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Last Wednesday afternoon we were alerted by our partners in Scotland, Families Outside, to a problem with applications from prisoners’ families to the Assisted Prisons Visits Unit. A new online application system was not working and there appeared to be no way of making an application on paper. We spoke to Clinks, whose members were raising the issue with them too and sent a joint letter to the Prisons Minister at 10am on Thursday. By the afternoon we were pleased to have a response from the minister, Sam Gyimah, saying the system was up and running and families could continue to make paper applications if they wished.

We hope this intervention has resolved matters but of course what matters now is that the online process is reliable and that it really is possible for people who don’t have access to the internet to make their application on paper without being disadvantaged. If that is not your experience, Oonagh Ryder at Clinks (Oonagh.Ryder@clinks.org) would be pleased to hear from you.

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Queen's speech

21/06/2017 13:13:00

Commenting, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
 
“It is immensely disappointing that the government has dropped its commitment to a prison reform bill. There was cross party support for this long overdue legislation. The decision puts even more pressure on the new justice secretary to find ways to stop our chronic overuse of prison so that this hardest pressed of public services can start to repair the damage his predecessors have inflicted upon it.
 
“He should start by spending the money earmarked for new prisons on measures that would make them unnecessary. That means supporting people in their communities and helping the people who really do need to be in prison to get out on time and stay out for good.”

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The number of women in prison in England and Wales is in touching distance of 4,000 for the first time in four-and-a-half years. Ministry of Justice figures released last Friday show the female prison population currently stands at 3,994.

The latest edition of Prison: the facts (Bromley briefings summer 2017), published today and covered exclusively on this morning’s edition of BBC Radio Four Woman’s Hour, shows an increase of 200 women in prison in the past year has pushed the female prison population towards this significant watershed after years of gradual but sustained decline in the numbers of women behind bars. The briefing highlights facts and figures which show the beleaguered state of our overcrowded prison system and the men and women in its care.

Click 'read more' for the full story

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Today sees the publication of two briefings which present learning from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Prison Reform Fellowships. These two briefings, authored by Jessica Jacobson and Helen Fair of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, University of London, are the last in a series of five.

The first briefing examines the importance of positive peer relations for promoting desistance and providing moral and practical support to people in prison and on release, whilst the second briefing profiles interventions which encourage people to develop a positive sense of self and a sense of responsibility for their own lives and towards others.

Click 'read more' for the full story.

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