Press Release: Justice report calls for greater focus on what works

18 Mar 2015

Prisoners’ Education Trust welcomes the Justice Committee’s report published today (18 March 2015) and its inquiry Prisons: planning and policies, calling for a greater focus on what works to reduce crime.

Rod Clark, PET's Chief Executive, said: “This important report offers a valuable insight into the impact of prison policies in this parliament. It provides further evidence of the decline in educational opportunities for prisoners and therefore we urge the government to meet its recommendations to improve rehabilitation, learning and skills programmes for prisoners.

“The inquiry heard evidence that access to education and training had ‘plummeted’ and that staff shortages meant prisoners couldn’t be escorted to activities. In two prisons, learners had to choose between having showers and making phone calls or going to class.

“Education reduces reoffending by giving people in prison the skills and opportunities to move away from crime on release. And taking part in positive activities supports a stable, safe environment within prisons, and must be protected at all costs.

“This report offers solutions. We particularly welcome specific recommendations, based on our evidence, that encourage the government to embed learning in different types of activities on offer across prisons, such as during gym sessions, and to review policies which have put off prisoners from study, such as Adult Learning Loans for higher level courses.

“We were also pleased to see the committee recommend prison staff work more effectively with prisoners themselves to foster positive relationships, make better use of their talents and welcome their opinions to improve safety and rehabilitation.

"PET has long championed the importance of involving prisoners and raising their voices, and we particularly support this aim.”

Additional recommendations in the report urged the government to reconsider the impact of restrictions on the Release on Temporary License (ROTL) scheme, which supports prisoners’ resettlement and rehabilitation and review the effect of changes to the responsibilities of prison governors, who no longer are accountable for contracted services such as education and health in their prisons.

In conclusion the report calls for a political and media debate to focus on evidence of what works to reduce crime, improve public safety, and ensure the most effective use of taxpayers’ money.

Editor's Notes

For interviews, photos or further information from PET please contact Susannah Henty (PET), Media Manager: Susannah@prisonerseducation.org.uk; 020 8648 7760 or visit www.prisonerseducation.org.uk

The Justice Committee inquiry is published on the Parliament website read the report. The report’s 11th recommendation in the Conclusion is based on the PLA’s expertise (see pages 23 and 24 for further detail).

The report includes oral evidence from Rod Clark, speaking on behalf of The Prisoner Learning Alliance, which also submitted written evidence to the inquiry. Read our press release here.

About PET

Since 1989, Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) has supported prisoners to engage in rehabilitation through learning. The charity does this by providing advice and funding for approximately 2,000 people per year for distance learning courses in subjects and levels not generally available in prisons. PET also carries out research, informed by prisoner learners, to improve prison education policies.

In 2012 PET launched the Prisoner Learning Alliance to work together with 18 other expert organisations to champion learning for people in prison.