Emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people in the youth justice system

Commenting on the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s report (attached), Jenny Talbot, programme manager for learning disabilities and difficulties at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

This report is an important reminder to government that, despite a welcome reduction in child imprisonment, far too many vulnerable children and young people still end up in large, bleak institutions instead of getting the mental health and social care that they need.

You can download and read the report here

Children

Children are often devastated when their mum is sent to prison but their interests are rarely considered by a justice system which is blind to their needs, a new report by the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) reveals.

For most children, their mother is their primary carer. Every year an estimated 17,000 children experience their mum being sent to prison. Last year, 83% of women sentenced to prison had committed a non-violent crime and 62% were serving a sentence of six months or less.

The report shows that a mother’s imprisonment not only damages the child’s relationship with her, but can affect every area of their lives, including their housing, education, health, and well-being.

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The House of Commons will begin to formally scrutinise the Offensive Weapons Bill this Wednesday (27 June) as it holds its second reading debate.

In preparation, the Prison Reform Trust has produced a short briefing for MPs, highlighting concerns about the proposals to introduce new and modified existing offences, as well as the expansion of mandatory sentences.

There is understandable public concern about the recent spate of acid attacks and rise in knife crime in some inner-city areas. But experience suggests that solutions are most likely to lie in better regulation and control of supply and increased investment in preventative measures, including early intervention, education, trauma-informed and public health responses.

Click here to download a copy of the briefing.

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PRT comment: HMYOI Feltham A

09/05/2018 00:01:00

Commenting on today’s inspection report, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
 
“This is an encouraging report. As the Chief Inspector notes, there have been false dawns before in difficult prisons, and it is crucial that progress at Feltham continues. But there is much for the rest of prison estate to learn from this report, especially in relation to safety. The improvement at Feltham is down to an approach that focuses on incentives for good behaviour, and resolving conflict before it turns into violence. Ministers should step back from plans in the adult estate to equip staff with more weapons, escalating the risk of violence rather than reducing it.”

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In an innovative partnership, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Oxford University and the Prison Reform Trust have come together to create new resources, including films and briefings, for criminal justice professionals to help improve their understanding of the impacts of maternal imprisonment.

It is estimated that 17,000 children every year are affected by maternal imprisonment in England and Wales. 95% (16,000) of these children are forced to leave their homes as their mother's imprisonment leaves them without an adult to take care of them.

Despite this, no government agency has responsibility for ensuring the welfare of these children is safeguarded and their rights are protected.

Click 'read more' for the full story and to watch one of the films.

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The latest edition of the Prison Reform Trust's Bromley briefings prison factfile highlights in facts and figures the consequences of a punitive political arms race over criminal justice policy over the past three decades. Steep cuts to prison staff and budgets in recent years have exposed the fault lines of a failed approach. The result is an overcrowded and overstretched prison system where standards of safety and decency are way below international expectations.
 
This year’s Bromley briefings open with a brand new section which we have called “The long view”. The Prison Reform Trust has built its reputation over more than three decades on presenting accurate evidence about prisons and the people in them. In a world where ministers feel compelled to respond to issues with ever greater immediacy, “The long view” offers an antidote to the latest Twitter storm or early morning grilling in the media.

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This week the Prison Reform Trust will be hosting a roundtable event to discuss the learning from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Prison Reform Fellowships. From 2010–2015, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust funded Travelling Fellowships with a particular focus on prison reform across the world. The Fellowships are the result of an innovative partnership between WCMT and the Prison Reform Trust.

The meeting will focus on the findings of two recently published briefings, authored by Jessica Jacobson and Helen Fair of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, University of London, which highlight some of the learning from these Fellowships in maintaining contact between prisoners and their families and problem-solving approaches to criminal justice.  

Attendees include WCMT fellows, senior policymakers and practitioners. For more information please contact Justin Elder justin.elder@prisonreformtrust.org.uk 

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The Prison Reform Trust has today (6 February) published a briefing and written to Liz Truss outlining our position following the government's response to Charlie Taylor's review of the youth justice system.

Whilst there are some positive commitments in the government's response, some of Taylor's key recommendations have been abandoned. Devolution of youth custody budgets; the national roll out of schemes to divert children away from the criminal justice system; reducing the disproportionate numbers of children in care in trouble with the law; and the introduction of Children's Panels all require reconsideration by the government to ensure that the welcome reduction in the needless imprisonment of children continues.

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Commenting on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons thematic report on Children in Custody 2015–16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres and young offender institutions, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This worrying annual survey shows why the government was right to ask Charlie Taylor to conduct a fundamental review of how we look after the children we still send to prison. But it also shows why a response to that report, completed 5 months ago, is badly overdue as the situation gets worse not better. Investing in these young damaged lives can only pay dividends for the future - the warning signs of further delay could not be any clearer.”

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Children and Social Work Bill

17/10/2016 12:27:00

Ahead of tomorrow's (18 October) House of Lords debate on the Children and Social Work Bill, the Prison Reform Trust has produced a short briefing for Peers outlining the key areas of the bill and tabled amendments.

You can read a copy of the briefing by clicking here.

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Up to half of all children in custody have been in care at some point. This is a tragic waste of young lives which must be addressed if all children in care are to get the best start in life, an independent review chaired by the crossbench peer Lord Laming has said.

The review, established by the Prison Reform Trust, calls for a coherent programme of reform, led from the very top of government, to help improve the life chances of looked after children and prevent future crime.

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