KeepOut, an innovative crime diversion scheme delivered by dedicated teams of serving prisoners, has won the inaugural Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2013.

This new annual award for outstanding rehabilitative work with prisoners by a small charity or community group, working in partnership with prison staff, was set up in the memory of Robin Corbett, the respected chair of the Home Affairs Committee who for ten years, until his death in February last year, chaired the All Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group, to which PRT provides the secretariat.

The emphasis of the award is on work that fosters personal responsibility and which calls on people in prison, and ex-offenders, to help themselves and others.

The award judges commended the winning entry for its unique approach to diverting young people from crime in ways that train and rehabilitate prisoners. Founded in 1996 by Mick Hart, a serving prisoner, KeepOut is currently operating in HMPs Coldingley, Send, and Lewes and is in the process of being established at HMP Brixton.

Prisoners are trained by KeepOut staff to run interactive workshops in prisons for young people who are either at risk of entering the criminal justice system or are already involved in criminal activity. Through role play, group discussions, games and exercises, the prisoners impress on the young people the importance of personal responsibility, consequences of crime and importance of victim empathy.

This pioneering approach to crime reduction provides valuable education and learning opportunities for prisoners that develops their personal and social skills and future employment prospects and reduces their risk of reoffending. Since leaving KeepOut many prisoners have used skills and knowledge learnt whilst on the scheme to successfully gain employment.

Chair of the judges, Lady Corbett, said:

Among the high quality of entries we received, KeepOut stood out for its innovative approach which enables people in prison to give something back to the community while providing valuable knowledge and skills which help them to lead a law abiding life on release. Robin believed in ‘learning through doing’ and this scheme is an outstanding example of how this can work.
Angela Palmer, Chief Executive of KeepOut, said:
It has taken many exciting and sometimes challenging years to establish KeepOut - The Crime Diversion Scheme in three, soon to be four, of Her Majesty‘s Prisons. It has been an interesting journey and a real team effort; with everyone working together to make KeepOut an effective and successful model for reducing offending. Winning this prestigious Award is a great boost for everyone involved with KeepOut and we are thrilled to receive such notable recognition for our work.

We are especially grateful to all those that have contributed towards shaping KeepOut into the blossoming charity it is today. Our special thanks go to our civilian staff members, Directors, Governors, Prison Officers, the thousands of young people who have benefitted from our work over the years, and of course the prisoner team members - both past and present - who have been instrumental in delivering our work; whilst themselves undertaking their own rehabilitative journey.
A highly commended prize was awarded to Theatre Nemo, a charity which works with people with mental health needs within prisons, hospitals and in the community. It has been working in Barlinne prison in Glasgow for eight years and uses the creative arts as a means of expression, communication and as a powerful tool in helping people's confidence and understanding of the world around them.

The Governor of HMP Barlinnie, Derek McGill, said:
Theatre Nemo has been working in Barlinnie Prison for 8 years. It is a very small charity led by Isabel McCue. They deal exclusively with prisoners with mental health and vulnerability and have long since established themselves as essential to change management in Barlinnie and beyond the walls once prisoners are released.
Robin Eldridge, Governor of HMP Lewes, said:
I firmly believe the programmes delivered by KeepOut are making an outstanding contribution to the lives of the young people who participate; furthermore the work is clearly having a positive rehabilitative impact on the lives of the prisoners employed as facilitators and the consequent reduction in risk of future reoffending - in short these men are changing lives for the better. Put another way, at HMP Lewes we are employing Sussex men to keep Sussex children out of Sussex prisons.
Eoin McLennan Murray, President of the Prison Governors Association, said:
I was very pleased to see that governors had nominated so many small charities that were involved in excellent and worthwhile ventures that potentially would change the lives of prisoners so that they were less likely to be involved with crime when released. Judging which charity deserved the award was immensely difficult as they all made a compelling case. However, KeepOut was selected because it used prisoners to deliver a range of scenarios and role plays that really had an impact on young people and diverted them from crime. The judges were unanimous in their selection of Theatre Nemo as an innovative and worthy winner of the highly commended prize.