Comment pieces and articles

Prison Reform Trust staff regularly write articles for online and print publications, you can read them here.

Recent articles

May1 01/05/2017 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

Extended sentences have been covered a number of times in Inside Time in the last couple of years, but there still seems to be some confusion about what they mean for release, categorisation and recall.

Part of the reason for the confusion is that there have been several types of extended sentences over the years, and changes made to these sentences over time which impact on how and when you can be released from prison.

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Apr1 01/04/2017 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

This month we want to answer some common questions about a subject we get many calls about – Approved Premises.

Approved premises (AP) are premises approved under Section 13 of the Offender Management Act 2007. They provide intensive supervision for those who present a high or very high risk of serious harm.  They are mostly used for people on licence, but also accommodate small numbers of people on bail, community sentences or suspended sentences. As well as functioning as part of monitoring and risk management, they provide key workers and a programme of purposeful activity that is intended to help with reducing re-offending and reintegration into society.

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Mar1 01/03/2017 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

Over the last few months our advice and information team has received a number of enquiries relating to access to hygiene items, and in particular toilet rolls. We have heard from people who say staff have limited them to one or two toilet rolls per week and have refused to provide more if this is not enough—instead saying that any additional toilet paper should be purchased on the canteen in advance. These challenges were echoed by a letter to the Inside Time mailbag which reported a whole wing without toilet paper for 4 days!

Estimating and limiting how much toilet paper a person may use in a week seems an unnecessary and intrusive approach. Prison rules are clear that if someone needs toilet paper it should be provided. It can be degrading enough to have to ask for basic toiletries such as this, without then being refused. 

This breakdown in common sense and decency is concerning given the government’s intention to reduce some of the detail in the current collection of prison service instructions which set out how a prison should be run.

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Feb1 01/02/2017 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

The challenges of maintaining innocence in prison come up time and time again though our advice and information service, as well as in the mailbag of Inside Time. It can cause a number of difficulties in relation to IEP level, categorisation as well as parole. Sadly there are not any easy answers but there are a handful of references to this through the current Prison Service Instructions (PSIs) which are useful to know and might help.

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Dec1 01/12/2016 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

Last December the Ministry of Justice announced a review into the care and management of transgender prisoners. A year later and finally the review has been published, accompanied by Prison Service Instruction 17/2016 The Care and Management of Transgender Offenders which must be fully implemented by 1st January 2017. Here we summarise some key points and changes.

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Nov11 11/11/2016 16:47:00 by Peter Dawson

“One tries not to be an Old Git but they don't make it easy”. So says Alan Bennett, and reading Prison Safety and Reform, the government’s long awaited white paper published last week, anyone with history on the subject will find it easy to sympathise. This is scarcely the first time in the last two decades that a politician has declared their determination to create a prison system that makes a difference. And for all of its 61 pages, the document begs many more questions than it answers.

Click 'read more' for PRT Director, Peter Dawson's, full reaction to the prisons white paper.

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Nov1 01/11/2016 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

Earlier this year we wrote a column about time out of cell and the impact that staffing shortages were having on regimes in some prisons. An evident knock-on effect of this which we get regular reports of is difficulty gaining access to the library.

Libraries are important to prisoners for a number of reasons. Reading can be a fulfilling and productive way for people to spend their time. Improving literacy is recognised as an important step in rehabilitation. Some prisoners also need access to the library to support education courses or to work on legal cases or to access information about prisons law. 

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Oct1 01/10/2016 00:01:00 by Ryan Harman

Complaints about food in prison are all too common and are a regular subject of letters to Inside Time’s mailbag. When issues like this become so familiar there is a risk that they get glossed over and lose the attention they deserve. For this reason we welcome Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) shining the light on this subject in a recently published findings paper entitled Life in prison: Food.

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Sep22 22/09/2016 17:33:00 by Jenny Earle

Camping should be for holiday makers—not for vulnerable women leaving prison hoping to rebuild their lives with their families and communities. Yet earlier this year inspectors revealed that some women were being handed tents and sleeping bags at the prison gates as they had no safe place to go to on release.

This week the Prison Reform Trust and Women in Prison published a new report. It found that a chronic shortage of safe and stable housing for women leaving prison is leading to more crime, more victims and greater use of unnecessary and expensive imprisonment.

Six in ten women leaving prison may not have a home to go to on release, and recent prison inspectorate reports suggest that the situation may be getting worse.

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