Inspectorate reports

PRT comment: HMP Wormwood Scrubs

09/09/2021 00:01:00

Commenting on the findings of today’s (9 September) report on conditions at HMP Wormwood Scrubs by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said: 

"Any signs of sustained improvement in a prison with as troubled a history as Wormwood Scrubs are welcome. But this report shows that while lockdown may have ended in the community, for many prisoners it continues in the most extreme form. This is about the fundamental problems that existed before the pandemic—overcrowding and inadequate resources—and the government doesn't have a plan to solve either."

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PRT comment: HMP Oakwood

03/09/2021 00:01:00

Commenting on the findings of today’s (3 September) report on conditions at HMP Oakwood by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“There are crucial lessons for the whole of the prison service from this impressive report on HMP Oakwood. As ministers consider the future shape of day to day life in prisons, they need to recognise that a successful prison is a partnership between the people who work there and the people who live there. Prisoners constantly stress the importance of showing trust—doing things with them, not to them.

"Everything that matters in prison—safety, security, decency and rehabilitation—comes from the quality of relationships between staff and prisoners. None of these things can be achieved from behind a locked cell door.”

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Commenting on the findings of today’s (20 July) Annual Report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The Chief Inspector could not put it any plainer—locking prisoners in their cells all day solves nothing. The future in our prisons must be built on a foundation of good staff building good relationships with the people in their care. That can’t be delivered in an overcrowded, under-resourced system. The government’s approach to sentencing, driven by politics not evidence, makes that fundamental problem worse, not better.”

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Commenting on the findings of today’s (15 July) Criminal Justice Joint Inspection report on neurodiversity in the criminal justice system, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This outstanding report shows conclusively that the criminal justice system is failing in its core duty to treat people with neuro-divergent conditions fairly, and that the number of individuals affected is startlingly high.

“The Lord Chancellor was clearly right to commission this work. But the real test is whether he will now provide the resource and the leadership required to follow through on the six crystal clear recommendations the report makes. “

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Commenting on the findings of today’s (16 March) thematic report on race equality by HM Inspectorate of Probation, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“Different elements of the criminal justice system have regressed in their efforts to tackle race discrimination, despite the clearest possible roadmap for change from the Lammy report, and an apparent acceptance by the government of the need to either ‘explain or reform’.  This report highlights the urgent need for a renewed focus on tackling racial disparities across criminal justice agencies. The frequent assertion that we have the finest system of justice in the world simply doesn’t match up to the reality exposed by this and other inspection findings.”

This important report confirms the conclusion reached by Beverley Thompson OBE, writing in the Prison Reform Trust’s Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, that the prison and probation service has regressed in its efforts to tackle racial disparities. Click here to read.

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Commenting on the findings of today’s (11 February) thematic report on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown in prisons by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The Chief Inspector’s report shines a light on the hidden suffering Covid-19 has caused in prisons. Saving lives has come at a huge price for prisoners and their families.

“For all the heroic efforts of prison managers and staff, we should remember that their task has been made harder by the overcrowded and dilapidated condition of our prisons before the pandemic began. It is inexplicable that ministers will shortly introduce legislation that will inflate our prison population still further, knowing what the people who live and work in prisons have had to endure over the last year.”

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Commenting on HM Inspectorate of Prisons annual report on children’s experiences in custody, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This damning report describes conditions for imprisoned children that predate the pandemic. It shows a third of children not able to shower once a day. Most of these teenagers couldn’t even play sport once a week. More than two out of every five had been bullied. And in a system where over half come from an ethnic minority, the colour of your skin led to an even worse experience across almost every aspect of daily life inside.

But despite these shameful facts, the government has published a white paper which will reverse the steady decline in the number of children we imprison, and which accepts that its proposals will have a disproportionate impact on children of colour. Parliament should refuse to countenance such an appalling prospect.”

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Commenting on the findings of today’s (20 January) thematic report on outcomes for young adult prisoners by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The government is in a complete muddle about how to deal with young people who commit serious crime. On the one hand, it is determined to sentence even more young people—disproportionately young black men—to ever longer periods in prison. But then it fails utterly to make provision which might do anything to allow them to escape the situation which their lack of maturity has created in the first place.

“This is what comes from an overcrowded, under-resourced prison system. Governments are quick to legislate for harsher punishments. But they then condemn these young people at a critical moment in their lives to a system which is dominated by the pressure of simply finding enough spaces for people to be locked up. Strategic planning for the prison estate and for what goes on inside it is repeatedly blown out of the water by political expedience.

“There is no excuse for the situation the Chief Inspector describes. Far from protecting the public through imprisonment, the government is storing up a worse problem for the future. Young and disproportionately black young people are being denied a fair chance of building a decent future and growing out of crime.”

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Commenting on the publication of today’s (18 December) joint inspection report by Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, and the Care Quality Commission, on conditions at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC), Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The new Chief Inspector of Prisons is right to be astonished that management at Rainsbrook STC did not put right the shortcomings laid bare by a highly critical inspection earlier in the year. The challenges posed by the pandemic cannot excuse the prolonged solitary confinement of children, nor the fact that this appeared to need a further inspection to be brought to light.”

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Commenting on the publication of today’s (28 October) report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons on the experiences of rehabilitation and release planning amongst minority ethnic prisoners, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This is a very thorough, scrupulously evidenced, authoritative report. It shows yet again that you get a worse deal from our criminal justice system if you’re from an ethnic minority. The inspectorate’s main finding is that people from BME groups experience discrimination, but most prison staff do not see it. As the report rightly highlights, practical solutions begin with first, acknowledging the problem; and secondly, involving the people most affected in putting it right, learning from their experience rather than dismissing it.

“The contrast between this devastatingly honest report and the government’s approach to reform couldn’t be more stark. Over and over again, the government’s equality assessments show that its proposals for criminal justice reform are likely to have discriminatory impacts—notably in the recent White Paper on sentencing. But these are always accepted as a price worth paying for some other objective. It’s hardly surprising that trust in the system amongst minority communities is so low.”

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