Mayor launches new scheme to cut violence in London prisons
- Prison Pathfinder scheme aims to reduce crime inside and outside jails
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced a package of new measures to help reduce violence in prisons.
The new ‘Prison Pathfinder’ programme – combining enforcement and targeted interventions – is a key part of the Mayor’s public health approach to violence reduction.
The programme will work to address the causes of violence in prisons, driving down violence in prisons as well as in communities, after the end of a sentence.
It will start with a scheme to be introduced at HMP Isis in October funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), followed by investment from London’s Violence Reduction Unit to roll out the programme at Wormwood Scrubs prison later this year.
Assaults in prisons reached a record high over the past year, increasing by 11 per cent across the country to more than 30,000 incidents of assault and more than 3,900 serious assaults – incidents that result in major injury or hospital treatment.
Assaults on prison staff are also continuing to rise to record highs, with more than 10,000 attacks on staff in the past year(1).
The Mayor’s programme will work to address the causes of violence during prison sentences - helping to cut violence in London’s communities.
In HMP Isis, the Mayor’s two-year programme will work with nearly 900 offenders and will include an increased police presence to tackle violence in prison and targeted interventions to support mental health, relationships and build employment skills.
In HMP Wormwood Scrubs, the Mayor’s funding will provide gang screening for all new prisoners, intervening to reduce gang membership by delivering one-to-one sessions for prisoners to help them challenge gang affiliation. There will also be a mediation service for conflicts between prisoners which aims to help individuals understand and address the driving factors behind their violence, and cut the number of assaults.
Across both prisons, the Mayor’s programme will use a trauma-informed model, using an understanding of an individual’s past and current experience of violence to reduce further violence. The programme will also work with black, Asian and minority ethnic prisoners aged 18-29 to understand better the links to violent behaviour as part of the scheme’s work to tackle the underlying causes of violence.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The most effective way to reduce violence in our city is to stop it before it starts. As a result of damaging Government cuts, London’s police and prison services are under huge amounts of pressure and we know that violence in our prisons is at an unacceptable level.
“That is why I am investing in this new programme which will bear down on violence in prisons and reduce the likelihood of violent or aggressive behaviour after a prison sentence. But while being tough on crime, we must be tough on the causes of crime and that’s why we are determined to give those in the criminal justice system the support and the proper life opportunities they need to successfully rehabilitate.”
Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit, said: “Violence in prisons remain unacceptably high and it’s clear we need to be doing much more to provide positive learning opportunities for prisoners to give them a proper chance of turning their lives around. Our funding will provide meaningful interventions to address the causes of violence and help keep London’s communities safe.”
Notes to editors
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime will provide £450,000 to fund the programme in HMP Isis from 2019 to 2021. London’s Violence Reduction Unit will fund £250,000 for the programme to run in HMP Wormwood Scrubs from 2019 to 2021.
- MoJ: Safety in Custody Statistics, published July 2019 - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/820627/safety-in-custody-q1-2019.pdf
In HMP Isis a dedicated full-time police presence in the prison to ensure that serious and violent offences by prisoners are investigated and prosecuted. Lower-level offences such as damaging prison property, and breaches of prison rules will be frequently reviewed by an independent panel, with additional days in custody allocated where appropriate. In order to provide improved rehabilitation support, prisoners will also be given opportunities to develop employment skills, with the chance to become a qualified youth worker, for example.
Across both prisons, as part of the trauma-informed approach, the programmes will provide additional support to prisoners identified as at-risk of violence with group and one-to-one sessions to help them to cope with difficult past experiences and future challenges without resorting to impulsive or aggressive behaviour.