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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

March 20, 2008: Poor Relationships In Prison, Say Howard League

Prisoners in high security jails feel that poor relationships with staff and poor regimes behind bars are undermining their preparation for life after release, with inevitable consequences for reoffending, according to a report just published by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

'Prison Information Bulletin 4: High Security Prisons', which analyses quality of life surveys conducted by the prison service and obtained by the Howard League through the Freedom of Information Act, finds that high security prisoners criticise:

  •  Regimes: The most referred to negative aspect of prison life, with prisoners citing the amount of time spent locked in cells, lack of leisure and exercise facilities, inconsistencies or errors in the incentives and earned privileges system; as well as unpredictable regimes where new rules are implemented without informing the prisoners, rules were not applied consistently and instances where security was used as a justification for unfair decisions.
  • Relationships with staff: High security prisoners report negative attitudes from staff, a lack of respect and poor levels of communication. Prisoners described racist staff members and those who were unconcerned about prisoners’ opinions or needs and unwilling to help with problems.
  • Contact with families and the outside world:Dissatisfaction with outside world contact, seen as vital for a safe return to the community, was widespread. Prisoners described visits being cut short and poor access to telephones jeopardising their ability to maintain relationships with those outside the jail.
  •  Rehabilitation: Concerns are focused on a lack of offending behaviour programmes, late and infrequent completion of sentence plans, late and inaccurate review board reports, and insufficient opportunities to engage in vocational skill training or work.
  • Complaints process:The complaints system is seen as inefficient and ineffective, while prisoners had little faith in the applications process – an intermediate step between informal contact with an officer and an official complaint.

Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook, commented:

 “The prison service is currently analysing the quality of life surveys - not simply in the high security estate that this report focuses on - and unsurprisingly there is a clear link developing between safe prisons with active regimes that have good staff-prisoner relationships and subsequent reoffending. Decent prisons reduce re-offending and protect victims."

“This is of the utmost importance when we consider the high security estate, given the gravity of offences and the potential danger posed to the public that placement in a high security jail implies. The discontent and unhappiness within high security dispersal prisons recorded in this report should be concern to us all, as all but a few of these prisoners will eventually be released back into the community."

“High security jails need to be rebooted for the 21st century. With increasing numbers of criminals entering prison with extensive gang contacts, and increasing numbers of category A terrorist prisoners, it is vital that the high security estate is properly ring fenced from the rest of the prison system. At the moment, overcrowding elsewhere has seen more and more people sucked into dispersal prisons simply because beds are unavailable elsewhere.

“With a stable population of largely long term prisoners, the dispersal prisons should have intensive perimeter security to prevent escape alongside dynamic internal security, so that a reliance on barred gates and CCTV inside can be replaced with high staffing levels and highly skilled staff who can forge good relationships with prisoners."

“Most importantly, those incarcerated for years in the high security estate should be given something productive to do. Rather than spend years and years lying on their bunks, pottering about in flip flops doing nothing in particular, we believe that long term prisoners in the high security estate should be involved in productive activity in purposeful regimes. From education, training and other rehabilitative measures, to the radical concept of real work in prison we are now campaigning on, far more positive effort should be made than is currently possible in our failing prison system.