Chris Holmes from HMPPS Evidence & Insights Team and Andrea Hood, Volunteering Lead at MoJ Commercial, reflect on a day well spent at HMP Send.  


We’d heard great things about the fantastic conservation and horticulture work by the staff and women at HMP Send.  

So, this was a great opportunity organised by the Sustainability lead in HMPPS Rehabilitation Directorate as part of Insights23 and MoJ volunteering, to see some of it first-hand. At the same time, we hoped that by volunteering for a day we would make a small but practical contribution to their efforts to reduce reoffending and improve sustainability.  

We know that greenspace outside prison walls has a positive effect on prisoner wellbeing. So the aim was to improve the open space around Send’s recently built and opened Incentivised Substance Free Living Unit and provide opportunities for some of the women to develop new skills growing flowers and vegetables. The staff and women were really positive and proud of their new accommodation and ethos of the unit. The new modular living units surround an open grass area and look and feel very different to a normal wing.    

About a dozen volunteers (mostly recruited by Andrea from MoJ Commercial) were tasked with clearing an area of ground and laying a paving base for a greenhouse and assembling some wooden planters. None of us really knew what we were doing at first, but this didn’t matter. Without any detailed instructions, plan, strategy or “The Apprentice” style attempts to prove anyone’s leadership skills, we self-organised into two loose groups.  

In no time we began to make progress. Some of it was tough going, there was some heavy lifting involved but we shared the tasks and were also helped and encouraged at times by some of the women. We developed new skills and experience ourselves drilling holes and levelling the surface.         

Collecting the tools and equipment from the Works Department gave us a sneak peek at some of the 4.5 acres of gardens, polytunnels and greenhouses where the prison grows fruit and vegetables for the kitchens. There is also now a thriving wildlife area around a pond, recently rebuilt by MoJ volunteers and now maintained by the women.   

We were interested to learn that the impact on the women of working in Send gardens has been featured by photographer, artist and filmmaker Faye Claridge in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society. This video shows how some of the women at HMP Send engaged in the project developed new skills and overcame challenges to their mental health and wellbeing.  

This video shows how the horticulture programme at HMP Send helps the women to get horticulture qualifications and employment. 

The end of the day came around quickly. To our surprise and the delight of the staff and women we had assembled 6 planters and completed the base, ready for the next group of volunteers to put the put up the greenhouse.  

We also benefited as volunteers. We enjoyed a refreshing day outdoors, boosting our mental and physical well-being, honing our skills together with fellow volunteers. This experience deepened our social connections and heightened our empathy and compassion for others. At the end of the day, we felt a profound sense of purpose and that we had done something meaningful.  

Volunteering holds transformation power. It’s incredible how much a small, dedicated group can achieve in short time.  

But most of all we’d been inspired by how the women supported by the amazing staff at Send, use gardening to turn their lives around. 

How prisons operate, how people in them relate to each other, and what happens inside them have a huge impact on the people living or working there, and for the public. These wide ranging and serious impacts are the reasons why we should pay close attention to the culture of prisons. 

Dr Rachel Gibson talks us through her recent work with Flora Fitzalan Howard, and Dr Helen Wakeling to better understand how to change prison culture.  


Evidence suggests that the culture of a prison influences the people in them, and their outcomes, for example:  

We know culture is important and we know the kind of culture we want, but we know less about how to change it. To fill this knowledge gap, we have been trying to better understand how to change prison culture in HMPPS and we have recently published research about how one prison did this effectively.  

We spent 2 weeks at the prison, talking to staff and prisoners about their experiences of: 

We also looked at reports and data and spoke to people who supported the prison including the Prison Group Director.  

People’s experiences were varied. But overall, their description of what the prison was like 2 years ago was fairly consistent. They said it:   

Their experiences of what the prison was like now were a little more mixed, although, generally they said it was: 

Staff felt more cared about and supported, and there were improved: 

So, how did the prison manage to make these changes?  

For some people we spoke to, this was tricky to answer. However, having reviewed what they said, and the wider evidence base on how organisations and people change, we developed an early model to identify the change-enabling conditions and the mechanisms of change.  

The change-enabling conditions included: 

The mechanisms of change included: 

You can read more about this model in our research report: Understanding Culture Change - A case study of an English Prison (publishing.service.gov.uk).  This flow chart from our research report summarises the model: 

View a full size version of the flowchart in a new window.

So, what does this mean for people trying to develop positive culture in prisons?  

Well, we know that culture change isn’t easy and it can take a long time. It can be easy to give up when we don’t see the change we want happening, as we feel disheartened and demotivated.  

Whilst we need to do more work to develop and test our early model, we hope this research will help people who are trying to do culture development work at other prisons.  

To read the full research including our recommendations go to: Understanding Culture Change - A case study of an English Prison (publishing.service.gov.uk).

For more information or questions contact us at: evidence@justice.gov.uk.

Have you ever facilitated researchers to undertake research in your work area with people in prison or on probation? Have you taken part in focus groups and/or filled in questionnaires and not really understood why you are doing it or what happened afterwards? Have you ever wondered how research that you take part in or read about applies to your daily practice? If so, this session is for you.

You will hear about the benefits of research; how the findings can be shared to support your practice and ways to access findings. You will hear about the experiences of people who have undertaken research and the different ways the findings have been shared and supported operational practice.

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The Arukah Project CIC (www.arukah.co.uk) is a not-for-profit community interest company that aims to raise awareness of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma, and how it impacts the lives of those who are in contact with the criminal justice system.

The project has developed an emotional health and safety framework that includes education, sharing experience and practical learning of emotional freedom techniques (EFT). These highly effective self-help evidence-based tools act rapidly on the nervous system to support emotional regulation and we combine this the integration of trauma-informed practice. They work collaboratively with organisations supporting their service users and staff offering a range of workshops, interventions and support including 'The Arukah Community' online community.

Watch this insightful event for an overview of the work we do and share practical experiences of the techniques to show the effectiveness and ease with which they can be learnt and deployed.

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How do other organisations create a culture of learning? What practical approaches do they use?

Join Business Author and Consultant, Chris Collison as he takes us on an interactive tour of some of the world’s most interesting learning organisations in the private and public sector.

Chris guides viewers on a virtual tour of the Olympic Athlete’s village, takes us through 360-degree turns in a Hawk-T1 jet, and shows us how a snakes and ladders game was adapted to help scientists lead networks.

What can we learn from the best?
Chris is an independent management consultant and business author with 27 years of experience in knowledge management, and organizational learning.

His corporate experience comes from long careers in BP and Centrica, working on all aspects of knowledge-sharing, organisational learning and developing people networks.

He is co-author of the best-selling business book ‘Learning to Fly’, together with ‘No More Consultants’, ‘The KM Cookbook’ and ‘Return on Knowledge’.

In 2005 he left the corporate world to establish his consultancy, Knowledgeable Ltd. Since that time Chris has been working as an advisor in the field of Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning and has had the privilege of serving over 170 organizations around the world. His clients range from the UNICEF to the International Olympic Committee and several UK Government departments, including the Home Office and MoJ.

Chris is visiting faculty at Henley Business School and is a Chartered Fellow at CIPD and CILIP.

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Failure is inevitable. We all experience it at some point, whether it’s a failed relationship, a botched job interview, or a burnt dinner. But how do we effectively embrace failure as part of the natural learning process?

This session unpacks failure; what it means, why it’s important, and how we can embrace it to improve our productivity at work. Through reflecting on our own experiences of failure, we will consider the learning opportunities that arise and how we can utilise them to improve the way we approach tasks and challenges.

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This event recording provides practitioners with an opportunity to consider how best to support people with an acquired brain injury in the criminal justice system and hear about the findings of recent research from members of the ABI Justice Network which include academics, medical professionals and voluntary sector organisations.

Viewers will gain an understanding of how members of the network are working together to raise awareness of acquired brain injury and support the development of both the evidence base for effective support and appropriate pathways for supporting people with ABI within the health and justice systems.

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The Design Faculty have developed learning materials for staff to improve the way they work. Watch this online presentation recording to hear about work with women on probation called Empowering Change: Working Well with Women.

Women with lived experience were directly involved in the development of the learning material. In addition, the materials are also based on evidence that a gender-informed approach is more effective than generic approaches in rehabilitating and addressing the sometimes complex needs of women.

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Since September 2022 St Giles Wise have been running a series of Perspectives on Probation Talks to give probation practitioners insights into the perspectives and insight people with lived experience of probation can bring to service delivery.

This special series of 4 talks provides insights from four groups of people who often feel marginalised: Women, Transgender, Ethnic Minorities and People with Disabilities.

These 20-minute talks provide probation professionals with unique insights from our Experiential Advisers experience of their journey through the criminal justice system.

Please select subtitles/closed captions when viewing if required.

Since September 2022 St Giles Wise have been running a series of Perspectives on Probation Talks to give probation practitioners insights into the perspectives and insight people with lived experience of probation can bring to service delivery.

This special series of 4 talks provides insights from four groups of people who often feel marginalised: Women, Transgender, Ethnic Minorities and People with Disabilities.

These 20-minute talks provide probation professionals with unique insights from our Experiential Advisers experience of their journey through the criminal justice system.

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Transition to Adulthood (T2A) is a project and campaign of Barrow Cadbury Trust’s (BCT) criminal justice programme.

For over ten years, T2A has been making the case for a distinct approach to policy and practice relating to young adults (18-25 year olds) in the criminal justice system.

This recording begins with setting out the development of the Transition to Adulthood work with an overview of the young adult evidence base – exploring how creative approaches can reduce crime, save money, and ensure the best long-term outcomes for young adults.

Following this are some tailored sessions from T2A Alliance partner organisations.

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This session explores how to implement the latest insights from criminology for what works with young adults in the criminal justice system.

Professor Neal Hazel (University of Salford) introduces recent research developments in understanding pro-social identity and desistance with young people. With Simon Jarvis (HMPPS) and Gemma Buckland (T2A), participants explored lessons from a current HMPPS project operationalising this research in Greater Manchester prisons.

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This recording provides professionals from across the criminal justice system with an opportunity to explore the experiences of young adults in custody. It provides a young adult perspective across a range of themes related to these experiences which have been captured been a fundamental part of a young adult project which has taken place in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.

This includes delving into young adult viewpoints on their needs related to accommodation, health and substance misuse, safety, family, identity and sentence planning. This recordings puts young adult voices at the heart of the work, ensuring their expertise by experience contributes to real system change.

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Aimed at practitioners and policy makers, this recording provides an overview of three years of innovative learning developed by the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms.

Hear an overview of the Commission’s findings, as well as policy and practice-based recommendations aimed at enhancing awareness and understanding of gambling-related crime and harms and developing appropriate policy responses within the criminal justice system. Viewers will hear from key stakeholders, academics, and people with lived experience working on and around the Commission.

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The Women in Justice Insights23 event, held 3 October, brought together MoJ Permanent Secretary Antonia Romeo and HMPPS Director General CEO Amy Rees. They were joined by a panel which included Carlene Dixon (HMPPS Director of Women) and Sarah McKnight (Deputy Director Reducing Reoffending) aimed at exploring the experiences of women working in justice and the support available for their development, and how HMPPS currently supports women in prison. 

Hosted by Gill Attrill (Deputy Director, Insights Group), the event in Petty France drew over 70 participants from various roles across HMPPS and MoJ. But what was their motivation for attending? The opportunity to listen, learn and be inspired by senior women in leadership roles, as well as connect with female colleagues in person. Lily Leeming, a Deputy Lead in Serious and Organised Crime Operations, expressed the empowerment found in the panel’s open conversations in a challenging space where only 18% of SCS are female. 

The panel discussions left a lasting impression. Anna Owen, Head of Radio and Music in Prisons said “I absolutely loved the event. All four speakers were open, unashamedly honest, funny and hugely inspiring. They weren’t afraid to talk about their mistakes and insecurities as well as their successes. It was just so refreshing”.   

Attendees resonated with discussions on overcoming 'imposter syndrome,' turning self-doubt into strength. Brogan King, an MoJ Policy Advisor, found reassurance in the acknowledgment that imposter syndrome is normal and can be used as a tool for personal growth, ‘an edge’ as Antonia described it. It was reassuring to many that imposter syndrome is not the preserve of less experienced grades with Carlene Dixon, acknowledging that “frankly if ever there was a time in my career where I had imposter syndrome it was this - being on the panel with these strong, highly competent and very successful women!”.

Carlene went on to reflect how the event provided reassurance that many women have faced similar challenges, whether related to gender bias or family circumstances. While progress has been made, there was a collective recognition that more work needs to be done, including issues with unacceptable behaviour, and how hard it is to shift this within our culture. She also highlighted the brilliant  “opportunity to talk about women in the CJS, who are amongst the most vulnerable in society, to highlight their different needs and so the importance of doing things differently at times.” Gill Attrill appreciated the reminder of the challenges for women within the justice system, their complexity of need and the distance we still need to travel to offer high-quality services.  

The event also focused on inspiring the next generation of female leaders through coaching, mentoring, and leadership roles. Conversations around career progression, including shadowing opportunities, sparked further engagement. Sarah McKnight welcomed the outreach from colleagues for follow-up discussions, emphasising the importance of creating a community of mutual support. 

The impact of the event was evident in the newfound sense of community and support. Anna Owen expressed her belief that she could reach out to any woman she met at the event for work-related issues. Camilla Glennon, Regional Counter Corruption Lead, found the event empowering and thought-provoking, expressing a wish to bring her entire team for insights from senior females in the organisation. Antonia remarked that HMPPS and MoJ are highly purpose-led organisations with a work ethic characterised by a desire to serve the public and how much she enjoyed participating in panel and hearing the inspirational stories from her senior colleagues. Sarah added that she “felt honoured to be asked and proud to be part of a team that value these events”. Carlene remarked “what a brilliant way to spend an hour at work!”. 

Highlighting the significance of women supporting each other, Helen Seymour, Head of Drug Strategy at HMP Onley, appreciated Antonia's use of a quote from Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State: "There is a special place in hell for women who do not help women."  

Amy Rees noted “I was thrilled to be joined by such inspirational women on the panel and to also see so many colleagues take the time to join this event. It is really important that we take the opportunity to have these honest conversations, not only about how far we have come but also where we need to maintain focus to make HMPPS great place to work for everyone and provide the best services for the women in our care and in turn protect the public and reduce reoffending. I hope everyone who attended took something meaningful away from the event.” 

Even the only male attendee, William Munt, a Band 2 Admin from HMP High Down, found value in gaining a broader understanding of the challenges women face in the workplace. In the words of Antonia and Sarah McKnight, William's presence as the only male ally at the event was indeed "awesome," emphasising the importance of a collective effort in fostering a more inclusive and supportive working environment for everyone. 

This year's Insights23 festival was another great success, with over 350 events and 17,000 tickets registered. A huge thanks to all our wonderful hosts from across the criminal justice system, who gave their valuable time to help us provide a vibrant and unique line-up of events for colleagues.

Thank you to everyone who hosted an event and to the staff who took time away from their busy schedules to take part.

Now the festival is over, we'd like to look back and reflect on a jam-packed fortnight of events, and celebrate some of the innovative, exciting and unique opportunities that the criminal justice community were able to hold; this year's Celebration Document provides a snapshot of some of the 350 events that were delivered over one fortnight in September and October, with images and feedback from staff and hosts.

In the document you'll also find links to blogs written by hosts and attendees reflecting on the events they organised and attended, as well as links to recordings of a selection of some of the festival's online events. Click the button below to view now!

Hosted by the Offender Personality Disorder Pathway (North East), a multidisciplinary team which covers Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland areas. They work in a psychologically and trauma informed way with People on Probation who pose a high and very high risk of serious harm and who screen in and meet the criteria for the pathway.

The OPD Pathway is a jointly funded partnership between His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and NHS England. The team consists of Probation Practitioners (Senior Probation Officers, Probation Officers and Probation Service Officers) as well as a range of Health colleagues (Principal Therapists, Cognitive Schema Therapist, Forensic Psychologist, Occupational Therapists, Higher Assistant Psychologist and Clinical Support staff.

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Join The Wise Group and St Giles Trust as they host a discussion with senior HMPPS management, academics and people with lived experience of the criminal justice systems as they discuss whether the "system" will ever accept that someone is fully rehabilitated.

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Join The Wise Group and St Giles Wise as they bring together thought leaders from the criminal justice system, health and social care sectors along with people on probation to discuss how to leverage lived experience without sticking another label on people.

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Watch six of St Giles Wise's Experiential Advisers as they discuss their journeys through the criminal justice system celebrating what went well but also discussing what could have been better.

The Experiential Advisers also share their thoughts on how bringing the voices of lived experience into the heart of the criminal justice system can improve the design and delivery of services for the benefit of everyone.

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Watch this event recording to gain a better understanding of the role of a Domestic Abuse Safety officer (DASO) within probation and how they support victims and partners of domestic abuse perpetrators.

Gain insight into a 'typical day', the unique collaborative work DASOs have with the BBR (Building Better Relationship Programme) facilitators and how this enhances and supports robust risk management and rehabilitation within the probation setting, and explore the benefits of a multi-agency approach.

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A recorded event presenting the Probation Service's commissioned e-learning platform. 'Community Campus' is an electronic portal that enables people who have an Unpaid Work order issued by the court to access electronic educational and vocational learning. It is a standalone product i.e., it will not link with the Probation Case Management Systems so there is no dependency on other systems or software. Community Campus enables regions to continue to deliver through COVID-19 recovery, poor weather conditions that impact on group delivery, staff sickness or where capacity is impacted by an inability to recruit staff in a buoyant recruitment environment.

The platform also provides anonymous data and analytics which is utilised to review live service delivery and inform and improve future delivery.

Viewers will gain an insight into the benefits to People on Probation of completing e-learning relating to their UPW order and for those seeking to gain employment or improve employment opportunities.

Viewers will learn about the quality service being delivered and at scale and where it differs from other e-learning platforms. The presentation gives an insight into how the analytical data that Community Campus gathers will inform future activity and drive inspirational future aims.

Co-hosted with a representative from the platform developer and host, Meganexus.

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Prisoners’ Education Trust supports people in prison to access distance learning courses and we know that doing a course with PET's support reduces the chance of someone reoffending and increases their chances of finding work.

This recording is a chance to hear from their staff about the courses that Prisoners’ Education Trust offers, how people in prison can apply, the difference that courses can make to individuals, and what staff across the prison service can do to support people in prison to become successful distance learners.

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Since November 2021, Always Hope has been piloting a new support offer to young men (aged 18 to 25) from Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry with care leaver status in HMP Brinsford and HMP Swinfen Hall. The aim was to provide consistent, integrated support in prison and on release to increase their chances of rehabilitation and create a positive future.

In this recording they bring together practitioners from across the West Midlands - from prison, probation and local authority leaving care teams - who share their experience using the Always Hope processes to work together with one particular young person. You will hear how the approach helped support change and working styles as a result of using the Integrated Planning and Assessment protocols from the pilot.

They are joined by a young person who has benefitted from the support of Always Hope, and the Innovation Unit on how they developed and delivered the project, and what is next for Always Hope.

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Katie Light went behind the scenes at Radio Wanno -the multi-award winning prison community radio station for HMP Wandsworth. She tells us about her day and reflections on her own work in resettlement policy. 


I was part of small group given the opportunity to visit Wandsworth’s prison radio station, Radio Wanno. Not only did this sound like an exciting chance to step into the world of prison radio production, but I was keen to learn how this activity supports the rehabilitation of people in prison given my role in Reducing Reoffending policy at the Ministry of Justice.  

The visit showcased the excellent work which goes into the production of Radio Wanno which celebrates its 20 year anniversary this year. Following a tour of the prison radio facilities we discussed the key relationship between education and prison radio that makes this project so successful, honing skills in radio production and media providing a potential springboard into media employment alongside transferable skills such as self-confidence, presentation and working in a team. The day also provided an opportunity to connect with colleagues working across the Criminal Justice System with a shared passion for rehabilitation for people in prison. 

The best part of the day was undoubtedly the opportunity to write, record and produce content for the radio. Partnered with presenters and producers (prison staff and course participants) our challenge was to write an advert no longer than 30 seconds long – surprisingly, more difficult than you think! Our studio skills were then put to the test as we recorded our content which was broadcast live to the prison. It was both humbling and insightful to hear from participants about what Radio Wanno meant to them. One man told me about his goal to pursue a career in music and radio production and it was heartening to hear how the work of Radio Wanno has supported others to realise their potential.  

The day really reinforced the importance of meaningful activity within prisons (and what ‘meaningful activity’ can mean to different people). This is something I will keep at the forefront of my mind in my day-to-day work, particularly as I consider resettlement policy  and how purposeful regimes can support rehabilitation and reduce reoffending. It was exciting to see how the use of technology and the power of creative learning can come together to provide a service for people in prison and provide participants with the specialist skills to pursue a career in radio. I left Radio Wanno feeling energised and inspired (although admittedly, will not be giving up my day job to become a radio presenter!).  

If there’s anything I could share with others it would be this - take up any opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and participate in an event like this one. It’s such a brilliant chance to engage with the frontline, witness the brilliant work that takes place and remind ourselves why we do what we do.  

Madeline Broome shares her reflections on attending an online shared reading event hosted by The Reader for Insights23. 


I attended the Reading in Time event 29 September run by members of staff from The Reader, a national charity that uses the power of literature and reading aloud to transform lives. Reading in Time facilitates shared reading in a variety of environments -in the community, in health and social care settings and also with people in the Criminal Justice System. For over 10 years, The Reader have been supporting people across both prison and probation and currently support weekly groups in more than 30 prisons and Approved Premises across the UK reading plays, poetry, short stories and novels from around the world. 

With this in mind, I wanted to know more about the variety of approaches to engagement with reading which exist in the Criminal Justice System, particularly given my role with the Shannon Trust which supports literacy for people in prison. 

What stood out for me was that the group facilitators clearly use what I consider to be ‘non-educational’ approaches to engaging people in reading. The focus of these groups is the themes of the texts and the thoughts, ideas, opinions and emotions these themes may evoke in readers. The idea is that people engage with the idea of reading, they don’t necessarily have to read aloud during group sessions if they don’t want to. These groups are not about ‘testing’ participants’ reading skills but about demonstrating to participants that reading can be enjoyable.  

The Reader staff aim to create a ‘safe’ space for group members to engage with written texts on their own terms (at least to some degree). The charity describes their groups as offering a space for people in prison to feel safe, and to think and connect in new ways, helping them better understand themselves, and others, resulting in improved wellbeing, and positive changes in thinking and behaviour, which supports rehabilitation. 

I was surprised that these groups are part of, in some instances, the PIPE (Psychologically Informed Planned Environment) programmes run by HMPPS for people in prison who have been diagnosed with personality disorders. This demonstrates the effectiveness of reading in developing empathy and the effectiveness of discussing themes and opinions in developing communication skills. Last year, The Reader and HMPPS published an independent evaluation of their Shared Reading work in PIPES carried out by Professor Alison Liebling and her team at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. 

This was an illuminating and informative session which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I took a newfound awareness of the approaches to facilitating a reading group which The Reader’s staff use which I will try to emulate in the prison settings in which I work.  

Helen Berresford reflects on the importance of maintaining a presence at the Insights festivals year on year.


As seasoned participants in the HMPPS Insights Festival, we at Nacro continue to really value the unique opportunities the festival brings. As a charity committed to rehabilitation and delivering support services across England and Wales, it’s such a great chance to connect with others across the criminal justice system, to learn from others, and to share our own insights.

This year, we offered a wide range of opportunities and experiences across Nacro, from shadowing our frontline teams in CAS-2 services; to seeing firsthand how our prison Departure Lounge at HMP Doncaster provides practical support to people immediately on release; through to delving into the complexities of criminal record disclosure rules with our Criminal Record Support Service. We also hosted online sessions - sharing a preview of our soon-to-be published research into the barriers to identifying ex-service personnel in the justice system, as well as discussing how lived experience drives our policy and campaigning work.

While the Insights Festival is obviously a good chance for us to raise awareness of the work we do as a charity, the real benefit for us is in the connections we make with others and the learning we get ourselves. Hearing the perspectives of colleagues across the justice system, their experiences and expertise is incredibly valuable for our own work. Finding out about new areas of practice; new thinking and new ideas inevitably stimulates more ideas and opens up potential opportunities for collaboration. I know this is also the case for many of my Nacro colleagues who enthusiastically sign up to the many opportunities on offer every year.

In fact we like the Insights festival so much at Nacro we are planning to use the concept ourselves to run a Nacro-wide Insights festival! Our aim is to promote learning and deeper connection across our justice, housing, education, substance misuse and policy and campaigning teams.

Of course the festival couldn’t happen without all the other hosts so a big thank you from us for the commitment and work we know hosts and presenters put into delivering their different events.  The sheer breadth of opportunities is a real testament to the fantastic work going on across the different parts of the justice system and the commitment of the people working in it.  And finally, a big thank you as always to the Insights Team for all the work I know goes into the organisation of the festival. It’s a huge job but one which is well worth the effort.

Hosted Brighton Law School, University of Brighton.

Join Dr Chris Magill, Senior Lecturer, Law with Criminology & Dr Ian Mahoney, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Nottingham Trent University.

Transformative Justice recognises the harms associated with traditional justice systems and seeks to overcome social and structural barriers to promote integration, resilience, accountability and engagement.

This recording will:

This recording will be of particular interest to those in criminal justice/reducing reoffending policy.

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This online event presents a unique opportunity for anyone across the justice sector to hear more about the work of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB).

Members are appointed by ministers to monitor prisons and immigration detention facilities. They are given unrestricted access to these establishments and the individuals held within them and report on whether people are being treated fairly and humanely and whether prisoners are being given the support they need to turn their lives around.

During this recording you will learn about how the IMB’s role as a scrutiny body fits into the wider picture, meet a current IMB member to hear about what the role involves and much more.

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Watch this recorded online event to hear about:

This recording will be of particular interest to all prison staff or wider HMPPS staff who are interested in improving support for Neurodiversity.

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Change Grow Live services based in the North West of England have demonstrated significant improvements in continuity of care rates. Teams have focused on relevant parts of the service user journey, from court experience to sentence planning, to release arrangements and recovery support, but ensuring that the service users voice is heard and that people are at the centre of support and planning.

Using a series of interactive and online experiences, the team demonstrates how they have focused on performance, processes and culture change from across prison and community based services to enhance the service user journey.

Staff can gain an understanding of how some areas doubled their continuity of care rates with opportunities to talk to people involved at an operational level. They will experience what its like to make the supported journey from the prison gate, including engaging with women's specialist services and recovery organisations, and gain an understanding of how humanising the experience can lead to positive results.

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Presented by a team, led by Dr Niko Kargas, Director of the Autism Research and Innovation Centre at the University of Lincoln, this online recording shares findings from an NHS commissioned review of how prisons and prison healthcare in the Midlands are meeting the needs of autistic adults and adults with learning disabilities.

The review including staff questionnaires and input from 93 prisoners across 24 different prisons, highlights:

Staff across prisons, including HMPPS staff and partner agencies, can gain knowledge about

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John Scott, Associate Professor of Health & Life Sciences at De Montfort University chairs a virtual round table event to discuss with a panel of front line staff not only how to survive, but how to thrive in roles such as front line criminal justice work that often involve exposure to potential trauma. Watch now for this exciting interactive and informative session.

Insight and analysis is be provided by internationally acclaimed academic and expert on resilience, Professor Jo Clarke from the Petros organisation. Jo is a regular speaker and trainer, nationally and internationally, on the subject of individual and organizational resilience and has authored a number of chapters and papers on the subject. Committed to life-long learning, she remains abreast of current research and developments in the area, and with her dedicated team, strives do continually develop evidence-based interventions to promote thriving at work and at life.

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Jess Ziae thanks the staff and prisoners at HMP Hull for putting on a great event.  


The PIPE at HMP Hull supports people convicted of sexual offences who have completed intensive therapy and/or interventions. The aim of the unit is to help individuals to consolidate learning and develop relationally, with a view to helping them progress through their sentence. There are often misconceptions about what a Progression PIPE is and what role it can play in someone’s pathway to rehabilitation, so we jumped at the chance to open our doors and share what we do.  

We wanted to promote our service to people working across prisons, probation and criminal justice. I’m sure there are a large number of people in the prison population who would benefit from a Progression PIPE, but due to lack of awareness, often miss the opportunity.  

Both staff and prisoners got together as a team and set up a committee in charge of putting together the day’s programme. The committee wanted to showcase what the PIPE offers, by providing opportunities for visitors to explore the different ways we help support the prisoner's development. Crucially, it was felt that most of the day should be delivered by the prisoners themselves, providing insight into their lived experiences (without providing offence details).  

For example, we featured: 

I’m pleased to say that feedback from attendees has been really positive:  

“The event provided real insight into this valuable resource, illustrated by the testaments of the [prisoners].” 

“...an interesting and inspiring event.” 

“...offered real insight into how a PIPE can support prisoners... was definitely an experience I will recommend to colleagues.” 

Whilst the open day was an opportunity to promote the unit’s incredible work, what the PIPE prisoners themselves took away from this event should not be overlooked.  

It gave them an important opportunity to develop capabilities in organisation, budgeting, prioritisation, public speaking, and being in a group of unfamiliar people which are all important skills for the workplace therefore, reducing reoffending. These can all feel overwhelming to some, but with support, can also help to develop purpose, confidence, and positivity for the future:  

Prisoner feedback includes:  

“I felt emotional and it’s a big leap for me to talk in front of others, but it shows I’ve now got trust, thanks to PIPE. The support from others when I was struggling during my talk is what PIPE is all about.”  

“I’ve experienced a lot while on the PIPE, but activities like the open day have helped me develop confidence, empathy, understanding, and listening skills - this place focuses you and helps you stay focused”. 

“It was good to see so many people coming to see us and listen to us, and care about our experiences and the journey we have to go through”. 

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the staff and prisoners on the unit, as this was a big undertaking which required a lot of planning and organisation. However, as you can see from the feedback from attendees and the prisoners on the unit, it was well worth it, and we look forward to holding similar events in the future.  

Melanie Pearce (Head of Organisational Change, Probation Change), Laura Dunn (Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Probation Wales), and Claire Presley (Human Factors Programme Manager), reflect on sharing their learning and feedback through their online event at Insights23.


One of the things we all have in common is thinking errors! These are essential for our survival and most of the time serve us well. But when we are stressed, work in complex environments or with high workloads, they can be counterproductive. This is a lesson we can take from Human Factors. Human Factors is a multi-disciplinary science established in many industries worldwide, and some UK Government departments, where safety is critical.

A culture of safety where people feel safe to report mistakes and seek to understand and learn from them is essential. Focusing not just on how we are instructed to do things, but also on how we actually do them, is critical in understanding why failures occur and how we can avoid them in future. This can help develop error wisdom, reduce the severity of errors by identifying risks before they cause harm, accepting that we will never eradicate error as humans will always make mistakes.

Insights23 provided a great opportunity to engage with colleagues across the Criminal Justice Sector about the Human Factors evidence base, learning from other safety critical industries, and how we have applied it to Probation Service operations, through the Learning Organisation Approach in Wales Probation. Insights23 gave us the opportunity to share our learning, early findings and indications of success and impact, and feedback from colleagues.

The learning organisation approach

Our approach is underpinned by Human Factors principles and developed for the Probation Service to enable an open learning culture. It has five strands:

Tools are designed to overcome thinking errors, promote psychological safety, and develop healthy workplace behaviours. They include structured communication tools to capture risk and improve communication. Two further applications are purpose built to address the operational complexities of the Probation Service, whilst remaining true to the evidence base, which:

Over the last 12 months we have implemented the approach across all operational and non-operational teams and at all levels in Wales Probation.

Early feedback from Wales Probation

Introducing the approach has helped us drive a positive culture with learning at its heart.  We encourage learning when things go wrong and celebrate successes, sharing learning across the region.  A predictable structure is now in place for teams to have good quality, solution-focussed discussions with their line managers.  This drives professional autonomy,, and ensures everyone has a voice. It also creates time and space for our middle leaders and has played a key role in managing business risk, increased reporting of risks/near misses​ and swift identification of practice concerns.


We have had some very positive feedback from colleagues: 

"The quality of the management conversations are so much better" - Senior Probation Officer

"Protected hour is a massive help for me. Changed my day and made quality of my management interactions so much better" - Business Manager

"Managing the demands on the team and prioritising tasks helps to alleviate stress and anxiety improving overall well-being whilst ensuring we are functioning and responding to critical work" - Probation Delivery Unit Head

"I don’t go straight to my line manager anymore. I think and explore, use my own knowledge, and solve issues. I think my manager appreciates that; they aren’t always having to be interrupted for non-emergency issues" - Probation Practitioner

"It doesn’t take away the ‘workload’ or ‘pressure we feel’ but it makes it more transparent" - Probation Practitioner

"It’s injected an energy into staff...Highlighting the importance of teams speaking the truth and owning mistakes...Mangers and leaders providing a safe non-judgmental space to empower staff" -Department Head

"I’m making better safer decisions. I can understand the case issues better"- Senior Probation Officer


The work in Wales has generated significant interest from within the Probation Service, Headquarters, wider HMPPS, and our regulatory body. Our event was designed to complement Professor Sanjay Bhasin’s: The Benefits of HMPPS Becoming a Learning Organisation.

Next Steps 

We expect the evaluation to conclude in March 2024. We intend take the approach to another probation region before considering wider roll out. 

More information

An example of Human Factors in health care: The measurement and monitoring of safety - The Health Foundation 

Jennifer Drew reflects on a very popular event.


Have you ever thought about what happens when a prisoner dies in custody or just after release? Or what happens when a prisoner is unsatisfied with the outcome of a complaint? 

That’s where the PPO comes in, an Arms-Length Body that carries out independent investigations into: 

At Insights23 we gave our colleagues in the Criminal Justice System the chance to become a PPO investigator for a day. Just like at Insights22, they grasped the opportunity, and tickets sold out quickly. 

During the day, the delegates gained a broad understanding of the workings of the PPO – from the evolution of the organisation over time, to its investigations and how we manage the challenges of interacting with bereaved families, prisons, prisoners and wider stakeholders.  

The event gave us the opportunity to share information and build engagement around the PPO and the work we do, while allowing colleagues from across the criminal justice system the chance to get stuck into some of our investigations. It brought the work of our investigative functions to life as delegates had the opportunity to meet and interact with our investigators and other PPO staff face-to-face.  

This also provided our investigators with the opportunity to share not just the what of our day-to-day work, but the how and the why. It allowed us to show delegates how we learn and develop from our work by rigorously analysing and interrogating the data we gather to inform our strategic goals. 

Some examples of the difference we make are:   

We also took the opportunity during the event to provide delegates with a snapshot of the research we undertake behind the scenes of our core investigative work. We shared information about how we learn from our investigations, how we share those lessons with stakeholders, how we contribute to policy change, and examples of publications we have produced to share that knowledge with our wider stakeholders.  

We knew we had a good event on offer, but what surprised us was the delegates’ desire to get as much from the day as they possibly could, including immediately sharing it with their colleagues and encouraging them to sign up for future events.  We were also surprised at the number of delegates who expressed a genuine interest in working with us at the PPO.  

For more information on the PPO and what we do please visit our website at www.ppo.gov.uk or email ppocomms@ppo.gov.uk.  

Lottie Porter reflects on their first time hosting a VIP experience for Insights23.  


Oasis Restore in Kent will be the first ever secure school, offering world-leading provision for children in the youth estate when it opens in Spring 2024. Our visit on 30 October provided 10 VIP ticket holders from across the criminal justice sector with exclusive behind the scenes access to the school before it opened.  

The school is still a building site in the final stages of construction, so we had to think carefully about what logistics to prepare for the VIP experience. For example, we had to ensure we had the right PPE for our visitors to wear around the site. But for us as a project team, the planning was worth it. 

We recognised HMPPS Insights was a great opportunity to demonstrate what makes the secure school different, the vision for the school and where lessons have been learned from best practice in existing settings too. It was also an opportunity for Oasis Charitable Trust, the Charity that will run the school, to share their insights and plans about the school’s focus on education, health and care to promote rehabilitation. 

Our VIPs saw the whole facility, from the children’s flats and classrooms to visiting and staff areas. Those familiar with youth custody found it looked and felt very different from traditional young offender institutions they’d been to. This ‘school within prison walls’ represents a revolutionary approach to youth justice that has been many years in the making: the concept was first introduced in Charlie Taylor’s 2016 review before becoming a manifesto commitment in 2019.  

Visitor feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with support for the modern approach that the school is taking to support children in turning away from crime. Visitors had different specialist interests relevant to the school – across placements, safeguarding, construction and probation policy to name a few – which prompted them to ask engaging questions and share their own insight. 

Notably, visitors were impressed by the attention to detail in the very fabric of the building, as one attendee mentioned: “I thought some of the structural changes to the site with windows and the unit space re-purposed looked really good.” New windows and doors were something the project team have been very excited about, so we were delighted they shared our enthusiasm! Brand new to the prison estate, their barless and “secure by design” features are just one example of the detail that has gone into making this provision fit for purpose from inside and out.  

We really enjoyed running the event and relished the opportunity to show colleagues across criminal justice the pioneering work that is taking place here. It’s important those working in related sectors know about the school and how it fits into the wider vision for youth custody, and prisons and probation more generally. Events like these help us build networks of experts who can not only advocate for our project and innovative approach, but also work together with us to continually improve the experience that children have in custody. 

Being asked to host an online session at the Insights23 event was a tremendous compliment and a validation of the work I've dedicated over 25 years of my career to, spanning criminal justice, psychology, and professional wellbeing. My journey has led me to specialise in supporting staff in what we term "Critical Occupations," where individuals knowingly expose themselves to traumatic events, interactions, and materials daily. This description perfectly encapsulates the challenging world of criminal justice work. However, it's essential to understand that being exposed to trauma doesn't automatically lead to Post Traumatic Stress. Research has revealed that there are numerous safeguards and strategies, both organisational and personal, that can minimise the risk and even foster post-traumatic personal growth and self-development among employees.

My commitment to hosting the Insights event was a part of my personal mission to raise awareness about these techniques, improve resilience, encourage self-care, and prompt organisations like HMPPS to embrace this research and work collaboratively to build a stronger and well-protected workforce.

The Insightful Questions

For the session, all attendees were encouraged to submit questions related to well-being and thriving at work. The intent was to provide information that would be not only relevant but deeply meaningful to their roles. It was heartening to see that all the questions submitted were pertinent, thoughtful, and rooted in the very essence of humanity. Equally noteworthy was the attendees' focus on supporting their colleagues rather than solely on themselves. The hour allocated for the session could have easily stretched longer, given the richness of the discussions.

From practical tips on daily support for colleagues to strategies for influencing a complex and ever-changing organization, it was both a challenge and an exhilarating experience to provide comprehensive responses. More importantly, it was immensely gratifying to witness people actively engaging in the development of strategies to enhance their well-being and resilience, understanding that success in this endeavor could lead to improved performance and professional satisfaction.

One attendee's post-session comment, "This was a great insight into the pressures faced by professionals and was a useful mix of theoretical discussion and practical hints and tips. Very interesting and helpful input," captured the essence of our collective efforts.

A Vision for the Future

From my perspective, it would be great to establish regular "phone-in" opportunities for staff to discuss the challenges of thriving in critical occupations. Such a practice could not only enhance staff well-being but also invigorate their energy and performance. Ultimately, this would positively impact the lives of those we aim to support towards living offence-free lives.

Conclusion

The Insights23 event was a reminder of the untapped potential within organisations and individuals to nurture resilience and well-being in critical occupations. The questions raised, the insights shared, and the commitment to supporting colleagues showcased a genuine desire for growth and positive change.

As we move forward, it's my hope that we can continue to engage in such dialogues, fostering a culture of well-being and resilience that not only benefits the professionals who expose themselves to trauma daily but also serves as a catalyst for positive transformation in our communities.

For more information about my work and Petros, please visit our website at www.petros.org.uk.


Professor Joanna Clarke and the award-winning team at Petros are dedicated to delivering evidence-based, highly effective prevention and early intervention mental health support programs. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

We were fortunate to have a number of exclusive events available to staff at the Insights Festival this year, including an exciting opportunity to meet with Sarah Barrett, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister on Home Affairs, at No.10 Downing Street! 11 lucky members of staff were selected at random from over 700 requests and had the opportunity to hear about Sarah’s career journey, ask questions about what it is like to work at the most famous house in Britain, and enjoy a tour of the house and gardens. 

Mitchell Long, Regional Prison Support Lead at the Independent Monitoring Board said “visiting Number 10 was a real privilege and certainly a highlight in the year. It was fascinating to see the places you see on the news in real life and to walk the same halls and stairs as so many figures from British history”.  

Guests commented on how surreal it felt, walking up to the big shiny black door after clearing security and ringing the bell. Lisa Davies, Chaplain at HMYOI Styal, said she was grateful for being granted to have a photo outside, “just to prove that we hadn’t been dreaming and we really had visited No 10 Downing Street!” 

Sitting at the large oak table in Margaret Thatcher’s study, guests enjoyed the opportunity to quiz Sarah about her fascinating role as the liaison between the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and MI5. In return, Sarah was really interested to hear about the roles and experiences of attendees and was genuinely interested in their views on how to improve the Criminal Justice System.  

“Sarah was interested in the challenges we face daily, as well as discussing themes such as recall to custody. It was a very interesting and worthwhile experience” (Lance Bilton, Probation Officer in South East and Eastern) 

“To say it was an insight is an understatement, and the role of the private secretary to the PM is certainly a challenging and daunting one to undertake.  It certainly opened up my eyes to the complexities of managing so many different national organisations” (Caroline Vine, Governor, HMP Whatton). 

Sarah noted that hosting guests as part of the Insights Festival was one of the highlights of the last few months – “Working at Number 10 is brilliant and exciting all of the time, but nothing is as interesting and exciting as actually getting to talk to prison officers, probation officers and HMPPS HQ staff who have first-hand insight of the justice system day in and day out. I quizzed everyone I spoke to on their experiences, particularly on things like recall and short sentences and IPP sentences. I learnt so much more from those few hours than in days and days sat at my inbox. I hope to be able to do it again, and to keep in contact with people!” 

Susan Baron, HMPPS Insights lead for Collaboration with Digital and Data Science, shares her reflections on a thought -provoking morning at the Prison Reform Trust for Insights23. 


I was delighted to attend this event as I have been a long-time admirer of the Prison Reform Trust’s (PRT) work as an independent UK charity working to create a just, humane and effective penal system. I wanted to learn more about PRT’s experiences, hear from their Chief Executive and former prison Governor Pia Sinha, and to connect with other Criminal Justice System professionals. 

I wasn’t disappointed! Pia and her team hosted a full morning explaining their work with lots of discussion over refreshments. I learnt about PRT’s key principle of being independent from Government yet successfully positioning themselves as a critical friend and influencer of penal policy.   

I heard the different ways that PRT influence positive change in prisons including horizon scanning for issues and membership of HMPPS advisory groups on key topics such as the Use of Force and working with the media.   

I and my fellow VIP attendees were educated about PRT’s current campaigns under their 3 key objectives:- 

Reducing the use of prisons

Improving conditions for people in prison  

Promote equality and human rights 

From our discussions, five things stood out for me;  

e.g. the changes to the parole system contained in the proposed Victims and Prisoner’s Bill  

There were some surprises too! 

Keen to capture the thoughts of others, I took the opportunity to ask both the PRT team and my fellow attendees, (including a probation officer, a Director from Clinks and a researcher from York University) two questions; 

Here’s some examples of what they said: 

Attending the event at PRT has strengthened my resolve to continue working in this field and made me think how I stay grounded with people in prisons’ experiences. I also valued connecting with like-minded colleagues. 

Pia Sinha, PRT’s Chief Executive added “It was such a pleasure hosting this event. The team and I got so much from sharing our work with you. The enthusiasm and interest from the group reaffirmed our own commitment to the cause. PRT as a charity does not take any Government funding, please do support our work by becoming a 'friend' of PRT.” 

If you’d like to know more about PRT and the work they do, you can visit their website here

Baylee Hills reflects on “Experience a Morning on Community Payback’ on 4 October hosted by Swindon Community Payback Unit. 


Navigating the daunting five pronged ‘magic roundabout’ on the way into Swindon, I found the yard and Porta-Cabin tucked away on the path to the cricket ground. Before the event, I’d conjured images of people in orange jumpsuits like Stanley Yelnats from the movie 'Holes,' mindlessly digging in a misguided attempt at character-building. However, the reality of community payback was a lot different and had much more to it than I anticipated. 

There were only three visitors, but our collective curiosity resulted in a barrage of questions, enough for at least twenty. Our hosts guided us through the induction for newcomers on their first day of community payback. We delved into the purpose, and expectations (and the consequences of non-compliance), and the type of work done during sentences. 

What I learned that day was eye-opening.  

CP may indeed have some elements of litter-picking and controlled digging. But it's not aimless, more like groundskeeping or horticulture and its ultimate goals stretch beyond mere punishment. It offers opportunities for positive changes in communities, and for participants, access to training and skills development to improve employability. 

The CP supervisors have a really demanding task striking the right balance between ‘visible’ projects but with tangible improvements to local communities while also providing opportunities for people to learn new skills or employability. It’s not easy at all!  

I learned that sometimes those on CP are verbally abused by the public. So, I was glad to hear how the staff look out for the wellbeing of those on community sentences and ensure the work adds to rehabilitation as well as punishment.  

We explored the yard and facilities and I saw the pride they took in their woodwork shed and cultivating fresh produce. Swindon uniquely offer work on site tending the local cricket ground, working in the wood workshop, and upcycling school benches. They also redecorate faith spaces, do grounds maintenance for local cemeteries and schools, grow salad boxes from seed, and make wooden products for the RSPCA. 

The thing that stood out to me most was the passion and enthusiasm of the staff. I felt really inspired by their creativity and dedication. From salvaging old wood pallets and making the most of their resources, to seeking out new exciting projects. Even in challenging circumstances and navigating complex policies, it is evident they are doing all they can to provide meaningful projects, experiences, skills and support. Building positive relationships and coaching the people who cross their path to make better choices in the future.  

It was a great experience and I feel like I learnt so much and came away feeling reinvigorated and inspired by the passionate staff I met. HMPPS Insight festival is a truly great experience and I can’t wait to see what next time brings.  

Hosts Justin Holmes, David Howlett, and Kevin Uzzell said: “We were thrilled to host our Community Payback Insights23 event. Baylee’s words truly resonate with us, capturing the essence of our work, dedication as a team, and shared enthusiasm for opening our doors to showcase the positive work we do. Insights 23 allowed us to shine a light on the achievements of those on probation and the transformational impact of community service”. 

Paul Wainwright, Operations manager for the Swindon area, added: I am proud to be part of such a dedicated, enthusiastic and committed team. The team clearly took the time and effort to really fulfil and deliver a full experience, that really impacted the audience. It is really good to see that not only was there a focus on punishment, but how we really try to support offenders through rehabilitation and teaching skills to change their lives for the better.” 

Hosted by Dorset HealthCare University Foundation NHS Trust.

Recall is increasing year on year and the vast majority of recalls are due to issues of non-compliance with licence conditions rather than further offending.

Recall is associated with reduced hope and disruption to personal and professional relationships.

This online workshop presented by Dr Jo Shingler, Principal Forensic Psychologist, and Jennifer Stickney, Advanced Occupational Therapy Practitioner, (Dorset IIRMS – Intensive Intervention Risk management Service) will, through personal accounts:

• highlight how recall can undermine rehabilitation and resettlement efforts, and

• discuss innovative clinical efforts to support people post recall and towards re-release

This recording will be of particular interest to probation and prison practitioners working with people:

• who have served long sentences, preparing for release in prison

• in the community to support resettlement

• who are screened into the Offender Personality Disorder pathway,

• received into custody people immediately post-recall, and

• to prepare for re-release

Please select subtitles/closed captions when viewing if required.

Women who use substances face a distinctive set of challenges in accessing and succeeding in treatment, including social stigma, trauma, abusive relationships and a greater burden of caring responsibilities. But what can treatment providers, probation practitioners and other people working with women who use substances do to respond to women's needs?

Centre for Justice Innovation, Staffordshire University and Expert Citizens have been speaking to women in treatment, practitioners and experts in order to better understand the challenges women face in accessing and engaging with treatment and how they can be met.

This online event will:

• share the findings of their research, and

• offer advice on the best way to support women

This recording will be of particular interest to those working with women affected by substance use.

Please select subtitles/closed captions when viewing if required.

'Reducing reoffending' is a simple saying but complex challenge. Watch this online event recording to hear how the YCS is developing practice to improve outcomes for children leading up to and after their release.

From resettlement passports that help children take control of their information, the success stories that comes from release on temporary licences, to how they are introducing the theory and principles of Constructive Resettlement into everyday work for it to become knowledge and standard practice.

The YCS’s Resettlement and Reducing Reoffending team take attendees through all aspects of their work with children and young people at this most crucial point in their rehabilitative journey.

This recording is for HMPPS staff who would like:

• to see how the YCS delivers positive outcomes for children and young people as they transition into their communities

• a clear understanding of how Constructive Resettlement is adopted in the youth estate

• better knowledge of how and why the youth justice system works differently to the adult estate

Please select subtitles/closed captions when viewing if required.

Hosted by Richard Machin, Nottingham Trent University. This online event recording, based on the 'Developing Academic Policy Engagement' (DAPE), and match funded project by the MoJ and Nottingham Trent University explores:

• best practice for policy makers and professionals working in criminal justice and social welfare

• the experiences of people with an offending history who have debt problems

• highlights the complexities of working with people in the criminal justice system

• identifies the most common types of debt accrued, and

• discusses some of the key themes and challenges when working in this area

Viewers will gain an increased knowledge of the complex links between debt and offending, and through a case study reflect on best practice to inform their own work. T

his event is of particular interest to professionals and policy makers working with people affected by debt.

Please select subtitles/closed captions when viewing if required.

Professor Sanjay Bhasin is an accredited senior Operational Excellence practitioner and Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. He currently works as Head of Continuous Improvement for the Probation Service and a Innovation Lead for the MoJ.

In this session, Professor Bhasin shares his wealth of knowledge to explain what a 'learning organisation' means, what the business benefits are, and the organisational criteria that are critical for success. Sanjay uses case studies and examples of implementation successes and failures from external organisations and sets out a potential roadmap for successful implementation for HMPPS.

This session is of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about organisational learning, particularly senior leaders, project leads, managers and those leading and implementing change.

Please select subtitles/closed captions when viewing if required.

Michele Glassup thanks the staff and young men at Feltham for putting on a great event. 


Parkrun can have a hugely positive impact on those in custody. Insights23 seemed a great way to share this across HMPPS, and to encourage other sites to set up their own or support other custodial parkruns in their area. 

On a Sunny Saturday morning on 30 September, we welcomed staff from other prisons, probation, and approved premises to Feltham for our regular parkrun. We’ve invited visitors to our parkrun before, but this was the first one as part of HMPPS Insights. There were 33 finishers including 18 young men from Feltham who ran, jogged, or walked the 5K.  

It was the first time a few of the young men had joined us and they’ve already told me they are looking forward to the next time. One young man had spent several weeks building up to this, his first ever parkrun. I was so pleased to see the amazing support he received and how everyone was so pleased and proud of him when he completed the course. Another 12 young men volunteered to help with timekeeping, marshalling, and handing out finish token positions.  

After the run we spent time in the sports hall with refreshments provided by the kitchens. It was a great opportunity for the young men to speak with the guests about their journeys. Not only how they got involved with parkrun but also how they came to be in custody, and their hopes for a positive future.  

The event was eye opening for all involved. For the young men it was important to know there are members of the community willing to give up their time to come in and join the parkrun. The guests saw first-hand the positive impact parkrun and sport can have not only on physical health but also mental wellbeing.  

Thank you to all those behind the scenes who made a real team effort to put on the event. It wouldn’t have been the success it was without the support of so many departments including:  

We’ve already received positive feedback from several of the guests - all keen to continue supporting us as well as looking at custodial parkruns local to them to get involved with: 

‘’I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the three of you and to other staff and volunteers involved in helping me and other colleagues take part in Parkrun at Feltham on Saturday. I have been in need of a dose of inspiration and seeing the impact that the session had on everyone taking part definitely delivered that!’’
- Member of Probation staff 

A much-valued contributor to the Insights festival, Shakespeare UnBard sees theatre companies and people in prison working together to adapt and perform Shakespeare plays. Richard Lakin visited Shakespeare UnBard at HMP Stafford as part of Insights 2023 and shares his experience watching the group rehearse for their upcoming production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear.   


‘Who is it that can tell me who I am?’ King Lear asks. His booming voice could shake the prison walls. 

‘Shut it,’ a voice calls from outside, but Lear continues undeterred. 

HMP Stafford is a perfect dramatic backdrop for Shakespeare. Towering brick walls are topped by barbed wire and the jangle of keys and chatter of the yard can be heard beneath us.  

The prison dates back to the eighteenth century with majors and captains among the roll call of governors. It houses around 700 men convicted of sex offences undergoing training and rehabilitation. 

Performance workshops are led by Dr Rowan Mackenzie, founder of Shakespeare UnBard, which works in prisons across the Midlands.  

A few of the men taking part have acted or written before while others admit they struggle to utter a few words in the presence of strangers. 

Two of the men – one shy and quiet and another enjoying the chance to share his latest lyrics – discuss the ribbing they get for attending the workshops.  

The quieter man, in his forties, is preparing to give Marc Antony’s speech. He says: “I had no idea what I was signing up to. Some people on the wings think it’s all men in tights prancing about. But it’s really changed the way I think and I’ve gained confidence.” 

“I’ve never done anything like this, but I keep coming back. It works for me.” 

This morning’s session is about the performance of pieces the men have created. These include a comic piece about a critical mother, a Shakespeare-inspired song, an interrogation of Portia, and teenage diary pieces from Juliet. Prison catering gets skewered in a poem pouring scorn on sprouts and flapjack.  

Not all share the confidence of the first performers. One man hesitates, despite encouragement, but later, he’s persuaded up, trembling and short of breath, to complete his lines and his shoulders lift as he’s applauded.  

Rowan knows her work here will receive criticism from some quarters. She points out some of the men are due for release and performing helps their confidence as they seek a job and accommodation.  

“They aren’t locked up here forever. They will return to society and so it’s important we work with them. A prison sentence is the deprivation of liberty, it should never be the deprivation of humanity.”  Supporting people on prison to get a job is key to aiding rehabilitation; for example helping to develop confident speaking in an interview is a role the creative arts such as this can really assist with. 

Rowan claps her hands and calls the men of Emergency Shakespeare (HMP Stafford’s permanent theatre company) together for the afternoon rehearsal of King Lear. Time is tight and, in a few weeks, they will perform it to an audience. She keeps it moving, as some lines are fluffed, the odd entrance late or exit forgotten. 

But it is all coming together and the performance is often intense, viewed from our arc of chairs a few metres away.  

A play chosen by the men is put on every six to eight months, following weekly rehearsals.  

“I might not understand the words, but I get the feeling,” one man says. Another enjoys the rhythm and flow of the speeches. 

As poor Gloucester is blinded in Act Three, a prison officer calls up to Rowan from the yard below to check all is well. 

The swords might be made of papier-mâché, but it’s a creative, spontaneous and lively environment Shakespeare would recognise. 

By Flora Fitzalan Howard, Nicola Cunningham, & Dr Helen Wakeling (Evidence-Based Practice Team, Insights Group, HMPPS) and Jo Voisey (Evaluation & Prototyping Hub, Ministry of Justice)


Changing habitual practices is hard. Even when we want to change, it doesn’t mean that it will happen. If the habit is strong enough, it can override a person’s conscious motivation so that the behaviour occurs without the individual being aware they are doing it.

Layer on top of this, how busy our front-line staff are and how little mental bandwidth they have for anything new you can see why it is so hard to embed new practices. In healthcare, it takes on average 17 years for evidence-based practices to be incorporated into routine practice and only about 50% ever reach widespread clinical use. This evidence to practice gap is common in all public services.

Richard Thaler, renowned behavioural economist and Nobel prize winner says, “If you want people to do something, make it easy.” This is certainly the approach that HMP Buckley Hall took to embed more procedural justice (PJ) into their complaint responses.

When people see the use of authority as being more procedurally just, they are more likely to view authority figures and their decisions as legitimate, leading to greater decision acceptance and compliance with instructions, decisions, and the law. PJ comprises four principles: voice, neutrality, respect and trustworthy motives. There is a body of evidence that PJ improves psychological well-being and reduces prisoner misconduct, violence, self-harm, attempted suicide, and reoffending after release.

Buckley Hall developed a prototype process which involved a reflection workshop on good and bad complaint responses, a template and checklist, a quality assurance process and coaching sessions if required. But did it actually change practice?

Click here to view a PDF copy of the Procedural Justice Practice in Complaints Handling graphic below, and click 'save' in the top right corner to download.

The Evidence Based Practice Team, HMPPS and Evaluation and Prototyping Hub, MoJ joined forces to investigate. Using a novel approach, which enabled the team to quantify the amount of PJ language present, they were able to show that it increased the amount of all four principles in complaint responses over 12 months.  You can access that research report here. But the key question was ‘Could this produce the same results elsewhere?’

Best practice can be difficult to scale as the ‘active ingredient’ that makes a process work can be the drive and enthusiasm of the individuals involved. Especially when they have developed the idea as they are more motivated to make it work.

The team ran a ‘Randomised Control Trial’ with the staff at HMP Featherstone as they wanted to improve their complaints handling following a recent HMIP report. A RCT is the most robust form of evidence that gives researchers confidence that change X caused Y outcomes.

At a lock down day, one group of staff were trained in the new process and then the amount of PJ in their complaint responses were compared to a group of staff who hadn’t been trained. To strengthen the confidence in the results, this process was repeated: half of the group of staff who hadn’t been trained received training at the next lock down day and were compared with the remaining untrained staff.

In both time periods, there were positive changes in the amount of PJ content in the complaint responses for all four principles. The biggest change was the amount of prisoner voice in the responses. Staff were asked to speak to all prisoners prior to the reply, refer to that meeting and reflect back what they had head from the prisoner.  You can access the full research report here.

The team also randomly sampled complaint responses from the group trained to see if any changes in practice had continued. In three of the four principles the change had been maintained. But to the surprise of the researchers, the amount of voice present had continued to improve.

Clues to why this happened were found when we spoke to those involved. Seeing the complainant in person before responding and providing quality explanations were most commonly reported as developed through its use, as illustrated by the quotes below from responders:

“…it almost forced the process [seeing the complainant in person] and now it’s just become practice for me and its obviously the right thing to do, but traditionally before when time had been tight…that was the part I missed out.”

And “…not only will I go and see them, but I will follow up my response to see the guy and they seem to accept it much better and so I don’t seem to get a lot of ‘I don’t understand that’ or ‘this is a terrible decision’.”

If you would like to learn more, please contact proceduraljusticeenquiries@justice.gov.uk

Sonia Flynn shares an update on the rollout of the internal professional register for probation practitioners.    


Over the years there has been a call to celebrate our qualifications, skills and experience which define the unique role probation practitioners hold in the criminal justice system. We have consulted widely on the best way to recognise the competence and commitment of all probation qualified staff to high standards of professionalism and there has been significant work carried out to get the systems ready.

We want registered probation professionals to carry the same prestige as other important professions in the public service. Our professional register also provides assurance to HMPPS, government and our stakeholders/partners that those individuals authorised to assess and manage the risk of people on probation have the right qualifications, knowledge and skills to do so. 

We are approaching this in phases and have already rolled out the first phase to ​senior probation officers and probation officers in courts and sentence management, and approved premises managers and area managers. This initial phase is just the beginning for the professional register which will be expanded further to recognise a broader range of roles carried out by qualified probation professionals. We have launched professional standards, specific to probation practitioners, and continue to build awareness of them, particularly in relation to continuous professional development and its importance in delivering excellence in our service. 

Following the successful launch of phase one of the professional register, I am pleased that we will share our policy development journey through two interactive sessions at the Insights23 Festival on Tuesday 26 September (16:00-17:00), and Wednesday 4 October (10:00-11:00). You can book your tickets here

For further information you can visit our intranet page or email us.

This year, we are excited to welcome HMCTS colleagues to the Insights Festival, showcasing some of the work being done across the Courts and Tribunals Service and giving Festival attendees behind the scenes access to some of the most important and interesting parts of the Criminal Justice System.

Events organised by colleagues in HMCTS include:

We encourage all our colleagues in HMCTS to browse this year’s schedule of over 350 events and sign-up for as many opportunities as they can get to, covering all areas of the Criminal Justice System over the two-week festival.

Nick Goodwin, CEO HMCTS had this to say about the Festival: “I am delighted that HM Courts & Tribunals Service are taking part in Insights23 this year. Not only is it a great opportunity for HMCTS colleagues to share knowledge with our justice partners – celebrating and showcasing our work whilst highlighting the many different roles across the whole organisation - but it also allows us to connect, discover and learn more about innovation across the wider Criminal Justice System.”

If you would like to see how HMPPS works with HMCTS on the ground, why not shadow a Court Duty Officer at Derby Justice Centre?

Head over to the Festival events page to browse and book Insights Festival event places.

In the meantime, take a look at what is involved in a ‘day in the life’ of a Circuit Judge, District Judge and Tribunal Member:


The Samaritans Listener scheme is an award-winning peer support service which exists in almost all prisons in England and Wales.

Now in its 32nd year, Samaritans volunteers recruit, train and support people in prison to provide an emotional support Listening service to their peers. 

Charmaine Best discusses the reach and benefits of the programme.


The Listener scheme provides a lifeline to many people in prison. In 2022, prison Listeners supported almost 30,000 conversations with their peers. People in prison ask Listeners for help about a range of issues, often mental ill health, worries about family on the outside, bullying, prison debts and homelessness, to name a few. 

At Samaritans, we know people in prison are six times more likely to die by suicide, than someone in the community because of environmental factors, including:  

Listeners are recruited jointly by prison staff and Samaritans and undertake training provided by Samaritans volunteers. Training covers numerous topics such as safeguarding, the Listening Wheel, preventing self-harm, mental health and bereavement. The core skills of being a Listener include being non-judgemental, honesty and the ability to show empathy. 

Listeners are continually supported by Samaritans volunteers who provide at least fortnightly support meetings to Listeners. During these meetings Listeners are assisted with any difficulties that may have arisen and is an opportunity for Listeners to debrief on the calls they have facilitated.  

The Listener scheme is effective in reaching people in prison at high-risk of suicide, provides relief to people in times of need and can help to create a calmer prison environment.  

“When I first came to prison, it was scary and a bad time of my life. I asked for a Listener during a time I was considering suicide. He was there and listened, helped me unburden and I am still alive! Thanks.”  - Caller to the Listener scheme. 

In a recent survey, 58% of Listeners felt better staff awareness and understanding of the scheme would help to increase the support Listeners were able to offer people in prison. 

Building upon the Listener scheme, in 2022 Samaritans launched our ‘Postvention’ service to all adult HMPPS (His Majesty's Prison and Probation Service) prisons. Postvention supports prison communities (including people in prison and staff) following a suicide within their establishment. This involves Listeners and Samaritans volunteers being available to respond to those who need our help.  

As part of insights23, why not click here and join our Online conference on the 5 October at 1pm to learn more about the Listener scheme, the benefits it can provide to your prison, and how you can help run a successful and safe Listener scheme.  

Kim Thornden Edwards discusses the importance of cross-cutting learning programmes such as Insights23 in supporting probation professionals to become more effective.  


As a senior leader in the Probation Service, I have had the privilege of witnessing the incredible dedication and hard work of professionals within our organisation. However, it is crucial to recognise that our efforts are just one piece of a much larger mosaic that forms the wider criminal justice system. The effectiveness of our work relies not only on our internal departments but also on the strength of our external partnerships. In this blog I want to emphasise the importance of collaboration and learning and to shed light on the Insights23 festival as a valuable opportunity for growth and connection. 

As professionals our journey of development should never cease. In the dynamic landscape of criminal justice, staying informed about emerging best practices and research is essential. The Insights23 festival offers a wealth of learning opportunities and provides a front-row seat to see the skills and talents of our peers and external partners in action. By actively participating in the festival's events, we also open a door to our own exceptional work and inspire others with our own practice. 

During my time as a practitioner, I quickly came to recognise that I was not an expert on everything and nor did I have the time to be. So, knowing what help and expertise was available out there was very important. Seeing great results for the people I worked with because of referrals I made was hugely satisfying and allowed me to focus on my primary task as a Probation Officer which is to protect the public. 

By seeking partnerships and working collectively with external agencies, we can leverage their expertise and resources to enhance the outcomes we achieve. The insights23 festival provides an ideal platform for networking, forging relationships, and discovering innovative approaches from other partners in the criminal justice sector. 

Great learning opportunities catching my eye this year include, Suicide Risks in High-Risk Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse presented by The Drive Project, and A Biopsychosocial Model for Effectively Managing Risk; A Bespoke Community Approach presented by the OPD (Offender Personality Disorder) Pathway Team in the North East.  

Don’t forget, I am also looking forward to welcoming some of you personally to Manchester as part of the festival for some tea and a discussion about the current and future direction of the service. I look forward to a positive conversation. Apply for a ticket by clicking here!  

One of the greatest rewards as a senior leader is witnessing the recruitment of talented individuals into our profession. To our new colleagues, I urge you to take full advantage of the Insights23 festival. Engage in conversations, build connections, and seize this opportunity to learn, share, and connect. But insights23 has something for everyone and there is much to gain for even the most seasoned practitioner. 

Insights23 runs from 25 September to 6 October. Find out more and get involved by clicking this link

Chief Operating Officer for Prisons, Michelle Jarman-Howe tells us about Insights23 and highlights just a selection of events on offer to support staff working in our prisons.


Maybe you’ve heard about the HMPPS Insights festival but not sure what it’s all about? Insights23 is a festival of learning led by peers, where our staff and partners generously contribute their time, resources, and professional networks to bring you exclusive and exciting opportunities. Whether you're in England, Wales or want to attend online, we've got something for you happening during the festival which runs from Monday September 25th to Friday October 6th

There are lots of different events on offer during the festival, whether it’s developing skills relating to prison roles or an opportunity to do something completely different within the Criminal Justice System.  Here are a few examples which might resonate with you; 

Do you, are you, have you? 

Much more on offer 

Above is just a small selection of over 350 events on offer for this years’ festival and they are all free to attend. Why not take a look at the website - you can see what’s on in your region or search by theme. 

Events are a mix of face to face and online but you need a ticket to attend.  Most events are first come, first served so take a look now and get your ticket before they go. If you'd like a chance to attend one of our exclusive 'VIP' events, simply register your details by August 23rd, 2023. We will conduct a random draw on September 1st to determine the lucky recipients. 

Still not sure? 

How about talking to those at the top making the decisions and share your thoughts? 

Invite Phil Copple, Director General Operations to come to your site or office, see the work you do and have an open conversation. Or you could shadow me on a site visit to an establishment. How about being part of a small group to meet our CEO, Amy Rees? You can even apply to go Inside No 10 Downing Street. 

Please do take a look now and join us at the Insights Festival 2023 and be part of an enriching and inspiring experience that celebrates our work across the Criminal Justice System. I look forward to seeing you there!

Helen Wakeling, from HMPPS Evidence Based Practice Team talks us through developing a measure for perceptions of Procedural Justice in Probation.

Procedural justice (PJ) is all about making sure people feeling they are being treated fairly. It is not about changing the outcomes of decisions, but paying attention to the way in which decisions and processes are explained.  When people feel decisions are made fairly they are more likely to trust authority figures, respect the rules and follow them whether or not the outcome is in their favour. 

In the last few years there has been lots of research on this in prisons. This shows that when people in prison feel treated in a procedurally just way this is linked to lower levels of violence, better well-being and lower reoffending after release. 

Safely managing people on probation supervision also relies on their compliance and cooperation with the rules and requirements of the sentence. But there has been less research on PJ with people under supervision in the community. 

To address this gap in understanding, the HMPPS Evidence-Based Practice Team have recently done some research focusing on PJ in probation. 

We created a PJ scale using 9 items from the Your Views Matter Survey. This is a survey routinely asking people on probation for feedback about probation services. We used data from 2018 on around 18,000 men and women aged 18 or over, who were under supervision in the community in England and Wales. 

Using this PJ scale, we were able to explore the link between perceptions of PJ, the characteristics of the sample, and their experiences of probation.

We found that when people on probation felt that processes were applied and decisions made fairly, they also reported:

We were pleased that we can use this existing feedback from people on probation to bring fresh insights on our practice without having to ask anyone for further data. 

But what does this mean for staff working with people on probation?

This research emphasises that focusing on what matters most to people, and future orientation seems to be particularly significant in improving perceptions of PJ.

There were also differences in PJ perceptions based on the characteristics of the sample.  For example, we found better perceptions of PJ for people on probation who were older, and those who were on licence.

We also found that people who were on probation for the first time (compared to those who had experienced probation before), and people who felt the amount of contact with probation was right, also had better PJ perceptions. 

So, this research demonstrates the importance of PJ in probation. It also highlights there is more work for us to do to understand and enhance PJ perceptions, perhaps particularly minority groups, younger people and those who have previous experience of probation sentences.

To improve perceptions of PJ in probation, staff can:

By definition procedural justice is in the eye of the beholder – we need to keep checking in that the people over whom we have authority see us using that authority equitably. This new scale brings us a fresh opportunity to keep this important aspect of our work more routinely under review and will help us recognise and reinforce great practice as well as areas where we will want to do more.

To find out more about this research, go to:

Examining procedural justice perceptions in probation in England and Wales - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

or contact evidence@justice.gov.uk.


How thinking like a High Reliability Organisation can help


Two years ago, I joined the HMPPS High Reliability Organisations (HRO) Team.  You might think, “what is High Reliability, and what has that got to do with working in HMPPS, Civil Service or the Criminal Justice Sector?” Initially, I didn’t appreciate its relevance but my mission was to understand how it could be used in our setting and support a pilot of activities in prisons and HMPPS headquarters. Two years later I’m still amazed at the journey our small team has been on and the scope for positive change that High Reliability can give us.

What is a High Reliability Organisation?

A high reliability organisation is one that has succeeded in avoiding catastrophes in an environment where normal accidents are expected to occur due to risk factors and complexity.

Have you ever wondered, when you go to hospital, why you’re asked the same few key questions by each different professional?

And did you know that when a plane takes off, the pilot completes the same standardised checklist that is used across the world?

These are both examples of how these industries have reduced errors by using High Reliability thinking. The approach seeks to learn from failures and errors, without seeking to blame.

Fundamentally, High Reliability organisations focus on:

In HMPPS we often face complex issues which need breaking down into smaller parts to understand how to deal with them effectively. Using High Reliability approaches to tackle problems and errors can lead to benefits, including more efficient use of resources; joined-up thinking; consistent delivery; and standard ways of delivering and communicating.

High Reliability organisations embrace systems thinking, viewing problems as a collection of interconnected parts which interact and change. The approach also embraces people and how they work as part of that system too, rather than people being independent of the process itself.  High Reliability organisations are mindful that people are different and how this can affect delivery and outcomes.

Using systems thinking means understanding that we and our work sit within a system, not outside it. If we change one part of a system, we are likely to indirectly, or directly, affect another part. That means we need to identify and engage with others in the system and build a shared understanding to ensure the changes we make are coherent and likely to succeed.

This thinking places safety at the centre of everything we do, building and evaluating delivery systems that work  to reduce errors.

The High Reliability Pilot

We took on three different challenges:

  1. Acknowledging the significant organisational and public protection risks that exist when we are unable to deliver effective sentence management, we led a Headquarters pilot to better understand the complexities of sentence calculation processes and information flows across the criminal justice system. We provided support and tools to assist Offender Management Units, introduced enhanced training, professional accreditation for Case Management practitioners, and have trialled the introduction of digital services to increase accuracy and improve efficiency.
  2. In prisons we tested a new residential wing Checklist Briefing to improve how risk and safety-based information is communicated within teams during handovers. We created and tested the briefings in real operational settings to ensure staff were central to their development and that issues important to them were embedded. The approach also allowed for the escalation of risks in a quicker manner, meaning that our leaders were able to address safety related problems before they resulted in harm.
  3. We looked at increasing systems thinking capability for operational and HQ staff as a way of achieving High Reliability. This was the most fascinating challenge for me - looking at error and how we currently manage it. Error is often linked to blame, and that culture stops us really understanding the root causes of why errors occur, and this can prevent us from embracing an open learning culture in HMPPS.

Learning from other industries that use a systems-based approach to problem solving, we have developed learning materials and a Systems Investigation Toolkit for staff*. It provides information, advice and practical application for taking a systems approach to understanding problems or investigating incidents. The toolkit will help staff across HMPPS to develop a systems led approach to understanding what went wrong and why. Our work was peer reviewed by international members of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors who lead the way in this field.  

What’s next?

Supporting our managers to use System Thinking is important to solve work-place problems, reduce error and work more consistently. We are building Systems Thinking into development programmes for managers and leaders. Our next challenge is to develop our understanding further to inform future operational delivery models and estate delivery reviews.

HMPPS isn’t travelling down this pathway in isolation. Many other government departments and public service bodies are also exploring better outcomes through consistent delivery, and this could be equally as useful for any organisation working in a complex system such as criminal justice. A good starting point for anyone interested is: An introductory systems thinking toolkit for civil servants - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Please also feel free to contact me if you would like to find out more: HighReliability@justice.gov.uk

*HMPPS staff can find the toolkit on the HMPPS Intranet by searching 'Solve an issue using Systems Investigation'


Paula Gilbert is Project Manager – Resource & Process Group, Transforming Delivery Directorate (HMPPS): HighReliability@justice.gov.uk.

Insights proudly presents a recording of the third of our thematic online events relating to Young Adults in HMPPS from 20th March 2023.

This recording is for colleagues across Prison, Probation, Youth Custody Service, Youth Offending Teams, and community support services. It promotes the Transitions Policy Framework and the new transitions process, focusing on:

- the supporting evidence

- what best practice looks like, and

- what adult prison establishments must do to be ready for full implementation

Hosts Lisa Short, National Young Adults Team Lead for HMPPS and Lauren Brothwood, Head of Placements, Casework and Transitions for YCS, are joined by panel members from:

- the HMPPS Evidence Based Practice Team

- Probation

- Youth Custody Service

- HM Prisons

- HMPPS Young Adults Team

- Directorate of Security

- Women’s Directorate

- Transition 2 Adulthood Alliance, and

- Youth Justice Board

- Alan Scott, Executive Director for Public Sector Prisons North and Debra Baldwin, Deputy Director for YCS will deliver keynote messages.

Watch now to:

- hear about the development of the new transition process

- understand the lived experience and impact on Young Adults and staff, and

- familiarise yourself with what you need to do to prepare to implement the policy framework in prisons.

At the end of the recording is a question and answer session.

Insights Group’s Carmel George reflects on a well spent summer’s day in wellies after joining HMPPS (Rehabilitation and Care Services) Sustainability Lead and volunteers, restoring a wildlife pond at HMP Send.


In 2021 I spent all my free time reclaiming my garden - its wildlife glimmering with shy slow worms, newts, frogs, and hedgehogs; and a patch of native lesser celandine. Having been inspired by similar Insights 22 sustainability events, I jumped at the chance to help celebrate wildlife sustainability and bio-diversity in HMPPS by spending the day with volunteers at HMP Send.

It didn’t disappoint. It was a sunny day and I loved working on the land with energetic and enthusiastic colleagues. We were an interesting group from all sorts of workplaces - MoJ, Defra, the Judicial Office – as well as HMP Send staff and prisoners. Angela from ARG UK kept watch and cared for any amphibians and reptiles (frogs, to me) that we disturbed during our work.

When I arrived at HMP Send, I met a prisoner working on grounds maintenance who welcomed the pond plan, saying that, "it’s a lovely spot, but it’s all drained and overgrown now".

We met Bea from HMPPS Sustainability in the car park. Navigating reception with our work gear was a smooth process, as we were all on a list, and we were escorted through zoning to the pond.

There were too many of us for pond duty, so some were deployed to clear annuals or weeding. Everyone who walked past was pleased to see us working and encouraged or advised us. Farms and gardens staff helped by taking our rubbish away.

So, what were my takeaways from the day?:

1. I’ve visited HMP Send a few times in previous jobs. I’ve always considered it to be a small prison, because of the number of cells, but it is rich in land, planting, gardening space and opportunities to improve sustainability and restore biodiversity. There is evidence that greenspace outside prison walls has a positive effect on prisoner wellbeing, and I hope it makes a more pleasant working environment for our staff too, who have a very challenging job. HMP Send is just one of many prisons making the most of their green space.

2. You can’t be formal in rough outdoor weather appropriate clothes and sturdy shoes, boots or wellies, and everyone we met was kind and welcoming. We were working, so we were part of HMP Send’s regime that day. It was a great familiarisation visit.

3. At home, my neighbour’s bamboo has invaded my garden, and at HMP Send, the roots of a small clump in a shady corner had spread to attack the border coping and the tarmac path beyond. Bamboo grows like mad; don’t plant it unless you have the time and energy to supervise it!

4. Everyone helped – as the day wore on, the work party grew. Staff and prisoners joined us after activities to get the job done.

5. I loved my sustainability day with HMPPS and fellow volunteers, and I'm grateful to the Insights programme to have had the opportunity. I received a warm welcome, challenged myself, had fun and took away some ideas to use at home. And all the while I was part of HMP Send prison for a day, not just a spectator.


For more information about Embedding sustainability on the MOJ estate, see: Ministry of Justice and the environment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Carmel George works in Insights Group supporting the Correctional Service Advice and Accreditation Panel (CSAAP), a wide pool of academics and expert practitioners who give HMPPS evidence-based advice on a wide range of topics relevant to prisons and probation in England and Wales.

Insights were proud to join with the Foreign National Offenders (FNO) Information Hub in celebrating the first anniversary of their launch. This event on 28th October 2022 recognised the Hub's growth, it's impact on HMPPS and Home Office staff, and the plans for the future. Host Sharmila Rajaratnam (HMPPS FNO Operational Delivery Lead - Prison) was joined by:

- Tammie Hay (Head of Resettlement, HMP Maidstone)

- Michele Louden (Head of Immigration Prison Teams, Home Office)

- Lucy Peates (FNO and Drug Strategy Lead, HMP Wales)

- Ellie English and Sophie Lovejoy (HMPPS FNO Information Hub Team)

This event recording is relevant to all colleagues in the Criminal Justice System managing foreign nationals in custody, both FNO speciality prisons and prisons with lower FNO populations, including:

- Keyworkers

- Prison Offender Managers

- Diversity & Inclusion Leads

The event:

- Explains how the hub is designed to support staff with responsibility for supporting and managing FNOs across all prisons, and that the support is often most needed where there are very few FNOs and therefore sometimes less local knowledge and skills

- Shares areas of good practice and:

- Looks at upcoming FNO-specific research and resources

Watch this fascinating Insights event from 10 November 2022, hosted by Debbie McKay, the HMPPS Operational Lead for Care Experienced People in Custody, supported by Lynsey Cobden, National Care Experienced Lead for the Probation Service.

We heard from Charlotte Elliot, Chief Executive Officer from Affinity 2020, who explained their approach to researching how the care experienced brain learns and develops, and how this new knowledge is contributing to developments in this key area of society.

Steven Hawksworth is a Senior Social Worker for Wakefield Council, he sits on national panels for the development of practice such as ‘What Work Well in Social Care’. Steven shared his lived experience of being in the care system from 7-18 years of age.

This event recording will appeal to everyone with an interest in supporting and developing services for care experienced people, understand how this research can be utilised by professionals across the criminal justice sector.

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