RSS Feed

Commenting on today’s announcement (4 April) that some prisoners are to be temporarily released as part of efforts to tackle Covid-19, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This is a welcome and substantial step in the right direction. Exceptional times require exceptional measures, and the public should be reassured that in this instance their protection is better served by carefully releasing some prisoners a few weeks early than by keeping them in. Prisons have never faced an emergency of this complexity or duration, and further measures will be needed in the weeks ahead. But this is a start, and the Lord Chancellor deserves credit for it.”

Read more


The two leading prison reform groups in the country have called on the government to take further action to reduce the prison population in order to protect prisoners, staff and the wider public from coronavirus.

In an open letter, the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust have warned the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, that failure to act immediately could lead to loss of life on an unprecedented scale.

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more


In the light of government guidance and the current situation generally, PRT is running a reduced service for the time being.

If you know of someone in prison in need of advice and information then click here for details on how they can get in contact with us.

Media inquiries during office hours should be directed to alex.hewson@prisonreformtrust.org.uk. Out of hours media inquiries should be made by phone to 0207 689 7746 or 0207 689 7732.

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more


Commenting on the announcement by the Justice Secretary that the government is considering the early release of some prisoners in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“The risks of infection for people who live and work in prisons are acute, as the Justice Secretary has said. So while it is obviously right that the way of life in prisons should change dramatically, just as it has in the wider community, Robert Buckland is right to be considering forms of early release. In a chronically overcrowded system, this will help keep people safe by reducing the pressure on both space and staff resources. For this to work, there will need to be support to organisations, many of them charities, that help prisoners on release. And it’s vital that while creating some headroom through releases, the flow of people into prisons is also drastically reduced. That means not sending anyone to prison for all but the most serious alleged or proved offending, and not recalling people to prison in all but the most dangerous of circumstances.

There is no time to waste—just as in the community at large, suppressing the spread of the virus in prisons means taking decisive action sooner rather than later.”

Read more


Commenting on the government’s decision to suspend social visits and increase the provision of phones in prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“The suspension of social visits was always likely to be necessary for the safety of prisoners and visitors alike. The provision of more phones for prisoners to stay in contact with families is a welcome step in the right direction. As the situation develops, prisons will need to be alert to other opportunities to preserve the relationships on which all of us are relying in these difficult times.”

Read more


HM Prison Service has announced that prisons in England and Wales are temporarily closed to visitors following government instructions for people to stay at home.

Read the full guidance and how you can keep in touch with loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic by clicking here.

Read more


Our work and response to Covid-19

17/03/2020 13:00:00

Like all organisations and individuals the Prison Reform Trust has been closely monitoring the developments and government advice following the Covid-19 outbreak. The safety of those who live and work in our prisons and that of PRT staff is our priority. In light of the latest government advice we are taking measures to uphold our collective safety, whilst continuing to deliver vital services to those in prison.

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more


The reintroduction today of the Domestic Abuse Bill presents an opportunity to strengthen legal protection for those whose offending is driven by their experience of domestic abuse. This would address a gap in legal protection for survivors, strengthen recognition of the links between victimisation and offending and deter inappropriate prosecutions.

Commenting, Katy Swaine Williams, Senior Programme Manager at the Prison Reform Trust said:

"The majority of women in prison are survivors of domestic abuse and many have been driven to offend as a direct result of that abuse. This landmark Bill presents an opportunity to protect survivors of abuse from prosecution where they have been driven to offend. With support from legal and domestic abuse experts, including the Victims' Commissioner, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and the Criminal Bar Association, we will be making the case for this essential legal protection to be added to the Bill."

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more


This week the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody held its Keeping Safe Conference conference in London. Speaking at the event, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, highlighted the importance of family members and loved ones being able to share urgent safeguarding concerns they might have for someone currently in prison.

Following the recent publication of our joint report, Keeping People Safe in Prison, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust and Andy Keen-Downs, Chief Executive of Pact (the Prison Advice and Care Trust) have issued a joint response to Robert Buckland's remarks.

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more


Penal Reform International (PRI), in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust (PRT), has published a guide for prison and probation staff to help them understand how prison life can affect a person’s mental health, with a focus on women. The guide aims to break down the stigma and discrimination attached to poor mental health, especially for women in prison.

Click 'read more' for the full story

Read more