Conditions

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.

Read more


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."

Read more


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 Too many prisoners housed in overcrowded, outdated establishments equals the failing system we currently have.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.”

Read more


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.

Read more


Commenting on the Justice Committee's report Peter Dawson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: 

“The Justice Committee’s shocking report requires an urgent practical response. Recruiting and retaining staff is part of that. But we are also paying the price for our over-use of imprisonment. The Government’s prison reform package must tackle both issues if stability is to be restored.”

Read more


Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report of HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This shattering report on London’s best-known Victorian jail reveals levels of Dickensian squalor which ought to have been consigned to the history books. Inspectors found deteriorating levels of safety, poor staff/management relations, high use of force, inadequate support for people at risk of suicide and self-harm and a prison awash with drink and drugs. Most men were locked up 22 hours a day and the prison was filthy and rat-infested. These inhumane, degrading conditions have no place in a modern justice system. No prison goes downhill overnight. Putting things right is a litmus test for a government publicly committed to reform.”

You can download the report by clicking here.

photo: Chmee2 under creative commons.

Read more


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.”

Read more


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'.

Read more


On 17 December, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the revised UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners—the Nelson Mandela Rules.

Whilst not legally binding, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted sixty years ago, provide guidelines for international and domestic law for citizens held in prisons and other forms of custody; as well as providing the framework for inspection and monitoring of prisoner treatment.

Click 'read more' to read the full story.

Read more


People held in segregation in prisons experience impoverished regimes with poor levels of purposeful activity. More than half suffer from three or more mental health problems, an in-depth research report published today (17 December 2015) by the Prison Reform Trust reveals. The report finds that segregation units and close supervision centres (CSCs) entail social isolation, inactivity, and increased control of prisoners—a combination proven to harm mental health and wellbeing.

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more

first arrow previous arrow  next arrow last arrow