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Monday, 12 June 2017

Temporary licence release key to getting prisoners jobs.New JusticeDavid Lidington.cMahon’s story: Supporting habilitation. Parole Board CEO Martin Jones welcomes 53 new members to their first week of training.Inspectors condemn probation supervision.

Introducing new Justice Secretary David Lidington

12th June 2017 

Fourth Justice Secretary in two years

It was yesterday tea-time (11 June 2017) before we learnt that, after less than 11 months as Justice Secretary Liz Truss had been moved to be Secretary to the Treasury (generally regarded as a demotion) and been replaced by David Lidington.


These biographical details are taken from Mr Lidington’s website:
Before elected to the House of Commons, David took a degree in history and then a doctorate in Elizabethan history at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.  He then worked for a time industry for BP and for Rio Tinto.
While an MP, David has held a number of different responsibilities.  He served on the education select committee during his first parliamentary term.  During the Labour governments of 1997-2010, he worked as parliamentary private secretary to William Hague, the then Leader of the Opposition, and then was Opposition Spokesman successively on home affairs, treasury matters, environment and agriculture, Northern Ireland and the Middle East.
Under David Cameron’s Government he was Minister for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for British policy towards the entire continent of Europe from Russia and Turkey to Iceland and Greenland.  David has represented the United Kingdom at the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, the Council of Europe, NATO and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).  His ministerial work took him to 45 countries on behalf of the British Government.
David has lived in Princes Risborough for more than 25 years.  He is married to Helen, a local primary school teacher, and they have four grown up sons, all born in Stoke Mandeville hospital.
While an MP, David successfully piloted through parliament the Chiropractors Act 1994 which placed chiropractic on a professional, self-regulated basis for the first time.
While at university, David captained the Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University Challenge team which won the championship in 1979.  In 2002, to mark the 40th anniversary of the show, previous winning teams were invited back for a Champion of Champions tournament which the Sidney Sussex team again won.  So David has the rare claim of having captained a championship University Challenge team twice.
Oddly he does not mention that he was appointed by Theresa May to be Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons in July 2016. He deputised for Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions on one occasion.

Justice Interests

Mr Lidington was an adviser to Douglas Hurd when he was Home Secretary in the late 1980s (when prisons came under the Home Office) and served as shadow Home Affairs Spokesperson in the 1990s. He was also Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Michael Howard QC MP, 1994 to 1997 before becoming Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon William Hague MP, June 1997.
He seems to have much less recent interest or experience in criminal justice matters with the exception of HM YOI Aylesbury which is in his constituency where he has a majority of 14,696 after last week’s vote, with Labour in second place.
His main campaigning activity appears to be against the highspeed rail link HS2.


I have no pretensions to being a political commentator but it seems clear that Mr Lidington is an experienced junior minister who is regarded as competent and a safe pair of hands. This is his most senior appointment in his 25 years as the MP for Aylesbury. .

Everyone  get writing to David Lidington regarding the IPP prisoners injustice.

David Lidington
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 3432
Fax: 020 7219 2564

David Lidington
Constituency office
100 Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP21 7QP
Tel: 01296 482102
Fax: 01296 398481

Temporary licence release key to getting prisoners jobs

Release more prisoners on temporary licence to get them into work
There should be a “step change” in the availability of release on temporary licence (ROTL) out of prisons to give more businesses the opportunity to employ prisoners in the community as part of preparation for their release.
That’s the main conclusion of a new report published last week (2 June 2017) by the Prison Reform Trust.
The report, which details the findings of a two-year action learning project “Out for Good” based in HMP Brixton in south London, says there is “huge potential” to get more prisoners into jobs and training. It found a substantial number of employers both open to employing ex-offenders and willing to work with prisons to achieve this.

Prisons, not employers main obstacle

Against expectations, the report found it was not the attitudes of employers but national prison policy and practice which was the main barrier preventing opportunities for work and training from being seized. Problems identified include poor coordination between different agencies; a lack of data on employment outcomes for prisoners; poorly defined targets for getting prisoners into sustainable employment; the impact of overcrowding on effective preparation for release; and a lack of opportunities for prisoners to work or volunteer in the community on ROTL. Many of these policies and practices are set at a national level and so are beyond the power of individual establishments to solve.

Current situation

Currently, just one in four people have a job to go to on release from prison. This means around 56,000 people are released from prison each year without a job to go to. Research shows the benefits of work for both prisoners and employers. 39% of people with a job to go on release reoffend compared to 59% of people who are unemployed. A survey of employers by the Chartered Institute for Professional Development found that former offenders were more loyal than other employees. With sectors including construction, transport, hospitality and catering facing long-term recruitment challenges, released prisoners represent a largely untapped resource who have significant skills and experience to bring to the workplace.
Commenting, Claire Coombs, Development and Community Engagement Manager at Keltbray Group, a UK leading specialist business working in engineering and construction, said:
Ex-offenders already make a valuable contribution to our workforce and there is potential for even more to do so. We are keen to work with prisons to ensure a smooth transition for prisoners into employment.


A lack of access to opportunities for temporary release was identified as a major barrier to getting more prisoners into work on release. The use of ROTL has fallen markedly in recent years, following changes to the policy introduced by the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. Between Oct-Dec 2013 and Oct-Dec 2016, incidences of ROTL out of prisons in England and Wales fell by one third. Since Jan-March 2016, incidences of temporary release have increased slightly and in the period Oct-Dec 2016 stood at 88,602 releases. ROTL has a remarkable success rate with only 73 out of every 100,000 releases resulting in failure.

Increase ROTL, increase prisoner employment

The report found that changes to the availability of ROTL out of HMP Brixton have had a significant impact on the ability of employers to provide work and training opportunities. Alandale Plant and Scaffolding Ltd is an employer who has sponsored the Bounce Back scaffolding training centre in HMP Brixton, and also employs people when they have completed their training. When, in December 2016, a decision was taken to end the temporary release of prisoners out of the establishment, it meant the course had to be revised as people could not do the final qualification until they were released.
Commenting, Matthew Warner, Managing Director of Alandale Plant and Scaffolding Ltd, said:
Prisoners on temporary release were able to get qualifications early, gain additional experience while still in prison and then come out to be employed by us on release.  They made a valuable contribution to the success of our business. The decision to stop ROTL placements out of HMP Brixton limits what was a seamless process from prison into work.  We find it hard to understand why something that was working so well would be stopped.  Especially as it inhibits the ability for employers like us to provide opportunities for people prior to release and give them the skills they need to lead a law-abiding life.


Drawing on the learning from the project, the report recommends a step change in the use of release on temporary licence (ROTL); a radical simplification of the commissioning and provision of employment and rehabilitation services; increased resources and support for governors to co-ordinate provision and build relationships with local employers; improved targets for sustainable employment for prisoners applying equally to prisons and community rehabilitation companies; improved national systems for data collection; and a concerted effort to reduce prison overcrowding.

You can find my resource pack of key agencies who help offenders find work here.

All prison posts are kindly sponsored by Prison Consultants Limited who offer a complete service from arrest to release for anyone facing prison and their family. Prison Consultants have no editorial influence on the contents of this site.


Tracey McMahon’s story: Supporting habilitation

This is the sixth in the turnaround series of guest posts written by ex-offenders who have turned their lives around and now work, in one way or another, in the criminal justice sector.
Today Tracey McMahon tells how she channeled the anger and frustration she felt at her treatment by the criminal justice system into developing a new accommodation service for offenders.


In 2013, my sentence was handed down to me.  I was first sentenced in 2011 to 18-weeks in prison suspended for a year and I walked out of court and within a week, I committed a second crime.
My case was an unusual case. My second crime was suddenly scooped up at the same time when the changes came in for what is now called Transforming Rehabilitation. M’Learned friends were on strike. LASPO became influential in changes to Legal Aid, however for me, I watched and researched how LASPO began to eat away at our Justice System.
On the back of my second sentence, when I was homeless, the Crown Court Judge stated it was pointless sending me to prison. The value of a robust and thorough pre-sentence report is not to be understated here. It is imperative also that a suspended sentence is not to be under estimated. A suspended sentence is not a slap on the wrist, this poorly reported sentencing option carries just as much weight as a custodial sentence.
Unusually, my second sentence came without an attachment of a supervision order. My pre-sentence report identified that Probation could do nothing for me. Therefore, the conditions of the suspended sentence licence were unconditional. The completion date for the suspended sentence was June 11 2014.  On June 12 2013, I walked out of court, a homeless woman with my belongings in a bin bag.

The Barriers to Accommodation

However, the biggest and most important journey, is the one I have undertaken as a woman and a mother since my experiences in the CJS. As a woman, and a mother, I have watched how the CJS descended into an abyss of mystery since the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms ate their way through the Probation Service. The introduction of Through the Gate is still in 2017, bedding itself in and remains a controversial area. This area however, requires a separate debate.
Despite my homeless status, I was able to have a sofa at my mother’s home. From a second-hand sofa, I re-engaged with former clients to build up enough money for a deposit for a home of my own. As a homeless person, I was told to present at the Local Authority Housing Needs Department. After completing endless forms, I was informed I did not qualify for a homeless duty as I had made myself intentionally homeless. I was also informed I did not have a local connection as I was out of area.
This set the precedent for researching homeless strategies of Local Authorities and their remit of people leaving prison. This led me to the Localism Act of 2011 and the lessening of Local Authority duty of care for prison leavers. From here, I began to develop what was to become The SHE (Support & Housing East) Project for women affected by the Criminal Justice System.

Released women prisoners stripped of motherhood

Living in my childhood town three decades later, as a homeless woman and a mother, I began to research how women in prison were facing monumental barriers to accommodation on leaving prison. Furthermore, I began to research how Mothers leaving prison faced a particular set of barriers if their children were in the care of family or the care of the Local Authority. The further I researched, the murkier the situation became. But one area stood out, that a Mother on seeking accommodation leaving prison would be treated as a single person without dependents. She was to therefore face little hope of being able to care for her child/children as accessing stable, affordable and suitable accommodation was at best slim. My situation became null and void as I did not have dependent children. They were both living with their father in the South. That did not stop me being a Mother. Mothers in the Criminal Justice System are a minority, yet the impact on their children reaches far and wide. I realised this was an area that was vastly under-reported and from there, I began to develop a service. It was then, I started to understand the barriers I faced as a woman with convictions. Furthermore, I was a woman with dishonesty convictions. Yet, I overcame this barrier through tenacity.
I began to network and source funding. During my sentence, I was refused endless meetings due to me having convictions of fraud. Set back after set back, I stumbled through, blogged and researched further while working as a copywriter and a translator. I saw very little on accommodation on leaving prison for any person, but I knew it was a problem for not only women, but men despite there being historical research that stable accommodation was effective in reducing re-offending numbers. In October 2013, I was able to move into my own home. I spent the next nine months forming what is now SHE Project’s back office infrastructure still not knowing how this would be pulled off.
In July 2014, following the completion of my sentence – I sourced a small office in Burnley – an empty room with two filing cabinets. Three friends worked with me in forming what would become our base and on September 1 2014, SHE Project opened her doors. A local construction company offered a three-bedroomed property and this was full within one week of three women leaving prison.
Since that day, SHE Project has branched out into helping families of prisoners in our local community. Notwithstanding the struggles as a small organisation, SHE Project has experienced, there is a robust team around her now. SHE Project remains small but has helped and accommodated 39 women in three years leaving prison and has been instrumental in helping Mothers reunite with their children leaving prison.
SHE introduces a new way of talking about desistance:
Rehabilitation is not a word we use here. We take the view that you do not need to be rehabilitated. You have not reached a point of no return. So we like to call the support we give, Habilitation.

The Future

SHE Project has explored other areas of the barriers women and men face – while Mental Health features highly on The Prison Reform agenda, SHE Project focuses on overall General Health and Wellbeing. The team demonstrate that areas such as oral care, eye care and Primary Health Services in prisons are vastly overlooked. Cervical screening for women in prison is an area we are currently researching. Women in Prison are the demographic group most at risk from cervical cancer due to lifestyles the tabloids pour scorn on.
In September 2015, I was awarded a bursary from The Griffins Society to research the barriers women and girls in prison face in accessing accommodation. This small research study of women whom had experienced barriers is due to be published soon.
Despite well-intentioned reforms from the Government with Transforming Rehabilitation and Through The Gate services, the biggest barriers prison leavers face is that of secure, stable, affordable and long-term accommodation. It is one area that needs a strategic reform with Prisons and Local Authorities.You can find out more about Tracey & the SHE project here

Parole Board CEO Martin Jones welcomes 53 new members to their first day of training.


What do the  new members have in turms of experience?
The Parole Board's role is to make assessment. I hope these  new members have understanding back grounds required to make risk assessments  fair and timely and which contribute to the rehabilitation of prisoners where appropriately and demonstrate effective and accountable corporate governance by maintaining strong internal control, setting clear  and transparent objectives and managing and  deliver best value by optimum use of resources.
By Looking at the photo the applicants are mainly white.  i would like to see some applicants with disabilities or from a black or ethnic minority background., or gender identity.
That members are given extensive glasses on back ground and understanding IPP prisoners and recall key issues.
Ii is crucial that tackle these challenges and to reduce case backlogs. I hope that the members have been selected from a wide pool of candidates. This time round agency work as one and moreover that changes need to be made by MPs so families are not ignored and if the case effective measures are put in place to use another MP which is not currently accessible.

How do memebers   predict a prisoner's potential for future risk or dangerous behaviour Should this be part of a parole decision?

How would one understand who has a hidden disablitys or understand the effects of the disblity on other or there  behaviour?
You cant change an inparment or a disability are you put at an  disavantage when it comes to reporting on Behaviour in a unnatural environment  often a violent hostile place in itself ?

Post date 2 year,s
 reportfrom the Prison Reform Trust and POPS (Partners of Prisoners and Families Support Group) finds that families play a key role supporting vulnerable people through the criminal justice system but are often let down by a lack of effective support and accessible information with too many facing high levels of social stigma and isolation.
The study heard from family members, including parents, grand-parents, siblings and partners of young people and adults with particular needs such as mental health problems, learning disabilities or autism in contact with criminal justice services.
  • 20-30% of people in prison are estimated to have a learning disability or difficulty that interferes with their ability to cope with the criminal justice system.
  • 26% of women and 16% of men said they had received treatment for a mental health problem in the year before custody.
A recent Joint Inspection report found that all the criminal justice agencies still provide a poor service to people with learning disabilities. And although efforts to divert people with mental health problems have increased markedly since the Bradley Report, there still remains very much to be done as Lord Bradley makes clear in his foreword to this report.

Families’ experience

30 family members were interviewed for this report either in focus groups or individually. They gave, often harrowing, accounts of years spent supporting their loved ones and desperately trying to access treatment.
A common theme was the lack of information, both about the particular circumstances of their relative’s arrest and, more generally, about the criminal justice process.
Family members talked about the stigma, isolation and feelings of shame and guilt they experienced. Many spoke of being made to feel like a “criminal by association”, often fighting unpleasantness and sometimes abuse both from members of the local community and from criminal justice personnel.
There was a big difference for family members who had been in contact with liaison and diversion services who spoke warmly about the support that they and their relative received.
Critically, liaison and diversion workers were able to help vulnerable offenders and their families access treatment and support services. Without that help, families said it very difficult indeed to even identify any form of help.
My son had problems before he got involved with the police and I tried to get help through the school and doctors. You should have somewhere to go before they get in trouble. If we’d had access to [youth liaison and diversion] before it came to the arrest, it might all have been stopped before it started. But now he’s got a record. There are so many different people and you don’t know who to go to, who can help – and they don’t help.

Inspectors condemn probation supervision by telephone

Inspectors report on Gwent

People assessed as lower risk need to be supervised more closely by the CRC.
Overall the work of the CRC in Gwent was troubling.
These are two headline quotes from Dame Glenys Stacey, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation, in a press release accompanying an inspection report into probation services in Gwent published earlier today (19 April 2017).

Overall findings

Overall, inspectors found that the National Probation Service was performing well:
Contrary to the published performance figures for NPS Wales, which suggest below average performance, the quality of their work was good. Inspectors found strong leadership, motivated staff, readily manageable workloads and some excellent NPS work in Gwent. The quality of work varies place by place, however, which is an issue that leaders must resolve.
However, the inspectorate was very critical of the low level of service that the CRC provider, Working Links, was providing to those assessed as low risk:
For the one in four people assessed as low risk, however, Working Links scale back supervision to a telephone call every six weeks. One in three of these people should also have contact with unpaid work supervisors or other interventions staff if those arrangements work as intended. Inspectors concluded that this means too many people get too little meaningful attention from probation staff. Without meaningful contact, individuals are unlikely to develop the will to change their attitudes and behaviour.
More detailed findings are set out below.

Findings — CRC

The main inspectors’ findings of the work of the CRC were:
  • Work to protect the public was not of sufficient quality.
  • Assessments and planning were good, but the quality of subsequent work was not good enough. In almost half of the cases we inspected, responsible officers had not taken all reasonable action to keep to a minimum the service user’s risk of harm to others.
  • The CRC was not sufficiently effective in delivering interventions to reduce reoffending.
  • Specific services were not available when needed, or at all in some cases. In addition, responsible officers were confused about the purpose and requirements of rehabilitation activity requirements.
  • The needs of female service users were given specific consideration, with women-specific interventions available. There was also a well-established and
    effective multi-agency approach to Integrated Offender Management.
  • Sufficient progress had been made in delivering the requirements of the sentence or licence in three-quarters of inspected cases. Responsible officers generally demonstrated a good understanding of the diverse needs of service users.
  • Inappropriate behaviour, absences judged as not acceptable, and non-compliance were responded to appropriately in nearly three-quarters of cases. There were too many cases, however, where the CRC judged the service user’s non-attendance as acceptable.
  • The extent of organisational change had disrupted some aspects of service delivery, and staff departures and sickness absence had led to poor reporting arrangements for some service users.
  • Managers and responsible officers were driven to meet contractual requirements at a cost to the quality of work. The CRC is facing financial pressures, and
    contractual reporting requirements and performance targets with associated financial implications or penalties had taken precedence.
  • More effective management oversight was required.
The graphic below combines performance for both NPS and CRC:

Findings — NPS

The main inspectors’ findings of the work of the NPS were:
  • The quality of work to protect the public was acceptable overall.
  • Assessments and planning were good, but the quality of subsequent work varied by area, with some work of a high standard. In a small number of cases the work delivered was poor.
  • Quality assurance arrangements made sure there were good quality court reports and accurate allocation decisions. Magistrates were very positive about probation staff court work.
  • Positive progress had been made towards reoffending outcomes, and the large majority of service users had not reoffended. We saw a number of examples where interventions had made a tangible difference in achieving positive outcomes for service users.
  • We found that individuals’ diverse needs had been identified in assessments and taken into account in planning, interventions and reviews in almost all of the cases we inspected.
  • We judged that sufficient progress had been made in delivering the requirements of the sentence in four out of every five cases. Service users were seen frequently enough in all the inspected cases.
  • The large majority of service users had abided by the sentence of the court. We found that appropriate breach action or recall to prison had been taken in every case where it was necessary to do so.

Findings — Co-ordination between NPS and CRC

Overall levels of co-operation and co-ordination between both probation agencies appeared to be working well:
  • Relationships and communications between the two organisations were strong.
  • Risk escalation processes worked well, and relevant performance measures were met. Pre-submission discussions between the CRC and the NPS in each case led to every submitted risk escalation being accepted.
  • From our direct observations, the submission of breach reports was well-managed.
  • With effective lines of communication established, matters of concern arising between the two organisations were easily discussed and addressed.
  • Both organisations demonstrated a commitment to partnership working and to Integrated Offender Management. Their work with women offenders was good. Joint training events provided opportunity for staff from both organisations to learn together.
  • It was not always clear from the ‘rate card’ which services and interventions were available. Consequently, the rate card was seen by the NPS as a barrier to
    accessing services, and there were delays in some service users accessing required interventions.


Overall then, inspectors have found once again that the CRC were performing much less satisfactorily than its NPS counterpart. The inspectorate is admirably direct in making it clear that it does not consider contact by telephone on a 6-weekly basis a proper form of probation supervision. The report is not entirely negative with inspectors’ impressed by the community hub model – but not its operation in practice.
As usual, I leave the last work to Chief Probation Inspector Dame Glenys Stacey:
Assessing the risk that someone might pose is not an exact science, and risks change over time. But in our view, someone’s circumstances can’t be kept under proper review through a telephone call every six weeks. Some other aspects of the CRC’s work are not operating as they should, and it is taking a long time for things to bed down. Staff morale is low and sickness absence high, although we did find committed responsible officers working hard to support people and to help them to change.
The big issue for NPS Wales is that the quality of work varies place by place, yet if all offices could deliver the high quality of work done by the NPS in Newport, then more individuals would be helped to change their lives.You can see my summary of the findings of the first nine probation inspection reports post-TR in infographic format here.


Im at my wits end. my brother is ipp in  his sentence was 3 years. 12 years later he is still in there and I have no way of doing anything, he has given up and doesn't want to speak to anyone I don't know what to do?

There's an interesting bit of statistical data:-Statistically there is an 87% chance prisoners will be "recalled to prison in the first year of release.If that's correct that's scary.  Mr Grayling has a lot to answer for. The NPS's caseloads have gone up again and all they do to reduce their load is recall people to prison for any minor thing they can find. No accountability. Things need to change . They are judge and jury when your recalled. The reason for the recall is pretty much irrelevant for the parole board. All about perceived risk.  

Very interesting report, you will note the reference to the ipp sentence in about the 6th paragraph. Spot on in my opinion.The article is Examining the dissolution of the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ inquiry into mental health and deaths in prisons: another missed opportunity?

Relevant section:-The Committee also noted that Prisoners serving IPPs (imprisonment for public protection sentences) – a form of indeterminate sentence whose abolition in 2012 was not made retrospective in effect – were especially at risk of mental ill health.

This report could be useful to those who may wish to try for compensation in the future. It is a sentence that can cause mental illness. So one can argue that any sentence that can cause this, causes suffering which is inflicting physical harm in my book. So the evidence becomes stronger and stronger! Torture is a high bar to hit in law but its getting closer with reports like this.

 This really is a punch to government policy and Lizz Truss :-
One important function of an Article 2 investigation and inquest is that systemic failures and evidence of any inhuman and degrading treatment that relates to the circumstances of the death, alongside the procedural duty to reduce risks and learn lessons, should be examined. Multiple inquests, inquiry reports, Inspectorate and monitoring reports, jury findings and coroners’ reports have made recommendations putting the State on notice of risks to the health and safety of people in custody. And yet no framework exists to ensure that these warnings are adequately responded to. This not only discredits the process but creates a culture of complacency…
 David Lidington is the new justce Secretary. Get writing and give him hell, like I will be doing 😊

Stabilise jails  retain prison staff 2. Review Grayling's probation reforms 3. Tackle shortage of judges

Release all IPP Prisoners immediately focus on reducing long term sentence inflation - danger that prison population, having been too high but static, will start going up.Use different sentences than prison as prison does not work .Missed out access to justice , crumbling court admin , too many court closures , terrible delays and most of all legal aid
So many challenges in delivery of criminal justice. Notably fundingNeeds the courts/justice system sorting out before getting more corrupt judges.The law is being abused. Not guilty means not guilty. Restraint is therefore a breach of human rights.and protect independence of the Judiciary something his predecessor abjectly refused to do.


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