Thousands of police officers who have died or been killed in the line of duty were honoured at today’s annual National Police Memorial Day service, held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcements about prisons in mid-August, we wrote three letters seeking clarification:
- to the Permanent Secretary, Richard Heaton, about the sentencing review
- to the Secretary of State, Robert Buckland, about the £2.5bn for new prisons, and
- to the CEO of HMPPS, Jo Farrar, about the extra £100m for prison security
To their collective credit, they have replied only three weeks later, and with some detail. Their replies can be found at these links:
Inevitably, only some of our questions have been answered, and it pays to look closely.
Commenting on the findings of HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ Independent Review of Progress report on HMP Bedford published today (12 September 2019), Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“It is no surprise that the prisons which most consistently fail to deliver decent, safe conditions are overcrowded, very often with prisoners on remand or serving pointless short sentences. Bedford, a 200 year old pre-Victorian prison, is just one of many examples. If it is serious about ending this scandal, the government must start by quitting its addiction to imprisonment.”
Commenting on the findings of the HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Forest Bank, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“This report sums up the futility of the Prime Minister’s idea that you can build your way out of the prisons crisis. Forest Bank is a modern prison with a solid history of good local management. But 60% of the prisoners it holds are in overcrowded cells with half of them locked up during the working day. Unsurprisingly, violence and self-harm are common. It’s a similar story in other new prisons built over the last two decades, as the political addiction to imprisonment continually outstrips the willingness to provide the number of cells it requires.”
Commenting on the findings of the HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP/YOI Swinfen Hall, Alex Hewson, Senior Policy and Communications Officer at the Prison Reform Trust said:
“This report highlights a fundamental challenge for the prison service—that an attempt to improve safety in one establishment simply leads to instability in another. Reducing the pressure on heavily criticised HMYOI Aylesbury by sending young men to Swinfen Hall just led to a predictable spike in violence there instead. With young adults over-represented in incidents of self-harm, segregation and poor behaviour, and many hundreds of young men now routinely sentenced to astonishingly punitive jail terms, the Chief Inspector is right to call for a specific focus on this age group. A young adult strategy, as recommended by the cross-party Justice Committee, is long overdue.”
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Commenting on the findings of the HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Eastwood Park, Dr Jenny Earle, Prison Reform Trust lead for reducing women’s imprisonment said:
“The cause of at least some of Eastwood Park prison’s failings lie outside its walls in the lack of housing and mental health support for women in the community. It is shocking that inspectors found that more than two in five women were being released homeless
RESULTS OF 10 PRISONS PROJECT
Commenting on the publication of the results from the 10 prisons project by the Ministry of Justice today, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“Any reduction in violence in any prison is welcome. But the 10 prisons project and the fate of a prisons minister always risked being a distraction from the real issue facing the government. That is about overcrowding—still running at over 20% despite three decades of prison building. It has always been possible to yank a very poor prison back from the abyss for a while, but the strategic problem of prisons holding too many people has never been properly addressed. Any glimmers of systemic improvement will be quickly snuffed out if we return to the failed ‘prison works’ policies that have created this calamity in the first place.”
The Prison Reform Trust wants to understand what long sentences mean for the people serving them, the families and friends left behind, and the system that is responsible for their care. Then we want to make a difference – to the way of life in prison for people serving very long sentences and to their ability to build a future in the community to which almost all will return.
The Building Futures will be an innovative prisoner-led project. It will give long term prisoners the opportunity and skills to influence the policies and practices that affect them, and to build the bridges between prison and community on which their futures depend.
Young people have been let down and failed by the Government resulting in a social emergency and a devastating loss of life according to a new report by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The report, published today (31 July), points to the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy as a completely inadequate response to the wave of violence currently blighting our communities. The hard-hitting report calls for:
• Stronger focus, leadership and direction from the Government and Prime Minister, and an accountable leader in every local area reporting to the Prime Minister on action to bring serious violence down