.  His applied and academic work has focused on violent men and why some will go on to kill - including serial murder.  He is also well-known as a commentator, writer and as a radio and TV presenter.

David has advised on live police investigations related to a linked series of murders and has provided training to new Senior Investigating Officers who will take charge of murder inquiries. 


His current research interests range from the phenomenon of British serial murder, family annihilation, hitmen and lethal violence within organised crime, to all aspects of prison history and penal reform.


Media Work

David’s recent TV work has included BBC Scotland's David Wilson's Crime Files in 2020, and filming on the second series has now been completed. The second series was shown between August and December 2021.  A third series will be filmed in the middle of 2022.


He also appeared with Emilia Fox in Channel 4's Walking in Killer's Footsteps.  This series was shown in June 2021 and all three episodes are available to view on All4.  A second series will be shown in 2022. 


David also helped to devise and presented Radio 4's In The Criminologist’s Chair which was first broadcast in 2016.


David regularly appears on the broadcast media, both as a presenter and as a commentator. He also writes for a number of broadsheet and tabloid newspapers about crime and punishment. 


His agent is Jacquie Drewe at Curtis Brown – 0207 393 4460. 

Media Work

Academic Work

David has published over 50 peer review articles in journals ranging from The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice and Crime Media Culture to The Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology and Criminal Psychology. 


His subjects have ranged from prisons and penal reform to Serial Killers, Hitmen and Family Annihilators.  He has written 17 books – most recently Signs of Murder which was published in 2020.  His professional memoir, My Life with Murderers was shortlisted for the Saltire Award in 2019. 


To view and purchase David's books, visit his Amazon Author page.

Academic Wor

Charity Work

David works with a number of charities and voluntary organisations, all connected with prisons and penal reform.

David was a Trustee and Vice Chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform between 1999 and 2014. He also chaired the League's Executive Committee which considered how to celebrate the fact that 2016 was the League's 150th anniversary.

David is Vice President of New Bridge, a charity formed by the late Lord Longford to befriend and support current and released prisoners and he Chairs New Bridge’s annual Youth Conference each November.

David is the Chair of the Grendon Friends Trust, which supports the unique and pioneering therapeutic work of HMP Grendon – the only prison in Europe that wholly operates as a therapeutic community.


Studying Criminology

Criminology is often described as a 'rendezvous discipline'.  In other words it uses the disciplines of Psychology, Sociology, History, Law and Anthropology - at the very least - to discuss the problems of crime, offenders and what to do to respond to the issues that they pose.  Criminology considers how certain behaviours become labelled as 'crime' in some societies at certain times, whilst other societies choose to view these behaviours in different ways.


If you want to study Criminology there is no "right" background to have and, of note, until very recently there was no A-Level in Criminology.  However, do remember that Criminology is not like CSI or The Silence of the Lambs and there is, for example, so much more to studying Criminology than what has become known as 'offender profiling'.


If you are an A-level student and want to study Criminology at University it is best to read and cite some of the following books in your personal statements - As If by Blake Morrison about the murder of James Bulger; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; David Wilson's A History of British Serial Killing; or The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.


You cannot 'become' a Criminologist unless you have a degree in Criminology and - most likely - you will have, at the very least, a Masters degree in Criminology or Psychology.


It is always good to have work experience as a Criminologist.  However, you will not be able to get work experience until you are at least 18.  Try volunteering for The New Bridge Foundation - an organisation founded in 1956 by Lord Longford to create a bridge between offenders and the community.  New Bridge also produces the national prisoner newspaper called Inside Time.


If you are over 18 and want to become a Criminologist, you will still need to have degree in the subject and to have work experience.

Studying Criminology



Twitter: @profdavidwilson

General Enquiries: 01213315000

Media Enquiries: 02073934460

Please note: Professor Wilson is not able to undertake private investigations of any kind. If you wish to report a crime that should be done via the normal police channels. Nor is Professor Wilson able to help with individual A-Level extended projects. However, he speaks regularly at A-Level conferences which should be of use to students who are interested in studying Criminology and Psychology at University. Details about his public speaking engagements can be found via this website or on Twitter.

bottom of page