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“Our prisons need saving from this current chaos”, say Dame Vera Baird

22nd June 2017

“Our prisons need saving from this current chaos”, are the words of Dame Vera Baird, backing the sentiments of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s response to a ‘devastating’ report on support for prisoners.

On the same day that prison reform is notably absent from the Queen’s Speech, the Howard League has spoken of a ‘growing scandal’ detailed in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.

The report says the ‘Through the Gate’ services approach,  designed to support people as they leave prison and return to the community, is failing to support people properly on release and is having no impacting on re-offending.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE, QC, said: “This report highlights that, through part-privatisation, essential needs of prisoners are fundamentally being overlooked. The Government must acknowledge that ‘Through the Gate’ has been a complete failure – with no benefit for prisoners or the wider society. Instead, the Government appears to be turning a blind eye, giving no mention of prison reform in today’s Queen’s Speech. Contradictory to the claims made today by the Justice Secretary who says reform is underway today, evidence says otherwise and the reality is that the interests of prisoners, staff and the wider public are once again being ignored and the chaos is left to continue.

“As Police and Crime Commissioner, reducing crime is obviously a priority for me and  a key way of doing this is by ensuring prisons and all partners do everything possible to cut reoffending. Yet, ‘Through the Gate’ has made no impact with helping offenders turn their lives  around, to improve safety for everyone.

“Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) haven’t made the cut – far from it. We urgently need to see the return of a publicly-run National Probation Service. If our Government was truly committed to protecting the public, supporting victims and reducing reoffending, prison reform would be treated as a top priority.”