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 .