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Older people released from prison are being set up to fail by a lack of adequate provision to meet their health and social care needs, according to a report published today by the Prison Reform Trust and Restore Support Network.

Limited and inconsistent support to help sort out housing, employment, personal finances and debt, drug and alcohol dependence, and re-establish family relationships is also undermining the effective resettlement of older prisoners and increases the risk of future offending.

The report, Social care or systematic neglect?, calls for the creation of a cross-government national strategy for meeting the health, social and rehabilitative needs of older people in prison and on release in the community.

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Much greater clarity and transparency are needed in the prosecution of “joint enterprise” cases, a research report by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) of Birkbeck, University of London, in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust, has found.

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, aimed to find out how the doctrine was used in the prosecution of serious offences. 

Based on a detailed analysis of the sampled cases, the report says that there is an “urgent need” for greater clarity in the prosecution of joint enterprise cases.

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People serving an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) have one of the highest rates of self-harm in the prison system according to a new report published today (23 June) by the Prison Reform Trust.

Figures show that for every 1,000 people serving an IPP there were 550 incidents of self-harm. This compares with 324 incidents for people serving a determinate sentence, and is more than twice the rate for people serving life sentences. 

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Trustees of the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) are delighted to announce the appointment of its new director, Peter Dawson. Peter is currently deputy director of PRT and is only the third director to be appointed in the history of the organisation.

Peter has spent the majority of his career in government and the prison service. He was Governor of HMP Downview and HMP High Down between 2005 and 2012. Before joining PRT in 2015, Peter also worked in the private sector for Sodexo Justice Services.

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Today the Prison Reform Trust publishes a proposal for the establishment of a women’s centre on the site of the existing visitors centre at HMP Holloway, which is due to close later this month.

On the 1 December 2015, Juliet Lyon wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice following his announcement of the closure of Holloway with a challenging proposal to work with strategic partners including MOPAC, Islington London Borough Council, NHS London, the Metropolitan Police, London Community Rehabilitation Company and women’s voluntary organisations to retain the HMP Holloway visitors centre (a purpose built space refurbished by the Tudor Trust) as a women’s centre.

To date the proposal has attracted both cross-party and pan-London support. In his response to PRT on the 16 December 2015, Secretary of State Michael Gove set out his commitment to reduce the women’s prison population and confirmed at a Justice Committee meeting on the 16 March 2016 that the proposal was ‘a good idea’ and was under consideration by the Ministry of Justice.

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Tackling the legacy of the IPP

30/05/2016 17:36:00

This morning BBC Radio 4's Today programme examined the enduring legacy of the Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection. Nearly four years since its abolition, there are still over 4,000 people in prison serving this discredited sentence, unsure when or if they will ever be released. Four out of every five are still stuck behind bars despite having served their minimum term, no longer in prison for what they have done, but for what they might do.

The programme profiled case of James Ward, who in 2006 was given an IPP sentence with a ten month tariff, the time he must spend in prison. Ten years later he is still in prison and has no release date. You can listen to James' story by clicking here.

Prison Reform Trust director, Juliet Lyon, appeared on BBC Radio 4 to press for a case by case review for people stuck in prison on the IPP, unsure of when they will be released. Click here to listen to the interview on BBC Radio 4, and click here to listen to her interview on BBC 5 Live.

Today's welcome intervention by Ken Clarke, who abolished the sentence whilst justice secretary in 2012, and the admission by former Home Secretary David Blunkett that he regrets the injustices of the sentence, place further pressure on the government to address this injustice and outline a clear plan to confine the IPP to the history books once and for all.

Following correspondence and a meeting with the Justice Secretary, PRT noted that Michael Gove was considering how best to tackle the terrible legacy of this discredited sentence.

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Up to half of all children in custody have been in care at some point. This is a tragic waste of young lives which must be addressed if all children in care are to get the best start in life, an independent review chaired by the crossbench peer Lord Laming has said.

The review, established by the Prison Reform Trust, calls for a coherent programme of reform, led from the very top of government, to help improve the life chances of looked after children and prevent future crime.

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Queen’s speech: Prisons Bill

18/05/2016 12:50:00

Commenting on today’s announcement of a Prisons Bill in the Queen’s Speech, Juliet Lyon director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“It's good that prison reform is at the top of the government’s agenda—for far too long prisons have been our most neglected, least visible public service. The most pressing priority is to restore prison safety and stem the catastrophic rise in suicides, violence and disorder.

More freedom for governors, long overdue access to modern IT, sensible plans for release on temporary licence and constructive use of tagging to curtail liberty should all be part of a modern justice system. 

But reform will run into the sand unless government is prepared to tackle prison numbers and introduce major sentencing reform as part of its groundbreaking Prisons Bill."

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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.”

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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.

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