NEWS

Oct28 4 days ago by alex

A prison system built to hold young men is struggling to cope with the rapidly growing numbers of old, sick and disabled people behind bars, a new Prison Reform Trust report, supported by the Bromley Trust, reveals.

The report, launched at HMP Brixton today (Tuesday 28 October), comes the day before the Prisons Minister Andrew Selous MP is due to give evidence on older prisoners to the Justice Select Committee.

People aged 60 and over and those aged 50–59 are the first and second fastest growing age groups in the prison population. Between 2002 and 2014 there was an increase of 146% and 122% in the number of prisoners held in those age groups respectively. On 31 March 2014 there were 102 people in prison aged 80 and over. Five people in prison were 90 or older.

Ever-lengthening sentences mean people in prison are growing old and frail with high rates of unmet social care and support needs. Two in five (37%) of those over the age of 50 in prison have a disability.

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May28 28/05/2014 00:01:00 by alex
A new report by the Prison Reform Trust, supported by the Bromley Trust, shows a system under significant strain with fewer staff, worsening safety, and fewer opportunities for rehabilitation.

Unprecedented cuts to the Ministry of Justice budget, due to total £2.4bn by 2015-16 , are creating a race to the bottom in prison conditions and the warehousing of people in super-sized jails, according to the Prison Reform Trust’s new report Prison: the facts. read more...
Apr29 29/04/2014 23:59:00 by tony
Letters and phone calls from prisoners reveal that, six months on from their introduction, new prison rules are undermining fairness and rehabilitation behind bars
 
Changes to prison rules introduced six months ago which include a ban on prisoners receiving books and other basic items are eliciting a strong sense of injustice in prisons and undermining opportunities for effective rehabilitation, a new briefing by the Prison Reform Trust reveals. read more...
Oct30 30/10/2013 00:01:00 by alex

Nearly half of people in prison in England and Wales could be warehoused in 1,000-plus supersized jails under government plans to transform the prison estate, the latest edition of the Prison Reform Trust's Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile reveals.

A shorter summary version, Prison: The Facts, is available for iPad and iPhone on the App Store and for Android devices via Google Play.

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Sep4 04/09/2013 13:51:00 by tony
Commenting on today's government announcement on prison building and closures, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
"Closing small local prisons and replacing them with supersized jails will not reduce crime or make communities safer. You can and should modernise the prison system without throwing taxpayers' money down the prison-building drain. The millions secured for new-build prisons could be more effectively spent on robust community service, treatment for addicts and care for people who are mentally ill."
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Jul4 04/07/2013 00:05:00 by alex

As the Justice Secretary announces 70 resettlement prisons, briefing finds budget cuts and overcrowding are leading to less purposeful activity, reduced regimes and more time in cell.

Massive cuts in prison staff and budgets are placing overcrowded prisons in England and Wales under unprecedented strain and undermining government plans to transform rehabilitation, the Prison Reform Trust's new iPad app Prison: The Facts, Bromley Briefings Online, reveals.

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Feb21 21/02/2013 11:24:00 by alex

A new briefing by the free market thinktank, Reform, sets out to reignite the debate about the role of the private sector in our prisons.

Read our response to the report's findings here.

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Jan10 10/01/2013 12:22:00 by alex

Commenting on new government plans for prison closures and building, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Closing prisons and reducing prison numbers offers major social and economic gains but it would be a gigantic mistake if the Justice Secretary were to revive the discredited idea of  titans and pour taxpayers' money down the prison building drain, when the Coalition Government could invest in crime prevention, healthcare and community solutions to crime.

"Small community prisons tend to be safer and better at reducing reoffending than huge anonymous establishments.

"Prison is an important place of last resort for serious and violent offenders not, as it has become, a place to dump people who are mentally ill, those with learning disabilities, addicts and vulnerable women and children."

Plans to build three 2,500-capacity "Titan" jails by the previous government at a cost of £2.9 billion were scrapped in 2009 following representations by the Prison Reform Trust and allied organisations. Read our briefing here.

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Sep11 11/09/2012 16:00:00 by alex


The Prison Reform Trust has recently provided evidence and a submission to the Justice Committee’s inquiry on women offenders, and the Scottish Prison Service’s consultation on women in custody.

Read our responses here


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background to private prisons

Faced with a rising prison population in the late 1980s the Conservative government saw prison privatisation as the most cost effective solution to the crisis, it was also part of the government’s determination to promote private enterprise and extend the free market into public services.

In 1986 the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee concluded that the principal advantages of contracting-out prison building and management to the private sector were that:
•   It relieves the taxpayer of the immediate burden of having to pay for their initial capital cost
•   It dramatically accelerates their building
•   It produces greatly enhanced architectural efficiency and excellence.
The select committee proposed that as an experiment the Home Office should enable private sector companies to tender for the construction and management of prisons (Home Affairs Select Committee, 1987). However, it did not recommend how extensive this should be or give a time frame and no evaluation process was set out.

Following a tendering process in which the public sector was barred from participating, Group 4 was awarded a contract to manage HMP Wolds, a newly constructed 320-bed prison for unsentenced male prisoners that opened in April 1992. The prison had a number of initial problems and there was genuine cause for concern about aspects of the regime in its early stages.

The Conservative government, however, pressed on without a full evaluation and in 1993 announced that all new prisons would be privately built and operated under the private finance initiative. It was not deterred when Home Office commissioned research which evaluated the Wolds concluded in 1996 that:
..similar, and some might argue, better achievements are to be found in some new public sector prisons, showing that the private sector has no exclusive claim on innovation or imaginative management able to deliver high quality regimes… (Bottomley et al, 1996).
During the Conservatives’ time in office, as well as the Wolds, a further three prisons (Doncaster, Blakenhurst and Buckley Hall) were opened that had been built with public funds but were privately managed. The Conservatives also commissioned the private sector to build and run two more prisons, Parc and Altcourse.

The Labour Party vehemently opposed the Conservatives’ policy on private prisons, but within a week of being elected in 1997, it made a dramatic U-turn. On 8 May 1997 Jack Straw announced:
If there are contracts in the pipeline and the only way of getting the [new prison] accommodation in place very quickly is by signing those contracts, then I will sign those contracts.
In a speech to the Prison Officers Association the following year Straw announced that all new prisons would be privately built and run (Nathan, 2003).

Under Labour seven more PFI prisons were opened. The coalition government has agreed to build a new 800 place prison in east London.