The High Sheriff of Staffordshire

The High Sheriff of Staffordshire

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What do you need to make the best use of your time in prison?

On the 9th July, the Prisoner Policy Network met at HMP Stafford to introduce its latest report.

This latest report from the Prisoner Policy Network, a group created by the Prison Reform Trust in 2018 to support prisoners and contribute effectively to the policy issues that affect them, was based around the question ‘What do you need to make the best use of your time in prison?’ The Network consulted over 1,000 inmates and ex-prisoners, as well as their relatives, to answer this question.  The findings, together with their recommendations, were presented by Dr. Lucy Wainwright and Paula Harriott of the Prisoner Policy Network at the beginning of the day.

Through the consultation process, the following recommendations emerged:

  • A stable, safe and consistent regime with a well communication set of expectations for both prisoners and staff, is an essential building block for any prison
  • Prison staff need to be supported to develop ways of working that build inspiration
  • Prison security department assessments should be clearly communicated to prisoners
  • Prison education should be developmental and go beyond basic skills
  • The arts and creativity have a key place in prison to support engagement, tackle isolation and build optimism
  • Prisons should conduct a skills audit for each prisoner on arrival and utilise these skills to support and enhance life inside prison
  • Prisoner-led initiatives are vital to increase a sense of ownership and responsibility of the health of the prison community
  • Prisons should enable greater and better quality access to families and the wider community as part of a strategy of building prisoners’ capacity to change
  • All prisons should make it easy for community-based organisations to contribute to the health of the prison community
  • Prisons should provide more practical help towards resettlement and this should start earlier in the sentence
  • Prison wages should be reviewed and brought into line with the rising cost of canteen items and the high cost of prison phone calls.

Following the presentation of this latest report, the second consultation, based around the question ‘How can we reduce conflict, tension and violence in prison?’, was launched with a short panel discussion.

It was an extremely informative day and I was honoured to be part of it.  These reports and the resulting recommendations are bringing about true change and it gives me great hope for the future of the inmates of HMP Stafford.