New director announced

Trustees of the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) are delighted to announce the appointment of its new director, Peter Dawson. Peter is currently deputy director of PRT and is only the third director to be appointed in the history of the organisation.

Peter has spent the majority of his career in government and the prison service. He was Governor of HMP Downview and HMP High Down between 2005 and 2012. Before joining PRT in 2015, Peter also worked in the private sector for Sodexo Justice Services.

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step change at prt

 

As you will be aware, we were delighted to announce in January that James Timpson OBE is to chair PRT from tomorrow, 1st April 2016. We are pleased to tell you that our current chair, Lord Woolf, has kindly agreed to become honorary president of the Prison Reform Trust alongside Douglas Hurd.

I am also taking this opportunity to let friends know of my own plan to step down in the summer as director of PRT. In a measured transition for the charity, this will enable our new Chair and the Board of Trustees to choose a new director, the third in its history, to lead our excellent team and make a substantive contribution to the proposed new prison reform bill and forthcoming white paper. There is huge scope to build on recent achievements which we have helped to secure from reducing child imprisonment to developing services to divert people with mental health needs or a learning disability into the treatment and care they need.

I am tremendously grateful to have been given the opportunity, with your support, to lead such a good charity and to champion such a worthwhile cause. In over sixteen years there has been so much to learn from all those involved with and in prisons, about advocacy and the need to take a balanced, strategic approach, about the nature of critical friendship to a valued but beleaguered public service, about how to brook disappointment and how, hopefully without over-claiming, to celebrate the success of PRT with our partners and supporters.

Juliet has written an article for the Guardian about plan to step down, you can read it by clicking this link.

You can listen to a BBC profile of Juliet by clicking here and read her article in the Friend.

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Government plans to hold young children and girls with older teenage boy in a proposed new 320-place “secure college” in Leicester were rejected by Peers in a tight vote in the House of Lords during the Report Stage (Day 2) debate on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. Peers voted by 186 to 185, majority one, to back a proposal to prevent the establishments housing girls or children under the age of 15. 

Read the full debate by clicking here.


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The Prison Reform Trust has prepared a briefing (pdf) to assist Peers in the Report Stage (Day 1) debate on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is scheduled to take place on Monday 20 October.


The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is the fourth Ministry of Justice-led criminal justice bill introduced by the Coalition Government. Following a series of troubling HM Inspectorate of Prisons and Independent Monitoring Board reports and the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick’s warning of a “political and policy failure” in prison policy, it is difficult to understand why the Government is introducing measures which will increase the size of the prison population, raise public costs and add significantly to the work of criminal justice agencies at a time when staff, resources and budgets are already overstretched. Many of the provisions involve significant transfers of powers to the Secretary of State, limiting the discretion of operational managers and reducing scope for effective Parliamentary scrutiny. Plans for a 300-place secure college, housing boys and girls aged 12-17, along with mandatory prison sentences for knife possession, could drive up the numbers of children in custody following a welcome period of decline both in youth imprisonment and youth crime. 


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PRT letters in the press

15/10/2014 17:57:00

The Prison Reform Trust has had letters published in two national broadsheets, the Guardian, about a recent IMB report on Wormwood Scrubs, and the Daily Telegraph about proposals to build the largest children's prison in Europe. 

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Figures released today by the Ministry of Justice paint a complex picture of a prison service making heroic strides in some areas while struggling to cope with the impact of rising prison numbers and dramatic cuts to prison staff and budgets.

Commenting, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“The tragic rise in the numbers of self-inflicted deaths in custody is the most vivid of the flashing warning signs of a prison service placed under unprecedented strain. Ministers must heed and not dismiss what the facts and figures are telling them. Slashing prison budgets while warehousing ever greater numbers in larger prisons overseen by fewer and less experienced staff is no way to transform rehabilitation.

“Good people have worked hard year on year to make prisons safer and more constructive places. In less than two years of thoughtless change and headline-grabbing policy, sharply rising levels of suicide and violence show just how far their work has been set back.”

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