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Following correspondence with the chair of the independent review, Sir Simon Wessely, the Prison Reform Trust, Centre for Mental Health, and Together for Mental Wellbeing convened a meeting to provide a ‘criminal justice’ response to the review’s initial consultation. The meeting was chaired by Lord Bradley, and our response can be read by clicking here

In a follow up discussion with Sir Simon, we have agreed to convene a further meeting that will focus on people with a learning disability and/or autism in the criminal justice system, which will be held in April. 

Further information about the independent review can be found by clicking here.

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The government's consultation on domestic abuse, launched today, includes a welcome committment to £2 million of dedicated support for female offenders. Research collated by the Prison Reform Trust shows that 57% of women in prison report having been victims of domestic violence as adults. This is likely to be an underestimate.

Commenting, Jenny Earle, Director of PRT's programme to reduce women's imprisonment, said:

“We welcome the government’s recognition that coercive relationships can be a major driver to offending by women. It is time for concerted action to help women break the cycle of victimisation and offending that blights too many lives. The police, prosecutors, courts, probation services and the judiciary must work closely with women’s services to achieve the government’s aims of better outcomes for women and their families, and to reduce offending. The proposed Domestic Abuse Commissioner can play a key role in achieving a joined up approach to women who have been victims of much more serious offences than those for which they are commonly imprisoned.”


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Khulisa, a small, innovative charity which exists to improve the wellbeing of the most socially excluded people in society, has won the 2018 Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Re-integration for its work at HMP Forest Bank in Manchester.

The highly commended prize was awarded to Tempus Novo for its work getting prisoners into sustainable employment on release from prisons in Yorkshire. Commendations were awarded to Spark Inside for its coaching programme for prisoners at HMP Belmarsh; and to Anawim for the in-reach and through the gate services it provides to women at HMP/YOI Foston Hall.

Click 'read more' to find out more about this year's prize winning projects and the organisations working to turn help people successfully reintegrate into society.

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Commenting on the speech made this morning by the Justice Secretary Rt Hon David Gauke MP on prison reform, Peter Dawson , director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"The Justice Secretary set out an ambitious programme of reform for our prisons. But his predecessor promised to save £400m in the coming year. David Gauke's refusal to rule out further cuts in prisons raises serious doubts as to whether any of it is deliverable. Reducing reoffending, while a welcome ambition, will not make any significant dent in the size of the prison population. It is only by stemming the flow of people into prison and reversing sentence inflation that the government can begin to reduce chronic levels of overcrowding and get a grip on declining standards of safety and purposeful activity in our prisons. Anything else is wishful thinking."

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In November 2016, the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) reported that more women than ever before in England and Wales were being recalled to prison following their release. Since that time, the number of women recalled to prison has continued to rise, and is now more than double the number it was before these reforms were introduced.

Why has the use of recall for women continued to increase when they are far less likely to commit serious offences, and why is the trend not slowing down as it has done for men?

Dr Thomas Guiney, Senior Programme Officer for the Prison Reform Trust's programme to reduce women's imprisonment takes a look.

Click 'read more' for the full story

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Late last year, the Prison Reform Trust’s advice and information service received a number of enquiries from people held in private prisons, regarding the cost of electronically transferring money into their prison account from families outside. Public sector prisons have also recently introduced such a service, however, unlike in private prisons this service is provided at no cost to either the sender or recipient. In response, we approached Unilink, the provider of the Secure Payment Service, to discuss how the situation might be able to be improved for those held in private prisons.

Click 'read more' for the full story

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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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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:
 
"A new ministerial team must get to grips with an epidemic of violence behind bars which shows no sign of abating. Despite a small but welcome fall in deaths in the latest figures, every other indicator points to the ongoing and longstanding deterioration in standards of safety in prisons. Back to basics on prison reform cannot just mean fixing broken windows and cleaning dirty and infested accommodation, necessary though this is. It must also include a concerted and sustained effort to take the pressure off overstretched prisons by reducing prison numbers to a sustainable level."

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PRT comment: HMP Liverpool

19/01/2018 00:01:00

Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Liverpool, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
 
“We should all be ashamed that people are treated in this way in the 21st century, whatever their crime or the charge they face. But the answer cannot be confined to a new Governor and whatever sticking plaster the ministry can afford. Liverpool is just the latest example of a prison failing both its prisoners and the public. The responsibility for the problem ultimately lies with the politicians who have inflated maximum sentences while starving the prison service of the resources it needs to cope. Those same politicians need now to take ownership of the solution, reversing sentence inflation and having the courage to end our love affair with imprisonment.

“In the short term, if we are to continue to operate Victorian prisons like Liverpool, Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville and many others, they need to be adequately resourced to deliver decent physical conditions and days spent in work and education, not behind a cell door.”

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Commenting on the decision of the Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke to issue an urgent notification in response to safety concerns at HMP Nottingham, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"When a prison is failing in its basic duty to keep prisoners safe, it is right that the chief inspector is making prompt use of the notification power given to him by the previous secretary of state. Everything now turns on the current secretary of state providing an adequate response and seeing it through."

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