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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.

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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.

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Angiolini five years on

15/06/2017 08:47:00

The Scottish Working Group on Women Offenders is holding an event at the Scottish Parliament today, Thursday 15 June, to review progress five years on from the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini’s report of the Commission on Women Offenders.   Professor Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive of Families Outside, is presenting and will talk about the Transforming Lives programme’s work to reduce women’s imprisonment in Scotland.

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There should be a step change in the availability of release on temporary licence (ROTL) out of prisons to give more businesses the opportunity to employ prisoners in the community as part of preparation for their release, according to a new report published today (2 June) by the Prison Reform Trust.
 
The report, which details the findings of a two-year action learning project Out for Good based in HMP Brixton in south London, says there is "huge potential" to get more prisoners into jobs and training. It found a substantial number of employers both open to employing ex-offenders and willing to work with prisons to achieve this.

Against expectations, the report found it was not the attitudes of employers but national prison policy and practice which was the main barrier preventing opportunities for work and training from being seized.

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Figures released today (Monday 8 May) by the Prison Reform Trust to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (8–14 May) reveal that our overcrowded and overstretched prisons are struggling to meet the needs of the high numbers of people in their care with a mental health need or learning disability. 

Rising levels of self-inflicted deaths and record numbers of self-harm incidents point to the urgent need for the next government, whatever its political complexion, to address the decline in safety and standards in our prisons and to increase support in the justice system for vulnerable defendants.

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