A new report published today (8 August) by the Prison Reform Trust demonstrates the benefits when prisoners are consulted about how to address areas of concern in prisons.

Prisoners reforming prisons focuses on three important areas of prison life—safety, respectful relationships, and the responsible use of time in prison. The prisoners’ input, summarised in this report, suggests solutions to crucial areas in which prisons’ performance have recently shown a marked decline.

The report is the second in a series under the Prison Reform Trust’s active citizens programme. The findings are based on work between the Prison Reform Trust and individual prisons to establish active citizen panels—providing a structure to consult prisoners about an issue that concerns them in their prison.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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As part of our continuing work to scrutinise the roll out of PAVA incapacitant spray to prisons across the adult male closed estate, the Prison Reform Trust submitted a Freedom of Information request seeking further information about the adequacy of safeguarding measures.

The response includes a copy of the readiness assessment, training plan and a copy of the Prison Group Director sign off for HMP Hindley—one of the first prisons to be approved for the roll out of PAVA following the initial pilot.

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For the second report of the Prisoner Policy Network, we asked members 'What do you need to make the best use of your time in prison?'. Prisoners who responded to our call for evidence told us overwhelmingly that they need to feel a sense of hope for the future and to be given meaningful opportunities which allow them to develop and thrive, with prisons promoting personal growth as an end in itself, not just a means to reduced reoffending.

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The first report of the Prisoner Policy Network, an emerging network of current serving prisoners, ex-prisoners and connected organisations who want to share their expertise and experience with policy makers. ‘What incentives work in prison?’ is the result of an extensive consultation exercise with over 1,250 people with experience of prison. Ensuring basic standards of decency in prison conditions; restoring trust in the incentives scheme; developing supportive prisoner and staff relationships; providing meaningful incentives; and giving prisoners the opportunities to rebuild trust, were all identified as key solutions.

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As a result of growing demand, we’re pleased to announce that we have just re-printed copies of our report, Leading change: the role of local authorities in supporting women with multiple needs. Two years after the report was first published, its reprinting is timely and has a renewed relevance following the publication of the government’s Female Offender Strategy in June this year. The strategy rightly places emphasis on the importance of joining up agencies and work at a local level. Local Authorities are key in achieving this, providing strategic oversight, and enabling collaboration and coordination to deliver necessary support to women in contact with, or on the edges of the criminal justice system.

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