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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

Feb 24, 2010: New Prisons Inspector

Prisons in England and Wales have generally improved over recent years, despite struggling with an increasing population and decreasing resources, said HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Dame Anne Owers in her eighth and final annual report.

But she warned that this progress is threatened over the coming months. Overcrowding and budget cuts risk instability in a fragile environment and could compromise the successful rehabilitation of prisoners.

Anne Owers leads HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), which is an independent inspectorate, with the role of inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promoting.  positive outcomes for those detained and the public. The inspectorate notes in the report that:

  • health and education have improved;

  • the number and rate of self-inflicted deaths in prison has declined in the last two years; and

  • resettlement has become central to prisons’ role.

But despite this progress, there remains concern about:

  • prevalent self-harm, especially in women’s prisons;

  • no discernible progress for young adults in prison;

  • poorer reported experience of prisoners from minority groups;

  • Insufficient primary mental health services and not enough skills-based activity; and

  • little focus on work with alcohol misusers.

In a busy year for the Inspectorate, 2009 saw 103 inspection reports and publications designed to improve treatment and conditions in a range of custodial environments. 2,800 inspectorate recommendations were achieved in prisons and immigration removal centres. Other developments included:

  • the pointless and unacceptable prisoner swaps between Wandsworth and Pentonville. As a result, the inspectorate is being resourced to carry out more unannounced inspections;

  • the Inspectorate becoming the coordinator for the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism, inspecting and monitoring all places of detention;

  • a new regular programme of inspection of police custody, jointly with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, which has raised some important issues; and

  • continuing inspection of immigration detention, with concerns that, unlike prisons, assessments of removal centres are less good than in previous years.

Anne Owers said:

“This year in prisons, 72% of our assessments were positive: an impressive record. But in spite of the progress made, prisons remain caught between the irresistible force of an increasing population and the immovable object of budget cuts. Population pressure affects the whole system – stretching resources, keeping in use buildings that ought to be condemned, doubling up prisoners in cramped cells. Prisons are larger and more complex. Resource pressures are at present being contained, but should not be underestimated. There are two risks: of increased instability in inherently fragile environments and of reducing prisons’ capacity to rehabilitate those they hold.

“I believe that independent inspection has had a demonstrable effect in improving places of detention and revealing shortcomings. It will be
greatly needed in the months ahead. I am particularly glad that the merits of a separate and specialised custodial inspectorate are now widely recognised, and that I am able to hand this, and the expert and committed staff team, over to my successor.”

Commenting on HM Chief Inspector of Prisons’ final annual report, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, described it as ‘a clear warning to be ignored at any government’s peril.’ She added:

"Reading the Chief Inspector’s far-reaching summary of hard won prison reforms and the remaining blocks and challenges, you look over the precipice of slicing budget cuts and relentlessly rising prison numbers. Fragile gains could too easily fall victim to short-term thinking and cutbacks in the important things, sentence planning, family contact, training and resettlement, that reduce re-offending on release. The Chief Inspector uses the chilling phrase “regression to the mean”.

"The Justice Committee’s report on justice re-investment, referred to by Anne Owers, offers the way to deploy limited public money most effectively – by reserving prison for violent and serious offenders and investing instead in effective community measures to cut crime."