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PRT comment: HMP Grendon

14/09/2017 00:01:00

Commenting on today's positive inspection report on HMP Grendon, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
 
“This excellent report shows what a stable prison with adequate resources, consistent focus and leadership can achieve. Reserving prison for only those people who really need to be there would give other prisons the breathing space to perform equally well. The answer to our prisons crisis lies in reducing demand and the new justice secretary seems to have understood that. What is needed is a plan to make it happen.”

Image credit: Steve Daniels (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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PRT comment: Lammy Review

08/09/2017 00:01:00

Commenting on David Lammy's independent review into the treatment and outcomes for black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system, published today (8 September), director of the Prison Reform Trust, Peter Dawson said:

“This is a seminal report. It shows through dispassionate factual analysis our criminal justice system still discriminates when it comes to ethnicity.  But it also shows that the solutions lie in accountable, fair practice which every part of the system could achieve, and which would benefit every person caught up in the system, regardless of their race or background.
 
“On her first day in office, the Prime Minister highlighted systemic disadvantage as a priority. David Lammy has delivered an unanswerable case for change with a practical set of recommendations to achieve it. The government has an opportunity to right a deep seated wrong at the heart of our justice system. The time for analysis is past—the time to act is now"

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Commenting on today's (5 September) announcement that the Scottish Government will introduce a presumption against the use of custodial sentences of less than 12 months, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
 
“There is much for England and Wales to learn from the progressive approach to punishment outlined today by Nicola Sturgeon. In particular, extending the presumption against short prison sentences from 3 to 12 months is a sensible way of reserving prison for those that really need it. In 2016 there were over 38,000 prison sentences of under 12 months in England and Wales, served in dangerous conditions and with the highest likelihood of the person reoffending on release. What a difference a similar presumption in England and Wales could make – safer communities and safer prisons.”

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Black and mixed ethnicity women are more than twice as likely as white women in the general population to be arrested, according to a new report published today (31 August) by the Prison Reform Trust.

Black women are also more likely than other women to be remanded or sentenced to custody, and are 25% more likely than white women to receive a custodial sentence following a conviction, the report reveals. Black, Asian and minority ethnic women make up 11.9% of the women’s population in England and Wales, but account for 18% of the women’s prison population.

This report, Counted Out, is timely and has been submitted to the Lammy review ahead of its launch in September, to highlight the overlooked inequalities experienced by many Black, Asian and minority ethnic women in the criminal justice system.

Click 'read more' for the full story.

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Nominations are invited from prison governors, directors and senior managers for the 2018 Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Re-integration (formerly Rehabilitation). The closing date is 1 December 2018.

The award, kindly supported by the Chrysalis Programme and the Worshipful Company of Weavers, is for outstanding rehabilitative work with prisoners done by a charity or community group. It champions work that fosters personal responsibility. Robin Corbett had a long-held interest in prisoners' education and people in prison 'learning through doing'.

Click 'read more' to find out more and for details on the application process.

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Commenting on HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMYOI Aylesbury published today (Thursday 17 August), Mark Day, Head of Policy and Communications at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Young adults are among the most vulnerable, troubled individuals in custody, and yet this report into the Justice Secretary David Lidington's local constituency prison shows that their needs are being neglected at every stage. It is particularly concerning that little progress has been made since the last inspection in 2015, and in some areas the prison has deteriorated further. The Justice Secretary this week committed to improving the accountability of prisons for responding to inspectorate recommendations. This cannot come soon enough, and must be matched by a commitment to ensure vulnerable young adults in the justice system get the distinct and tailored support they need."

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The Prison Reform Trust’s Head of Policy and Communications, Mark Day, yesterday took part in a discussion on the BBC Two Victoria Derbyshire programme on the damaging legacy of the Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP). The BBC’s story, which was also covered by the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, considered the case of James Ward, who in 2006 was given an IPP sentence with a 10-month tariff, but who 11 years later remains in custody. Commenting on the Today programme, the Chair of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, urged the government to “get a grip” on the issue by bringing forward measures to expedite the release of the remaining post-tariff IPP prisoners.

You can watch the feature on the Victoria Derbyshire programme here [starts 16.10]

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PRT comment: Farmer review

10/08/2017 00:01:00

Commenting on Lord Farmer's review on strengthening family ties in prison, Mark Day, Head of Policy and Communications at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"This in-depth report rightly recognises the vital importance of family ties to improving the mental health and wellbeing of people in prison and reducing their risk of reoffending on release. Lord Farmer has produced concise recommendations to put families at the heart of safe and constructive prison regimes. Particularly welcome is the proposal that each prison should have a clear, auditable and responsive 'gateway' communication system for families and significant others, so that concerns family members or others may have about the physical or mental health of a loved one in prison can be properly recorded and action taken. We hope this and the other sensible recommendations put forward in the report will be adopted and put swiftly into practice."

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Following the riot at HMP The Mount this week, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust has written in the Huffington Post. A full copy of his blog is reproduced here.

Another day, another prison riot. This time it’s at The Mount, a perfectly ordinary 30-year-old prison on the outskirts of London—not some Victorian hell hole waiting for the bulldozers to move in. And this the week after another set of statistics showing accelerating violence, self-harm and death in our prison system. The coruscating annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons feels like a distant memory only three weeks after it was headline news.

So does the riot at The Mount tell us anything we don’t already know, and might just be bored of being told?

Click 'read more' for the full story.

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Commenting on today's (27 July) publication of safety in custody statistics by the Ministry of Justice, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“These numbers confirm what the Chief Inspector of Prisons has described in graphic detail—that our prison system is nowhere near being safe for those who live and work within it. The appalling loss of life and toll of despair requires something more immediate than the promise of more staff and new prisons. In the short term, the provision of much cheaper and easier access to a legitimate phone system would make a day to day difference—and provide some consolation to the families of prisoners wondering if their loved ones are safe inside.”

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