Dave Nicholson

PhD Student
Dave Nicholson


Dave is a full time PhD student who started his PhD in 2019. This is funded through the ex-offender-led co-operative he co-founded, Ex-Cell Solutions. He teaches within the department of Sociology  here at MMU and is also a freelance prison employment and education development consultant.


Dave is a former Probation Officer. He read Social and Political Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge and has a Masters in Applied Criminology, Penology and Management from the University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology.

He was Senior Research Associate at Manchester Polytechnic Centre for Employment Research where he specialised in research and development of ethnic minority and community business development strategies.

Dave pioneered the development of sustainable Social Enterprise in construction to improve offenders access to the labour market in 1994 as founder Director of Moss Side Community Build in Manchester (see Robinson, D. et al (1998) Social Enterprise Zones: Building Innovation into Regeneration. Joseph Rowntree Foundation/York Publishing. York. P.24.)

He went on to found Ex-Cell Solutions, the only Cooperative Development Body in the UK working exclusively with offenders and ex-offenders and worked on a 3-year Ministry of Justice contract (2011-2014) developing cooperative and mutual approaches to reducing reoffending.

Dave is Chair of SERIF which focuses on researching the value and impact of using social enterprise within prisons and developing innovative enterprising solutions to reducing reoffending.


Co-operative and mutual social enterprise within the Criminal Justice System

Prisoner Resettlement

Offender rehabilitation/desistance

Probation delivery

Qualitative Research Methods

(Participatory) Action Research.

Research Activity

Dave is currently undertaking his PhD, on 'Cooperating Out of Crime?' What can cooperatives bring to offender rehabilitation?’ focusing on the use of co-production to promote desistance-supporting through the prison gate employment co-operatives.

Independently of PERU he is also involved in contract research and consultancy developing strategies to overcome the barriers to social enterprise and co-operative development in prisons and through the prison gate in the community.


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