Latest news and publications

Feb9 09/02/2017 00:01:00 by alex

The number of women in prison is in danger of rising as new threats place further pressure on an already beleaguered prison system, according to a new briefing published today (9 February) by the Prison Reform Trust.

A sharp rise in the number of recalls to custody; increasing use of suspended sentence orders; and the continued decline in the number of community orders risk more women ending up behind bars.

Nearly 10 years after the publication of Baroness Corston’s seminal review on women in the criminal justice system, Why Women?, has uncovered new figures showing that the number of women recalled to custody following their release has increased by over two-thirds (68%) since the end of 2014. Women recalled to custody now account for 8% of the total women’s prison population.

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Feb6 06/02/2017 14:30:00 by alex

The Prison Reform Trust has today (6 February) published a briefing and written to Liz Truss outlining our position following the government's response to Charlie Taylor's review of the youth justice system.

Whilst there are some positive commitments in the government's response, some of Taylor's key recommendations have been abandoned. Devolution of youth custody budgets; the national roll out of schemes to divert children away from the criminal justice system; reducing the disproportionate numbers of children in care in trouble with the law; and the introduction of Children's Panels all require reconsideration by the government to ensure that the welcome reduction in the needless imprisonment of children continues.

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Jan10 10/01/2017 12:00:00 by alex

Commenting on the Prime Minister's speech on mental health on 9 January, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, Peter Dawson said:

"We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement to tackle the ‘hidden injustice’ and stigma of mental illness, and additional investment in training and community care. High numbers of men, women and children in contact with criminal justice services experience mental illness, and liaison and diversion schemes can help facilitate access to mental health and other community services at an early stage. 

"Early intervention can help prevent escalating levels of need and expensive crisis intervention. For example, research demonstrates that for every £1 spent on women’s services, between £5 and £11 of benefits is realised in improved health and independence for women and their families.

"But that long term dividend can’t be realised without investment, not just in training and awareness but in the services which people need as the hidden injustice starts to see the light of day. A change in attitudes is not enough on its own."

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Jan10 10/01/2017 08:00:00 by alex

The long awaited Ministry of Justice's white paper on prison safety and reform was published in November.

Whilst there is much to welcome, the aspirations in the white paper can only be met through the delivery of very detailed policy development, most of which has yet to be undertaken.

There are also some critical elements of reform missing, including measures to reduce the demand for prison places; standards for decency and fairness; and providing a role for prisoners in designing and delivering reform.

You can read our full response to the white paper by clicking here.

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Jan9 09/01/2017 12:40:00 by alex

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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