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Key Current Policy

Key Current Policy

Recent policy and reviews

Coates Review

‘Unlocking Potential: a review of education in prison’, the much anticipated report by Dame Sally Coates, was published on Wednesday 18th May 2016 as a prelude to the Queen’s speech.  The report announced new freedoms for prison governors to reform prisons in England. A central tenet of the report is recognition of the role arts can play in prison education and specifically; the power art has to engage new learners and transform lives. Championing the arts, Dame Sally Coates’ review states “Prison education should include greater provision of high quality arts provisions.”

Culture White Paper

The Culture White Paper sets out the government’s vision, strategy and proposals for the cultural sectors – the arts, museums and galleries, libraries, archives and heritage.

It outlines

  • the key issues facing the culture sectors today
  • the role we want culture to play in our society
  • what the government and our public bodies will do to address those issues
  • how we will ensure that everyone can enjoy and benefit from culture.

The former Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, expressed recognition of the dynamic and necessary role arts and culture can play in transforming individual lives and communities.

The White Paper states

There are also many good examples of how cultural interventions can benefit prisoners, ex-offenders and people at risk of becoming involved in crime. Culture can help to improve self-esteem, social skills and wellbeing: all of which helps to reduce the risk of offending and re-offending and make our communities safer.”

Prison Reform

On 18th May 2016, during her speech at the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen announced that more than 5,000 offenders would be housed in new reform prisons by the end of the year as part of the largest reform programme since Victorian times. The country’s first autonomous reform prisons were named as

  1. HMP Wandsworth
  2. HMP Holme House
  3. HMP Kirklevington Grange
  4. HMP Coldingley
  5. HMP High Down
  6. HMP Ranby

These prisons will give unprecedented freedoms to prison governors, including financial and legal freedoms. Governors will influence how the prison budget is spent and whether to opt-out of national contracts, as well as operational freedoms over education, the prison regime, family visits, and partnerships with work and rehabilitation services.

Transforming Rehabilitation

Transforming Rehabilitation is the name of the Government’s programme for how offenders are managed in England and Wales as of February 2015. The programme has involved outsourcing of a large portion of the probation service in England and Wales. The reforms have placed 35 individual Probation Trusts with a single National Probation Service, responsible for the management of high-risk offenders and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) responsible for the management of low to medium risk offenders in 21 areas across England and Wales – these are referred to as Contract Package Areas (CPAs). The CRCs also have a new responsibility for supervising short-sentence prisoners (those sentenced to less than 12 months in prison) after release.


Forthcoming reviews

Taylor Review

In September 2015, Charlie Taylor was asked to lead a departmental review of the youth justice system for the Ministry of Justice. The review is examining evidence on

  • what works to prevent youth crime and rehabilitate young offenders
  • how this is applied in practice
  • how the youth justice system can most effectively interact with wider services for children and young people
  • whether the current delivery models and governance arrangements remain fit for purpose and achieve value for money.

Lammy Review

David Lammy MP will lead a review of the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales to investigate evidence of possible bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities. With significant overrepresentation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in the Criminal Justice System, the review will consider their treatment and outcomes to identify and help tackle potential bias or prejudice.

Transgender Review

A review into the care and management of transgender offenders will consider what improvements can be made across prisons and probation services and across youth justice services. The review will develop recommendations for revised guidelines which will cover the future shape of prison and probation services for transgender prisoners and offenders in the community.


Image courtesy of TiPP (c) Paul Gent