Prison reform white paper

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 Press Statement  

3 November 2016 - Immediate Release

Prison reform white paper

The increase in violence and self-harm in prisons can no longer be ignored by this government and Napo welcomes the government’s commitment to reform. It is vitally important that prisons are safe places for both prisoners and staff. Nevertheless, we have reservations about the approach the government is intending to take and are disappointed that a reduction in the prison population is secondary to the key measures likely to be announced by the Secretary of State for Justice today.

Whilst prisons remain overcrowded and under staffed it will be impossible to
implement any meaningful reforms and the Probation Service should be a direct
alternative to custody. Napo also believes that sentencing guidelines need to be
reviewed and properly supervised community penalties used more widely. In order to do this, the government must first address the crisis in probation and restore public confidence in a service that has been decimated over the last two years.

Ian Lawrence General Secretary said: “We cannot continue to have an ever
increasing prison population. Probation should and can be a direct alternative to
custody but the government needs to acknowledge that its reckless social
experiment to reform a gold standard probation service has failed, and take urgent action to restore it to a publicly owned and locally accountable service that
sentencers and the public can have confidence in.”

Napo welcomes a commitment to the recruitment of additional Prison Officers but in order for this strategy to be effective we believe it must be supported by
commensurate levels of training and real wage increases. There are real doubts about the effectiveness of recruiting ex-service personnel into prisons without a clear strategy beyond seeking to increase disciplinary standards, especially given the number of veterans finding themselves in custody or the justice system as a result of little or no support during their transition into civilian life. A one dimensional approach to the complex problems within the prison estate could exacerbate the levels of
despair amongst the offender community rather than improving the situation.

Ian Lawrence added: “A considered policy on staff recruitment, training and the
education of offenders needs to be developed in order to provide a safe and effective prison system that will help to retain staff and reduce incidents in custody. This must also include a coherent system for the rehabilitation for offenders that can then be continued in the community upon their release.

 

For further information and possible media opportunities please contact Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence on 07788 118005 or Tania Bassett (lead for media and parliamentary issues) on 0790 4184195.

 

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