News

RSS Feed

Angiolini five years on

15/06/2017 08:47:00

The Scottish Working Group on Women Offenders is holding an event at the Scottish Parliament today, Thursday 15 June, to review progress five years on from the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini’s report of the Commission on Women Offenders.   Professor Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive of Families Outside, is presenting and will talk about the Transforming Lives programme’s work to reduce women’s imprisonment in Scotland.

Read more


There should be a step change in the availability of release on temporary licence (ROTL) out of prisons to give more businesses the opportunity to employ prisoners in the community as part of preparation for their release, according to a new report published today (2 June) by the Prison Reform Trust.
 
The report, which details the findings of a two-year action learning project Out for Good based in HMP Brixton in south London, says there is "huge potential" to get more prisoners into jobs and training. It found a substantial number of employers both open to employing ex-offenders and willing to work with prisons to achieve this.

Against expectations, the report found it was not the attitudes of employers but national prison policy and practice which was the main barrier preventing opportunities for work and training from being seized.

Click 'read more' for the full story.

Read more


Figures released today (Monday 8 May) by the Prison Reform Trust to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (8–14 May) reveal that our overcrowded and overstretched prisons are struggling to meet the needs of the high numbers of people in their care with a mental health need or learning disability. 

Rising levels of self-inflicted deaths and record numbers of self-harm incidents point to the urgent need for the next government, whatever its political complexion, to address the decline in safety and standards in our prisons and to increase support in the justice system for vulnerable defendants.

Click 'read more' for the full story.

Read more


HMP Eastwood Park WI

02/05/2017 13:00:00

Jenny Earle, Director of Prison Reform Trust's Reducing Women's Imprisonment programme, joined Countess Sara Bathurst, the former High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour to talk about the Women's Institute opening up a branch in HMP Eastwood Park, and how this can provide a support network for the women to help reintegrate back into their community on release. 

The WI branch currently has 35 members and is called 'Lady B's Butterflies' in honour of the Countess being one of the founders.  Listen to the interview again by clicking here.

Read more


Commenting on the Ministry of Justice's safety in custody statistics published today, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"The message from these deeply alarming numbers could not be any clearer. An overcrowded prison system cannot cope with the number of people it is expected to hold. People are being maimed and dying in unprecedented numbers as a direct consequence. Two years of positive rhetoric from the government about prison reform has done nothing to stop a relentless decline in safety. There is no end in sight, and a new government must make a reduction in imprisonment a top priority."

The Ministry of Justice's safety in custody statistics (quarterly update to December 2016) are available here.

Read more


It was confirmed today that following the decision to hold a general election on 8 June the Prisons and Courts Bill will not progress any further in this Parliament.

Commenting, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

"The prisons and courts bill, while far from perfect, had achieved cross-party support and contained some valuable measures to make prisons fit for the 21st century. With levels of safety, decency and fairness continuing to slide, the fall of the bill as a result of the election must not derail the vital job of prison reform. The next government, whatever its political complexion, should reintroduce a prisons bill as a top priority."

Click here to read about the Prison Reform Trust's work on the bill up to this point.

Read more


Commenting on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture's report on UK prisons, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"This is a devastating international indictment of how low our prison system has sunk. This independent, expert committee exists to prevent mistreatment in prisons across Europe. It should be a matter of national shame that they found that every prison they visited in this country was unsafe for both staff and prisoners. They specifically found that some children were being held in conditions that were inhuman and degrading

"The committee is equally clear that endemic overcrowding lies behind this appalling failure. Its report makes plain that the government's stated commitment to reform will come to nothing without determined and prompt action to reduce prison numbers.
 
"There have been times in our history when the way we ran our prisons was held up as a model for other countries to follow. Now we are falling short of the most basic international expectations. Whatever the outcome of the general election, a new government needs to restore some pride in the way we treat the people we choose to punish."

Click 'read more' for the full story.

Read more


PRT comment: HMP Guys Marsh

11/04/2017 09:30:00

Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on Guys Marsh, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
 
“Yet another inspection shows the damage done to our prisons by irresponsible cost cutting, and a few more staff won’t make the difference on their own. The solution must involve restoring hope for those prisoners who want to make constructive use of their time inside. That should include spending time working in the community as preparation for release. But incredibly, only one prisoner in Guys Marsh was out on temporary licence at the time of the inspection. It is time ministers were held to account for the part their government has played in reducing prisons like Guys Marsh to the state they’re in—and for the policy changes they need to approve to help them recover.”

Read more


Only one in 100 prisoners who made an allegation of discrimination against prison staff had their case upheld by the prison. By contrast, three in four staff (76%) reports of alleged discrimination by a prisoner were upheld, an in-depth research report by the Zahid Mubarek Trust and the Prison Reform Trust reveals.

The report finds that the system for handling discrimination complaints in prisons is neither fair nor impartial, does not have the confidence of prisoners, and is failing to provide prisons with the opportunity to learn and provide more equitable treatment. As prisons struggle to cope with increasing violence and fewer officers, equality has slipped down the priority list.

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more


The Prison Reform Trust has published a briefing ahead of the House of Commons Committee Stage to assist Parliamentarians in their detailed scrutiny of the bill, which also outlines key amendments which we support. You can read the briefing by clicking here.

The House of Commons second reading debate took place on Monday 20 March, and the Prison Reform Trust also produced a briefing, which you can download by clicking here. You can also catch up on the second reading debate by clicking here to watch, or clicking here to read.

Commenting, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"It is 65 years since it last happened, so the publication of a Prisons Bill is obviously an important moment. There is plenty to welcome—especially a statutory commitment to rehabilitation. But the Bill is also notable for what it does not contain—for example, nothing to control the demand for prison and no mention of decency or justice as the foundations of a rehabilitative system. 

"We will do everything we can to help parliament turn this bill into a genuinely reforming Act, making sure that: the purposes of prison are comprehensive; a mechanism exists to translate those purposes into standards approved by parliament and in line with our international obligations; and the institutions that hold the Secretary of State to account are properly independent of her and her department."

Read more