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HM INSPECTORATE OF PRISONS REPORT ON HMP BRIXTON
Commenting on today’s (2 July 2019) publication of the inspection report of HMP Brixton by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“There is much to praise in what has been achieved at Brixton by the Governor, staff and prisoners working together. But filling almost a third of the prison with men convicted of sexual offences was an expedient measure that did not have the best interest of those men at its heart. As intended, it will have contributed more than this report acknowledges to reductions in drug use and violence.
England and Wales send more people to prison each year than anywhere else in western Europe
There were more than 140,000 admissions into prison in England and Wales in 2017—the highest number in western Europe, according to a new report published today (24 June 2019) by the Prison Reform Trust.
The report Prison: the facts, reveals that, despite the number falling in recent years, England and Wales still have over 40,000 more admissions to prison than Germany, the second-highest—which has a significantly larger national population.
The comparative figures are taken from the latest available Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics.
Commenting on the Scottish Parliament’s vote to extend its presumption against the use of custodial sentences of 12 months or less, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“The Scottish Parliament’s decision to extend its presumption against short prison sentences is not only extremely welcome, it follows the evidence. We know that short spells behind bars do little to rehabilitate, with higher rates of reoffending than more effective community alternatives, and many people leaving prison in a worse situation than when they first entered. With Conservative ministers considering the introduction of similar measures in England and Wales, there is an emerging consensus across parties and nations. It’s time to follow Scotland’s lead.”
The National Annual Report from the Independent Monitoring Boards was published recently, with the volunteer members reporting that the prison system is in a state of ‘fragile recovery’.
A lengthy period of staffing problems, increases in drugs and violence, and inadequate rehabilitation opportunities had added to an already stretched prison system’s problems.
In the report, Dame Anne Owers, National Chair of the IMBs, highlighted the impact of new psychoactive substances on prison safety, with a rise in violence and self-harm.
As prison governors were granted greater autonomy to grant Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) to offenders, the Government announced that 230 additional businesses had joined the MoJ’s flagship offender work placement scheme, the New Futures Network (NFN). The news came a year on from the launch of the prisons Education and Employment Strategy.
The Justice Secretary also announced a fundamental reform of the probation system to ensure that rehabilitation, support into work, treatment and housing is continued for ex-offenders when they leave prison. In addition, a new £250,000 construction academy opened at HMP Leeds – to equip offenders in Yorkshire with valuable skills ahead of release.
Commenting on the government’s announcement today (Thursday 20 June) of the decision to expand the community sentence treatment pilots (CSTPs) to nine additional courts in two new areas, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“We welcome the decision to expand the CSTPs to nine additional courts on the back of evidence which shows a 250% increase in referrals to mental health treatment and better outcomes in the current pilot areas. As the justice secretary says, this is just the start of a more effective response to offenders with mental health needs and we look forward to a further expansion of services in the near future.”
HMP BRISTOL URGENT NOTIFICATION
Commenting on today’s announcement (13 June 2019) by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, that an Urgent Notification has been issued to justice secretary David Gauke over conditions at HMP Bristol, Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust said:
“It is shocking that a prison in special measures since 2017 remains in such a state of decline that the chief inspector feels he has no other option but to issue the justice secretary with an urgent notification.
John Apter responds to Ministry of Justice’s knife and offensive weapons sentencing stats
The new Prime Minister must put serious violent crime at the top of their agenda as the number of people caught with knives and weapons reaches its highest in almost a decade, says National Chair John Apter.
Ministry of Justice figures, released today (June 13), lay bare the extent of the serious violent crime wave which continues to sweep the nation.
They show in the 12 months to the end of March 2019, 22,041 possession offences were dealt with by police and courts - 34% up on 2015 and the highest total since 2010.
INDEPENDENT MONITORING BOARDS NATIONAL ANNUAL REPORT
Commenting on today’s publication of the IMB National Annual Report (5 June 2019), Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“This report makes very sobering reading for the new prisons minister, Robert Buckland. There can be no disputing the first hand, directly observed evidence of over 51,000 individual visits to prisons. The report describes a catalogue of failure to deliver even the most basic standards of care and a chronic waste of human and physical resources in our prison system.
Police seizing more than 10,000 knives during a week-long campaign has provided insight into what could the norm if the service was adequately funded, says the national chair of the Federation.
All forces joined Operation Sceptre between 11 and 17 March which saw 1,372 people arrested, including 516 for a knife related offence through a series of measures including intelligence-led stop and searches and weapon sweeps.
John Apter, national chair of Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The staggering amount of knives seized in such a short period of time not only highlights the severity of the issue, but shows just what our hard-working members are able to achieve when they are resourced properly. However, it must be pointed out that operations such like this are only possible if officers are diverted from other vital duties which is a deeply concerning situation.