Conditions

Commenting on the publication of the results from the 10 prisons project by the Ministry of Justice today, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“Any reduction in violence in any prison is welcome. But the 10 prisons project and the fate of a prisons minister always risked being a distraction from the real issue facing the government. That is about overcrowding—still running at over 20% despite three decades of prison building. It has always been possible to yank a very poor prison back from the abyss for a while, but the strategic problem of prisons holding too many people has never been properly addressed. Any glimmers of systemic improvement will be quickly snuffed out if we return to the failed ‘prison works’ policies that have created this calamity in the first place.”

 

The Prison Reform Trust has produced two infographics to show performance in each of the 10 prisons for assaults and positive drug tests.

Click here to see performance in assaults

Click here to see performance in positive drug tests

 

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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In response to the recent government announcements on a review of sentencingbuilding 10,000 additional prison places; and further investment in prison security, the Prison Reform Trust has written three separate letters seeking urgent clarification in order to assist our and wider public understanding.

We have written to:

  1. Robert Buckland—regarding the announcement of 10,000 additional prison places

  2. Richard Heaton—seeking clarification on the announcement of a review of sentencing

  3. Jo Farrar—about the announcement of £100m investment for additional prison security

Because of the public interest created by the announcements and the lack of opportunity for debate, we are publishing these letters and will publish the responses once they have been received.

You can read our response to the original announcements by clicking here.

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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A new report published today (8 August) by the Prison Reform Trust demonstrates the benefits when prisoners are consulted about how to address areas of concern in prisons.

Prisoners reforming prisons focuses on three important areas of prison life—safety, respectful relationships, and the responsible use of time in prison. The prisoners’ input, summarised in this report, suggests solutions to crucial areas in which prisons’ performance have recently shown a marked decline.

The report is the second in a series under the Prison Reform Trust’s active citizens programme. The findings are based on work between the Prison Reform Trust and individual prisons to establish active citizen panels—providing a structure to consult prisoners about an issue that concerns them in their prison.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the latest safety in custody statistics published today by the Ministry of Justice, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

 “The faint hope that our prison system might have turned a corner has been dashed by these numbers. Prisons are still getting more dangerous as places where people have to live and work.  More people than last year chose to take their own life rather than endure it. When an individual prison hits rock bottom, the government reduces the number of prisoners it holds – but it continues to ignore the obvious truth that it is the prison system as a whole that is grossly overcrowded. Ministers talk about having recruited more staff, but the problem will only be solved by having fewer prisoners.”

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the urgent notification issued by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons at HMYOI Feltham A, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This distressing report stands in stark contrast both to previous evidence of some improvement at Feltham and to a very positive report issued only last week about a larger but otherwise similar Young Offender Institution in the north of England. This huge discrepancy in the quality of care demands the urgent attention of a new Justice Secretary, and the Chief Inspector is right to insist upon that. He helpfully points to the core issue – a need to address the causes of violence and escape the cycle of reacting endlessly to it.”

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Prisons need to promote personal growth as an end in itself, not just a means to reduced reoffending, according to a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust today (9 July 2019).

The report, ‘What do you need to make best use of your time in prison?’ is the result of an extensive consultation exercise with over 1,250 people with experience of prison.

The report is the second of the Prison Reform Trust’s Prisoner Policy Network—a group of current serving prisoners, ex-prisoners and connected organisations who want to share their expertise and experience with policy makers.

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Picture credit: Erika Flowers

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PRT comment: HMP Brixton

02/07/2019 00:01:00

Commenting on today's inspection report on conditions at HMP Brixton, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“There is much to praise in what has been achieved at Brixton by the Governor, staff and prisoners working together. But filling almost a third of the prison with men convicted of sexual offences was an expedient measure that did not have the best interest of those men at its heart. As intended, it will have contributed more than this report acknowledges to reductions in drug use and violence.

“The bottom line is that, like many other inner city prisons, Brixton risks being a resettlement prison in name only. A third of prisoners are being released with nowhere to live, and no-one is allowed out of the prison to work, learn, find a job or a home. Release on temporary licence is an essential tool for successful resettlement—keeping that tool locked away in the box is scarcely a matter for congratulation.”

Photo credit: David Anstiss / Wall of H.M. Prison Brixton / CC BY-SA 2.0

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There were more than 140,000 admissions into prison in England and Wales in 2017—the highest number in western Europe, according to a new report published today (24 June 2019) by the Prison Reform Trust.

The report Prison: the facts, reveals that, despite the number falling in recent years, England and Wales still have over 40,000 more admissions to prison than Germany, the second-highest—which has a significantly larger national population.

The rate of prison admissions, which accounts for the effects of differences in national populations, shows that England and Wales have a rate approximately three times that of Italy and Spain, and almost twice as high as Germany, with 238 prison admissions for every 100,000 people.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the latest Ministry of Justice Safety in Custody Statistics published today (25 April), Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“These numbers show that there is a very long way to go before our prison system is safe for the people who live and work in it. The rise in self-inflicted deaths is especially concerning.

“Everyone will hope that the modest improvement in both self-harm and assault figures in the most recent quarter may be the start of a trend, although it is far too early to say. But it would be a mistake, when a change may have started to happen, to put that at risk. Rolling out the deployment of PAVA spray to all prison officers will undermine the relationships between staff and prisoners on which all aspects of safety ultimately depend.”

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on the Ministry of Justice’s safety in custody statistics, published today, Mark Day, Head of Policy and Communications at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“These disturbing figures show every indicator of prison safety to be pointing the wrong way, with a rise in numbers of natural and self-inflicted deaths and record levels of self-harm and assaults. The measures the government have put in place to improve prison safety, including increasing staff numbers and the roll out of a new key worker model, have not yet succeeded in reversing this rising trend. Plans to roll out PAVA spray to all prison staff on the closed adult male estate risk making a volatile situation even worse.”

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