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12 Apr 2024

Hope and trust key to positive change in prisons

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ Improving behaviour in prisons report, published today (Friday 12 April).

Against a backdrop of prison overcrowding and rising drug use, violence and self-harm in many jails, the Improving behaviour in prisons thematic report looks to explore the prisons that are doing well and creating positive cultures for the people they hold.

The report draws on visits to eight prisons, as well as discussion groups with ex-prisoners, governors and academics, and looks to both highlight good practice and share learning for jails that are struggling.

Examples of good practice shared in the report include use of clear rules and boundaries for those living in prisons; staff who felt looked after; the use of behaviour management strategies to reward rather than punish; and the offer of work and education opportunities with clear links to life after release.

Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “At a time when the picture in prisons is especially bleak, it is good to remember that some truly impressive work is done in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Across the prison estate, there are hardworking staff and governors using the resources available to make their prisons safer and more purposeful. This report shows how putting hope at the heart of the system, as well as building trust between prisoners and staff, is key to securing positive change.

“It is important that we celebrate good practice where we find it, but, with prison population projections on an untenable course, it is also critical to highlight that unless we urgently change direction as a country, even these pockets of positive work will be under threat.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The thematic report Improving behaviour in prisons report is available on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at:



Noor Khan

Press and Public Affairs Officer

Mobile: +44 (0)20 7241 7873


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