Commenting on the publication of today's Ministry of Justice Safety in Custody statistics, Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust said:
"Today’s figures reveal a hidden emergency unfolding in our prison system. For the past few years, government statistics have recorded month on month record levels of violence, self harm and self inflicted deaths. This cannot be allowed to become the new normal. The government’s forthcoming prison safety and reform plan must get to grips with a dangerously deteriorating situation. The lives of people who live and work in prison depend on it."
Click here for a summary of the report's findings.
Local authorities have a crucial role to play in helping women get the support they need to stay out of trouble, according to a joint report by the Prison Reform Trust, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Centre for Mental Health, and the Education Policy Institute.
Local councils know and understand their communities. Their leadership can provide strategic oversight, and collaboration and coordination with other agencies to deliver necessary support to women in contact with, or on the edges of the criminal justice system. Existing partnerships bring together local organisations that have the means of transforming the lives of women and their families. This approach has the potential to make financial savings for local councils and improve outcomes for women and the wider community.
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Today (26 October) the House of Commons Justice Committee published its report on the treatment of young adults in the criminal justice system. The committee agreed that there is a strong case for a distinct approach to this group, one which takes account of levels of maturity and brain development at all stages of the criminal justice system, from arrest through to sentencing, community and custodial provision and resettlement.
The Prison Reform Trust is a member of the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance. You can read PRT’s submission to the committee's inquiry by clicking here.
Commenting on the report, Alex Hewson, policy and communications officer at the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“A justice system which throws young people off a cliff edge on their 18th birthday, and expects them to fend for themselves in the adult system when they are still maturing and often vulnerable, is not one that is set up to deliver for offenders, victims or local communities. This report from the cross-party justice committee offers a clear endorsement of the importance of taking account of maturity at all stages of the criminal justice system and a comprehensive blueprint for reform.”
Ahead of tomorrow's (18 October) House of Lords debate on the Children and Social Work Bill, the Prison Reform Trust has produced a short briefing for Peers outlining the key areas of the bill and tabled amendments.
You can read a copy of the briefing by clicking here.
This month has seen a welcome focus on the performance of resettlement and supervision services for people in the community, following one of the biggest shakeups of probation in its history.
The Public Accounts Committee published the findings of their inquiry; the Criminal Justice Joint Inspection published their report into resettlement support for short sentenced prisoners; and BBC Radio 4's File on 4 heard from families who have lost loved ones and have struggled to find answers; staff who are concerned that the service has been split in two, and Joy Doal at Anawim women's centre in Birmingham raised concerns that many vulnerable women were being recalled to prison for breaching probation orders, following short sentences for minor offences.
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From 2010-2015, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) has funded Travelling Fellowships with a particular focus on prison reform across the world. The Fellowships are the result of an innovative partnership between WCMT and the Prison Reform Trust.
This briefing overview published today, authored by Jessica Jacobson and Helen Fair of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, highlights some of the learning from these Fellowships. This summary of what Fellows saw on their visits, and subsequent more detailed briefings, are being produced to inform the government’s prison reform agenda.
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Commenting on today's report by HM Inspectorate of Probation, Jenny Earle, Director of the Prison Reform Trust’s programme for reducing women’s imprisonment, said:
"Inspectors have confirmed what many have suspected—that tackling offending by women remains an afterthought in spite of a statutory duty on rehabilitation services to take account of their specific needs. Many of these women are mothers and their offending is often driven by addictions and past victimisation. The government already know the solutions, yet chronically under-invests in the services—including women centres, mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment and safe accommodation—that would help women to turn their lives around."
Commenting on today's report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee into Transforming Rehabilitation, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
"No one should be surprised that a rehabilitation revolution is struggling to get off the ground in our overcrowded, unsafe local prisons.
Transforming Rehabilitation was always a complicated way to solve the problem of high re-offending rates by short-term prisoners. The best solution remains to punish these people in the community."
This afternoon (15 September) the House of Commons will debate the Justice Committee's report into prison safety.
Ahead of the debate the Prison Reform Trust has published a briefing for MPs and interested parties. The briefing highlights the shocking state of safety within our prisons and poses a number of questions and solutions for the government to restore decency and order.
Click here to download the briefing and click here to watch the debate from 1:30pm.