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PRT comment: HMP Altcourse

20/03/2018 10:14:00

Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Altcourse, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"It’s heartening to see an optimistic inspection about a local prison. But the most important fact about HMP Altcourse isn’t mentioned in the report. It has a cost per place of over £67,000—more than double that of another G4S prison, Birmingham, about which inspectors have reached much less positive conclusions. With the Altcourse contract coming up for renewal in two years’ time, ministers need to decide whether to drive the price down, as they have across the public sector and in every recent competition. They should know by now what the consequences of doing so are likely to be.”


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Following correspondence with the chair of the independent review, Sir Simon Wessely, the Prison Reform Trust, Centre for Mental Health, and Together for Mental Wellbeing convened a meeting to provide a ‘criminal justice’ response to the review’s initial consultation. The meeting was chaired by Lord Bradley, and our response can be read by clicking here

In a follow up discussion with Sir Simon, we have agreed to convene a further meeting that will focus on people with a learning disability and/or autism in the criminal justice system, which will be held in April. 

Further information about the independent review can be found by clicking here.

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The government's consultation on domestic abuse, launched today, includes a welcome committment to £2 million of dedicated support for female offenders. Research collated by the Prison Reform Trust shows that 57% of women in prison report having been victims of domestic violence as adults. This is likely to be an underestimate.

Commenting, Jenny Earle, Director of PRT's programme to reduce women's imprisonment, said:

“We welcome the government’s recognition that coercive relationships can be a major driver to offending by women. It is time for concerted action to help women break the cycle of victimisation and offending that blights too many lives. The police, prosecutors, courts, probation services and the judiciary must work closely with women’s services to achieve the government’s aims of better outcomes for women and their families, and to reduce offending. The proposed Domestic Abuse Commissioner can play a key role in achieving a joined up approach to women who have been victims of much more serious offences than those for which they are commonly imprisoned.”


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Khulisa, a small, innovative charity which exists to improve the wellbeing of the most socially excluded people in society, has won the 2018 Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Re-integration for its work at HMP Forest Bank in Manchester.

The highly commended prize was awarded to Tempus Novo for its work getting prisoners into sustainable employment on release from prisons in Yorkshire. Commendations were awarded to Spark Inside for its coaching programme for prisoners at HMP Belmarsh; and to Anawim for the in-reach and through the gate services it provides to women at HMP/YOI Foston Hall.

Click 'read more' to find out more about this year's prize winning projects and the organisations working to turn help people successfully reintegrate into society.

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Commenting on the speech made this morning by the Justice Secretary Rt Hon David Gauke MP on prison reform, Peter Dawson , director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"The Justice Secretary set out an ambitious programme of reform for our prisons. But his predecessor promised to save £400m in the coming year. David Gauke's refusal to rule out further cuts in prisons raises serious doubts as to whether any of it is deliverable. Reducing reoffending, while a welcome ambition, will not make any significant dent in the size of the prison population. It is only by stemming the flow of people into prison and reversing sentence inflation that the government can begin to reduce chronic levels of overcrowding and get a grip on declining standards of safety and purposeful activity in our prisons. Anything else is wishful thinking."

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