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PRT comment: HMP Liverpool

19/01/2018 00:01:00

Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Liverpool, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
 
“We should all be ashamed that people are treated in this way in the 21st century, whatever their crime or the charge they face. But the answer cannot be confined to a new Governor and whatever sticking plaster the ministry can afford. Liverpool is just the latest example of a prison failing both its prisoners and the public. The responsibility for the problem ultimately lies with the politicians who have inflated maximum sentences while starving the prison service of the resources it needs to cope. Those same politicians need now to take ownership of the solution, reversing sentence inflation and having the courage to end our love affair with imprisonment.

“In the short term, if we are to continue to operate Victorian prisons like Liverpool, Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville and many others, they need to be adequately resourced to deliver decent physical conditions and days spent in work and education, not behind a cell door.”

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Commenting on the decision of the Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke to issue an urgent notification in response to safety concerns at HMP Nottingham, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"When a prison is failing in its basic duty to keep prisoners safe, it is right that the chief inspector is making prompt use of the notification power given to him by the previous secretary of state. Everything now turns on the current secretary of state providing an adequate response and seeing it through."

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Commenting on the findings of the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report on discrimination complaints, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman adds to the growing weight of evidence that prisons are failing to tackle discrimination. It echoes the findings of our own research, showing that many people, legitimately seeking answers, face unacceptable delays and inadequate responses. The neglect of remedies for unfair treatment should concern us all. A well functioning complaints system is a fundamental part of a successful prison service. It allows grievances to be resolved at an early stage and provides vital opportunities for prisons to learn. The government is failing to meet its legal responsibilities to promote equality in criminal justice. The Ombudsman’s report helps to show what government must do to repair the processes of resolving complaints about discrimination.”


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Commenting on the government’s response to the Lammy Review, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
 
“This is a comprehensive response that aims to meet the spirit as well as the letter of David Lammy’s report. But key recommendations on the judiciary have been rejected, outcomes for women are neglected, and very few of the promises of action have deadlines for completion. No new resources are promised to support any of this work, and the degree of external scrutiny proposed is very modest.

“So, as the government acknowledges, everything now depends on the evidence of change on the ground. Equality requires perpetual vigilance. The Lammy Review’s recommendation of an ‘explain or reform’ discipline must become a permanent foundation, running throughout every stage of criminal justice. We are a long way from that, and trust will only develop if people from BAME communities, including those in prison, see good words turned into action.”

Photo credit: UK Parliament, licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) 

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The latest edition of the Prison Reform Trust's Bromley briefings prison factfile highlights in facts and figures the consequences of a punitive political arms race over criminal justice policy over the past three decades. Steep cuts to prison staff and budgets in recent years have exposed the fault lines of a failed approach. The result is an overcrowded and overstretched prison system where standards of safety and decency are way below international expectations.
 
This year’s Bromley briefings open with a brand new section which we have called “The long view”. The Prison Reform Trust has built its reputation over more than three decades on presenting accurate evidence about prisons and the people in them. In a world where ministers feel compelled to respond to issues with ever greater immediacy, “The long view” offers an antidote to the latest Twitter storm or early morning grilling in the media.

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