Troubled Inside

Troubled Inside is a three year Prison Reform Trust campaign. It aims to effect change by exploring and publicising the experiences of offenders with learning disabilities and learning difficulties who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The work is guided by people with learning disabilities who have been in trouble with the police and professionals and academics from health and social care, learning and skills and criminal justice.

 

news and publications

The Prison Reform Trust welcomes the publication today by the Sentencing Council of Overarching principles: Sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders, or neurological impairments.

A high proportion of people in contact with the criminal justice system have mental health needs, learning disability or a neurological disorder. We hope that the new guideline will provide clarity and transparency for the sentencing of these individuals and help to ensure that their specific needs are taken into account and met in the sentencing process.

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Penal Reform International (PRI), in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust (PRT), has published a guide for prison and probation staff to help them understand how prison life can affect a person’s mental health, with a focus on women. The guide aims to break down the stigma and discrimination attached to poor mental health, especially for women in prison.

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Commenting on the findings of today’s (30 January) Ministry of Justice Safety in Custody statistics, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“We welcome the small decrease in the overall levels of assault and significant drop in serious assaults on staff. But the hidden crisis revealed in these figures is the record levels of self-harm, which continue to rise unabated. A failure to ensure decent and humane conditions, as well as respond effectively to the large proportion of people in prison with serious mental health problems, is being paid for in human misery and distress. Too many people are held in overcrowded conditions with too little to do. The government needs a plan to restore purpose and hope to our prisons. Sending more people to prison for longer will make matters worse.”

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Commenting on the latest safety in custody statistics published today by the Ministry of Justice, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

 “The faint hope that our prison system might have turned a corner has been dashed by these numbers. Prisons are still getting more dangerous as places where people have to live and work.  More people than last year chose to take their own life rather than endure it. When an individual prison hits rock bottom, the government reduces the number of prisoners it holds – but it continues to ignore the obvious truth that it is the prison system as a whole that is grossly overcrowded. Ministers talk about having recruited more staff, but the problem will only be solved by having fewer prisoners.”

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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Commenting on today’s (3 July 2019) publication of new definitive guidelines for arson and criminal damage offences by the Sentencing Council, Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust said:

“A significant proportion of people who commit arson have a mental health need, learning disability or autism. This guideline highlights the importance of courts obtaining a proper assessment of any underlying mental health condition or disorder before deciding the degree to which someone can be held responsible for what happened, and sets out a clear process for doing so, including full engagement with liaison and diversion services. This should lead to the fairer and more appropriate treatment of vulnerable defendants in our courts.”

Click here to read our submission to the Sentencing Council's consultation on the draft guidelines.

Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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PRT comment: HMP Wakefield

01/11/2018 00:01:00

Commenting on today's inspection report on conditions at HMP Wakefield, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This report shows what can be an achieved in an adequately resourced prison, with a stable and settled population. But it also highlights the unreasonable expectations placed on prisons and staff to care for people with acute mental illnesses. Rather than getting the help they urgently need, they are held in conditions which make matters worse, because secure mental health units will not or cannot make beds available. The Chief Inspector has correctly laid this problem at the minister’s door—the minister needs to apply the same discipline to solving it as he demands from governors in meeting the recommendations put to them.”

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The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Rt Hon. David Gauke MP, set out in a speech delivered last week (Thursday 21 June 2018) how the government is improving outcomes for people with mental health problems and other needs caught up in the criminal justice system.

Speaking at the 2018 reception of the Care not Custody Coalition he set out the significant progress made since the inception of the Coalition in 2011.

The Care not Custody Coalition also published a briefing at the event, bringing together the array of work by coalition members, and progress made to date.

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Following correspondence with the chair of the independent review, Sir Simon Wessely, the Prison Reform Trust, Centre for Mental Health, and Together for Mental Wellbeing convened a meeting to provide a ‘criminal justice’ response to the review’s initial consultation. The meeting was chaired by Lord Bradley, and our response can be read by clicking here

In a follow up discussion with Sir Simon, we have agreed to convene a further meeting that will focus on people with a learning disability and/or autism in the criminal justice system, which will be held in April. 

Further information about the independent review can be found by clicking here.

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