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Women in prison have often been victims of much more serious offences than those of which they have been convicted, a new report published today by the Prison Reform Trust reveals.

The report is timely in light of the forthcoming Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and development of the government’s strategy on women offenders. A draft version of the report was discussed at a high level PRT summit in October, chaired by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Vera Baird and attended by the then-Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Sarah Newton MP.

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Taking responsibility behind bars

01/12/2017 00:01:00

Enabling people in prison to take responsibility for day to day life behind bars encourages a greater sense of autonomy and self-respect and contributes to better decision making by prison managers, according to a new report published today (1 December) by the Prison Reform Trust.
 
The report outlines the findings of PRT’s innovative active citizens programme, launched in 2015 with the kind support of the Milo & Violet Cripps Charitable Trust. Additional support from the Bromley Trust and the  Sir James Reckitt Charity will allow PRT to take the programme to more prisons in the coming year.

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Commenting on research on prison suicides published in the Lancet, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"This useful research shows that reducing suicides in prison is complex. But we know in this country that between 2008 and 2014 the situation was improving before deteriorating sharply as staffing levels were drastically reduced. Good procedures and good relationships underpin every aspect of safety in prison—overcrowding is just one of the reasons both are under pressure. Tackling it is long overdue and vital to prisons delivering every aspect of the government's many ambitions for reform."

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The Prison Reform Trust has published Triage and diversion: Getting it Right 24/7, the report of a seminar held with Police Scotland earlier this year to consider the benefits and opportunities of early interventions for women. The briefing will inform an event in Edinburgh on Monday 27 November entitled Creating A Diversion—ending unnecessary imprisonment and punishment of women in the criminal justice system. The event is organised by the Scottish Working Group on Women Offenders together with the Prison Reform Trust and WFI Justice for Women, supported by Community Justice Scotland.

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Commenting on the Ministry of Justice's safety in custody statistics published today, Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Despite a small but welcome fall in deaths, every other indicator points to the ongoing and longstanding deterioration in standards of safety in our overstretched prisons. Record levels of self-harm and assaults highlight mounting levels of frustration and despair among prisoners. Too many prisoners are held in overcrowded and impoverished conditions with too few staff to provide a safe and constructive regime. With prison numbers projected to increase, declining levels of safety will be very difficult to turn around without a concerted effort by ministers to take the pressure off the system by reducing prison numbers."

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