Conditions

Recognising achievement

06/01/2017 12:00:00

With our prisons and the people in them under severe strain, it is easy to lose sight of some of the remarkable work going on in spite of these challenging circumstances.

This year's New Year's Honours include recognition for a number of people for their commitment to helping people in prison, including Clive Martin, Roma Hooper, Sue McAllister and Lynn Saunders.  We'd like to extend our congratulations to them all.

HMP Whatton, the prison that Lynn Saunders governs, also received recognition last week from HM Inspectorate of Prisons for its positive work to reduce the risks posed by higher risk prisoners.

Click 'read more' for our response to the inspectorate's report.

Photo: dconvertini under creative commons

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Christmas in prison

23/12/2016 00:01:00

"Christmas day in prison. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. For over 10 years I spent every Christmas morning in prison and the only conclusion I reached was that every individual has to find their own way through a difficult season."

Read PRT Director, Peter Dawson's reflections on spending Christmas in prison by clicking 'read more'.

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The 30 most overcrowded prisons in England and Wales are twice as likely to be rated as failing by the prison service compared with prisons overall, a new analysis published with the latest annual edition of the Prison Reform Trust’s Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, kindly supported by the Bromley Trust, reveals.
 
The new analysis of Ministry of Justice prison population and prison performance ratings by the Prison Reform Trust suggests that overcrowding is undermining the resilience of establishments and their ability to maintain safety and decency in the face of steep cuts to staffing and resources. 

Click 'read more' for the full story

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PRT comment: HMP Hindley

29/11/2016 00:01:00

Commenting on today's report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
 
"We are used to dreadful inspection reports about dilapidated, overcrowded Victorian prisons. HMP Hindley is none of these things, and this damning verdict is all the more troubling as a result. It shows that a lack of decency will undermine a prison, regardless of its physical condition and facilities. The Chief Inspector is right to make this a test of the government's ability to respond swiftly and effectively when a prison is failing."

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Ahead of today's government announcement on prison reform, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: 

“The time for aspirational rhetoric on prisons is over. We expect a White Paper that promises concrete standards, approved by Parliament, against which the Government must deliver, and a boost in resources to make that possible. All of that will be welcome. But the legacy is twenty five years of political failure to grip prison inflation and chronic overcrowding. Liz Truss will have to overturn that inheritance, and urgently reduce the demand for prison places, to make her plan work.”

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From 2010-2015, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) has 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. 

This briefing overview published today, authored by Jessica Jacobson and Helen Fair of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, highlights some of the learning from these Fellowships. This summary of what Fellows saw on their visits, and subsequent more detailed briefings, are being produced to inform the government’s prison reform agenda.

Click 'read more' for the full story

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Debate on prison safety

15/09/2016 11:47:00

This afternoon (15 September) the House of Commons will debate the Justice Committee's report into prison safety.

Ahead of the debate the Prison Reform Trust has published a briefing for MPs and interested parties. The briefing highlights the shocking state of safety within our prisons and poses a number of questions and solutions for the government to restore decency and order.

Click here to download the briefing and click here to watch the debate from 1:30pm.

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Commenting on the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman's annual report published today, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Reducing deaths used to be one of the success stories in our prisons. No longer. The situation has got dramatically worse and there are few signs of hope. Every part of the solution requires more time for staff—to build relationships, to train, to get the basics right. That means more staff or fewer prisoners—nothing less will do."

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PRT comment: HMP Chelmsford

16/08/2016 00:01:00

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

“This depressingly familiar report contains some important lessons for prison reform.  A prison built for 550 people holds 150 people more than it should, which is roughly the number the inspectors find locked behind their door. Accommodation that is modern and fit for purpose produces better results than when it’s nearly 200 years old. Too many prisoners housed in overcrowded, outdated establishments equals the failing system we currently have. Fewer prisoners and sensible investment equals a large part of the solution.”

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Commenting, incoming director of the Prison Reform Trust, Peter Dawson said:

"This report shows the justice secretary where she must begin on prison reform. Making prisons safe for everyone who lives and works in them is the absolute priority and the necessary bedrock for longer term change. She must urgently solve the mismatch between the demand on the prison service and the resources available to meet it. Realistically, that means reducing the number of prisoners so that prisons can return to being places where staff and prisoners can rebuild the relationships on which security, safety and rehabilitation all depend."

Download a copy of the full report by clicking here.

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