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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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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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."
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.”
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.
In his budget George Osborne announce a potential devolution of criminal justice commissioning to Greater Manchester. In this article published in the Justice Gap Peter Dawson, PRT’s deputy director, examines what this might entail and what consequences such a move would have for the criminal justice system generally.
The Prison Reform Trust has long called for a reduction in women’s imprisonment in the UK and a step change in how the criminal justice system responds to the needs of women and the drivers to their offending. Following the announcement that HMP Holloway, the largest women's prison in Europe, is to close, director of the Prison Reform Trust, Juliet Lyon, joined Baroness Corston on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour to discuss how much progress has been made in reforming women's justice. Presenter, Jane Garvey visited HMP Styal and Stockport Women's Centre to hear first hand from women there. You can listen to the show by clicking here.
To mark International Women's Day (8 March) we brought together some of the latest developments in our Transforming Lives programme. Find out about our new women's justice site, our latest briefings and blogs and hear our director Juliet Lyon at the Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival.
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London-based charity Switchback has won the Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2016. This innovative charity, which was nominated for its work at HMP/YOI Isis in Thamesmead, uses catering, combined with intensive mentoring, as a way to help prisoners into training and employment on release. The charity has worked with professional chefs including the campaigner, food writer, broadcaster, and Switchback Partner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Commenting, Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “We love our work with Switchback. It’s a fantastic organisation that gives people an amazing chance.”
The second prize was awarded to St Giles Trust for their work at HMP Huntercombe to help foreign nationals held in prison with support and advice to prepare them for their release and reduce their risk of future offending.
The awards, kindly supported by the Worshipful Company of Weavers, will be presented to the winners by Lady Corbett at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group in the Houses of Parliament today [Tuesday 23 February 2016]. The award was established in 2012 in memory of the former chair of the All Party Group Lord Corbett.
The award received coverage in the Daily Mirror, which you can read by clicking here.
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