Prisons and probation: making a reality of rehabilitation (I)

3 April 2017

At Tees and Wear Reform Prisons we are working together to create chances for change and hope for the future.

Working together is about developing a real sense of place, of understanding that local matters and that we need to be connected to our communities if we are to achieve the best possible outcomes for the public. We’ve been working with Involve to ensure an open Government approach of transparency, participation and accountability. Transparency is about good governance and using data and evidence. We have established an independently-led data and evidence advisory board.  And it is about a different way of involving our staff and the men in our prisons – making sure that every voice gets heard so that we make the best decisions together as we reform our prisons.

Chances for change means ensuring every man who comes in to our prisons knows what he needs to do to make the progress we expect to see, and has every possible chance to change. We believe that every man can lead a crime-free life, and that the public deserve our very best efforts to make this possible. We also know that for change to last, the men need to take responsibility for their own lives. So we are ensuring our prisons have a real focus on assessment and give each man a clear plan to guide their time in the prison; that we motivate them to follow it and we review the progress they are making. We are ensuring that we have the right mix of work, education, training and interventions so that our prisons are busy and purposeful, and the men have the opportunity to deal with all of the issues that meant they ended up in prison.  We are developing our learning provision using our new powers to ensure that it matches what the men need. We are working with local businesses to provide real work in prison and develop job opportunities for men on release. And we are focusing on making our prisons safe so that there is nothing getting in the way of change. This means preventing drugs coming in to our prisons, and providing the right support for the men to overcome addition. At Holme House this means becoming a Drug Recovery Prison with a significant increase in resources to do all that we can to sustain men in leading drug-free lives.

We do all of this because we know that our job is to support safer and stronger communities by stopping people who leave prisons from committing further crimes. For us, hope for the future is about giving hope to communities that there will be less crime, giving hope to families that they can rebuild their lives and giving hope to the men leaving prison that they can leave their offending behind them and become assets to their communities. We know that for all this to be true we need to work with all of the organisations in the community who share our goals. So we have signed a joint statement of intent with the probation service and the community rehabilitation company and we have employed a Director of Rehabilitation to oversee effective joint working. We are also working closely with our police and crime commissioners and local authorities.

This is what prison reform means to us at Tees and Wear Reform Prisons. The prison safety and reform programme is giving us much greater scope to design what works for us in the North East. It is empowering our prison leaders and allowing us to decide for ourselves how to deliver the best possible services for the public. And it is giving us the resources we need to deliver prisons that are working together to create chances for change and hope for the future.

Ian Blakeman, Executive Governor, Tees and Wear Reform Prisons

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