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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Deputy Director, Peter Dawson has written his thoughts on David Cameron's speech.

An honest reaction to David Cameron’s speech on prison reform? Well, more meat than might have been expected—and a really welcome rabbit out of the hat in ‘banning the box’ for all civil service appointments, allowing ex offenders to compete on fair terms for several hundred thousand jobs. The Prime Minister robustly dismissed the myths both that prison is too soft, and that mass imprisonment might reduce crime.
But some very big questions remain for Michael Gove to answer over the next few months.

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Charities and local businesses are struggling to fill volunteer and work placements as a result of strict rules on the temporary release of prisoners introduced by the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The changes to release on temporary licence (ROTL) are squandering the goodwill of voluntary and private sector organisations and preventing prisoners from getting jobs and training in the community to help them turn their lives around, a joint briefing published today by Clinks and the Prison Reform Trust reveals.

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Commenting on the allegations made in the BBC Panorama programme broadcast on Monday 11 January 2016 regarding Medway Secure Training Centre (STC), Peter Dawson, Deputy Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“The evidence Panorama has produced is profoundly shocking. Those who abuse and those who turn a blind eye must be brought to book.  Police investigations need to be concluded quickly and prosecutions follow.

“The allegation that records are routinely falsified is also very serious, and the future of Medway must be considered by ministers. But the issue goes well beyond one secure training centre. The abuse of authority by staff is a constant and severe risk in any custodial institution. It is one of many reasons why locking up children must always be an absolute last resort. The safeguards in Secure Training Centres (STCs) and Young Offender Institutions are comprehensive in theory. But the fact that they have failed so terribly in this instance must make us ask whether those safeguards actually work.”

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Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust

Most people would say they know something about prison. They recognise the abiding austere image of the barred cell window or, in contrast, the holiday camp, beloved by the tabloid press, where old lags are reported to laze at taxpayers' expense. Yet, despite our zest for incarceration, few really know what life is like beyond the locked iron gates.

Prisons are our least visible, most beleaguered public service. At the close of the year, 70 of 117 prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded. As prison numbers soared to over 85,000 in 2015, drastic budget cuts saw staff numbers plummet. Serious assaults rose and purposeful activity fell to highest and lowest recorded levels respectively. The facts and figures about the state of our prisons and the state of people in them are carefully laid out and referenced in our Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, Autumn 2015.

To read the full article click 'read more'.

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