Our prison system is under constant pressure due to the high numbers of people in prisons and an aging infrastructure. Imprisonment represents the greatest cost in the criminal justice system. Fewer prison officers, overcrowding, drug use, violence, self-harm, suicide and a lack of adequate rehabilitation are all issues in need of urgent attention.
Prisons in England and Wales
There are 121 prisons in England and Wales. Since their creation, local communities have worked inside the prison walls to support those in custody. Today, there are thousands of voluntary sector staff and volunteers playing a key role in supporting the reduction of reoffending, helping families and children impacted by imprisonment and working through the prison gate to resettle people back into the community when they are released.
All prisons fall under Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). Through HM Prisons Service they manage public sector prisons and the contract for private prisons in England and Wales. View HMPPS’s organisational structure.
Of the 121 prisons, there are currently 14 contracted out to the private sector, 10 women’s prisons and 87 resettlement prisons. The aim, but not the reality, is for all prisoners to spend the last three months of their sentence in their local resettlement prison so that release plans can be properly developed. The Ministry of Justice target is to ensure that at least 80% of adult men will be released from these resettlement prisons.
The prison service set up 10 pathfinder prisons, which have additional resource to tackle violence, self-harm and suicide. Following learning in the 10 pathfinder prisons, keyworker roles are being implemented in all adult male and female prison establishments. Keyworkers are prison officers based in residential units (on the wing) who are there to support prisoners to feel safe, calm and settled, as well as responding to issues prisoners raise.
This prisons map shows the location and type of prisons in England and Wales. Click on the map for more information, including the prison areas and the names of the Executive and Prison Group Directors.
There are a vast number of voluntary organisations that work in and with prisons, supporting those in custody and their families, and helping individuals turn their lives around. Voluntary organisations have a long history of providing services to the prison community. 56% of organisations contributing to our latest State of the sector research work in prison with people who have been sentenced. Recent staff shortages, coupled with an increasingly volatile prison environment, has meant our members are finding it increasingly difficult to get access to the prison in order to deliver their services. Clinks seeks to make prison staff aware of the benefits our members bring to the prison and prisoners so that staff prioritise giving them access.
Voluntary organisations have substantial knowledge and expertise about the local communities they work in, the individuals they work with and the strategies needed to meet need. Our members have successfully pioneered and developed long term, flexible and person centred approaches that support the process of desistance from crime, ensuring that services and interventions do not just address immediate needs, but work towards the long-term goal of an individual successfully integrating back into the community.
Our Directory of offender services holds information on voluntary organisations working in prisons. Some prisons have their own directory of services listing the organisations they work with.
Read Clinks case studies showcasing the innovative work of our members working in prisons.
Advising the Ministry of Justice
Clinks provides the chair and secretariat for an advisory group to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group’s (RR3) purpose is to build a strong and effective partnership between voluntary organisations and the MoJ.
In February 2016, the then Minister for Prisons and Probation, Andrew Selous asked the RR3 to provide information on how voluntary organisations can be engaged in the government’s programme of prison reform and contribute to reducing reoffending. In this paper, the RR3 sets out key issues and ideas that we believe will support voluntary organisations engagement with the prison reform programme.
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The RR3 special interest group on Covid-19 will today convene voluntary sector leaders to discuss what is needed to mitigate the impacts of the virus on CJS voluntary organisations and the service users they support. We'll publish the key points from the discussion in a blog.