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Ambulance call outs to prison

09/01/2017 12:40:00

Yesterday (8 January) Director of the Prison Reform Trust, Peter Dawson took part in BBC Radio 5 Live investigates. Figures show that the number of ambulance call-outs to prisons in England has increased by nearly 40 per cent in the last three years—with an ambulance being called on average every 45 minutes.

Peter highlighted the intense pressures that prisons and people in them are facing, with the effects of an overcrowded and under resourced system now plain to see. High levels of overcrowding, coupled with a reduction in operational staff numbers have brought about a rapid decline in standards of safety and decency within our prisons. With levels of assaults, self-harm and deaths at record highs, as highlighted in our most recent Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile.

You can listen again to the show by clicking here.

Photo: Lydia under creative commons

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Recognising achievement

06/01/2017 12:00:00

With our prisons and the people in them under severe strain, it is easy to lose sight of some of the remarkable work going on in spite of these challenging circumstances.

This year's New Year's Honours include recognition for a number of people for their commitment to helping people in prison, including Clive Martin, Roma Hooper, Sue McAllister and Lynn Saunders.  We'd like to extend our congratulations to them all.

HMP Whatton, the prison that Lynn Saunders governs, also received recognition last week from HM Inspectorate of Prisons for its positive work to reduce the risks posed by higher risk prisoners.

Click 'read more' for our response to the inspectorate's report.

Photo: dconvertini under creative commons

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Christmas in prison

23/12/2016 00:01:00

"Christmas day in prison. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. For over 10 years I spent every Christmas morning in prison and the only conclusion I reached was that every individual has to find their own way through a difficult season."

Read PRT Director, Peter Dawson's reflections on spending Christmas in prison by clicking 'read more'.

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Today sees the publication of two briefings which present learning from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Prison Reform Fellowships. From 2010–2015, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust 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. 

These two briefings, authored by Jessica Jacobson and Helen Fair of the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, University of London, highlight some of the learning from these Fellowships in maintaining contact between prisoners and their families and problem-solving approaches to criminal justice

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The 30 most overcrowded prisons in England and Wales are twice as likely to be rated as failing by the prison service compared with prisons overall, a new analysis published with the latest annual edition of the Prison Reform Trust’s Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, kindly supported by the Bromley Trust, reveals.
 
The new analysis of Ministry of Justice prison population and prison performance ratings by the Prison Reform Trust suggests that overcrowding is undermining the resilience of establishments and their ability to maintain safety and decency in the face of steep cuts to staffing and resources. 

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PRT comment: HMP Hindley

29/11/2016 00:01:00

Commenting on today's report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
 
"We are used to dreadful inspection reports about dilapidated, overcrowded Victorian prisons. HMP Hindley is none of these things, and this damning verdict is all the more troubling as a result. It shows that a lack of decency will undermine a prison, regardless of its physical condition and facilities. The Chief Inspector is right to make this a test of the government's ability to respond swiftly and effectively when a prison is failing."

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PRT is delighted to announce that its former director Juliet Lyon this evening received the highly prestigious lifetime achievement award from the Longford Trust. The citation for the award reads: In a lifetime of commitment to those on the margins of society—in mental health, managing the Richmond Fellowship therapeutic communities; in education as head of a psychiatric unit school; and from 2000 until 2016 as director of the Prison Reform Trust—Juliet Lyon has always combined passion with powerful advocacy, rooted in a peerless command of her subject and hands-on experience.  A natural leader, and an innovative, irresistible campaigner, she has played a crucial role in improving the lives of many, most notably female and young offenders. She is, in the world of prison reform, a national treasure.

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The Chairman of the Parole Board, the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the former Justice Secretary Michael Gove have all separately called on the government to act to speed up the release of thousands of people serving the discredited indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP).
 
Nick Hardwick, the chairman of the Parole Board, recommended privately to both Michael Gove and the current Justice Secretary Liz Truss in July that they consider introducing legislation to convert the sentences of 634 IPP prisoners with original tariffs of less than two years into determinate sentences.
 
In his confidential advice, revealed in a freedom of information request made by the Prison Reform Trust and covered by BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Nick Hardwick expresses “real concerns” about the group of short tariff IPP prisoners who “but for their IPP would have been released many years ago”.

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The former Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove delivered the 15th Longford Lecture on Wednesday November 16th, 2016 at 6.30pm in the Assembly Hall of Church House, Great Smith Street, London. 

The lecture is organised by the Longford Trust in association with the Prison Reform Trust and is kindly sponsored by Unilink Technology Services.

Click 'read more' to read a copy of the speech.

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Commenting on the publication of an open letter today (16 November) by Rt Hon. David Lammy MP to update the Prime Minister on his review's emerging findings, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, Peter Dawson said:

"Theresa May was right to highlight in her first speech as Prime Minister that being black means harsher treatment in the criminal justice system. David Lammy's interim report to her sheds important new light on exactly where that unfairness occurs. The statistical evidence is shocking. But it also shows where the review can now concentrate its investigation to understand why discrimination happens and what needs to be done to stop it."

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