Prisons can be made safer by granting inmates the opportunity to reward staff for being “respectful, helpful and professional”, according to a new report.
Prison staff should be proactive in recognising inmates’ achievements and contributions to the prison community, the same report claims.
Governors should also appoint working groups of officers and prisoners to talk about the issues they face, which they can try to resolve together.
Listening to prisoners’ insights, understanding their frustrations, and allowing them to take responsibility and to demonstrate trust, are the bedrock on which safe and effective prison regimes are built.
Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust
In the year to September 2018 there were 3,949 serious assaults in jails and in the 12 months to December 2018, there were 325 deaths in prison custody according to Ministry of Justice figures.
Peter Dawson, the trust’s director, said: “Listening to prisoners’ insights, understanding their frustrations, and allowing them to take responsibility and to demonstrate trust, are the bedrock on which safe and effective prison regimes are built.”
The report follows on from the latest round of the trust’s active citizenship programme, whereby 19 panels consisting of prisoners across England and Wales produced reports about issues taking place in their jails. These are submitted to their governors so that they can be resolved.
One panel describes a “continuum in officers from those who are ineffective and absent, through others who abuse their powers, to those who are professional and carry authority”.
Another recommended that prisoners should be offered ways to reward those officers who are “respectful, helpful and professional” and that prison staff should reciprocate this recognition.
“When staff earn the trust of prisoners, communication improves and officers learn about problems before they escalate into violence,” the report says.
Read the full report here.
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