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17 Aug 2018

Howard League responds to plan to improve standards and security in prisons

The Howard League for Penal Reform has today (Friday 17 August) responded to the Ministry of Justice’s announcement of a £10m project aimed at improving standards and security in ten prisons.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Additional funding is always welcome for a public service that is as overburdened and under-resourced as the prison system, but the devil will be in the detail.

“It is disappointing to see that most of the money will be spent on locks, bolts and barbed wire. As the minister is aspiring to create ‘centres of excellence’ in ten prisons he should look at dynamic security which is about building relationships and getting prisoners active. It looks as if ministers are yet again micro-managing governors by bureaucrats at the centre.

“Ultimately, the key to making prisons safer and more secure lies in reducing demand on the system. Bold steps to reduce the prison population would save lives, protect staff and prevent more people being swept into deeper currents of crime, violence and despair. Ministers have made a start in recent announcements and this is the route to their centres of excellence, not barbed wire and a bucket of paint.”

The announcement comes only a few days after research by the Howard League revealed that almost 1,000 years of additional imprisonment had been imposed for rule-breaking in prisons in England and Wales.

The total number of additional days handed down nationwide has more than doubled in three years – from fewer than 160,000 in 2014 to almost 360,000 last year.

Frances Crook said: “The Howard League will judge this project on its success or failure to bring down the unsustainable levels of additional imprisonment that are imposed in the ten pilot prisons.”

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.
  1. Earlier this week, the Howard League published research on the imposition of additional days of imprisonment in prisons in England and Wales. The rising tide: Additional days for rule-breaking in prison can be read on the charity’s website.


Rob Preece
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