Travelling Fellows highlight international best practice in prison reform

A review of learning from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Prison Reform Fellowships highlights international best practice in penal policy with important lessons for prison reform in the UK. From 2010-2015, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) has funded Travelling Fellowships with a particular focus on prison reform across the world. The Fellowships are the result of an innovative partnership between WCMT and the Prison Reform Trust.

Jessica Jacobson and Helen Fair of ICPR have authored a briefing which highlights some of the learning from these Fellowships. This summary of what Fellows saw on their visits, and subsequent more detailed briefings, are being produced to inform the government's prison reform agenda.

The theme of the first briefing is 'connections'. Many Churchill Fellows visited interventions which seek to forge strong, positive connections among and between individuals, groups and organisations. Family connectionswere the focus of some Fellowships. A number, for example, reviewed interventions aimed at helping people in prison to maintain their family relationships, either through specific programmes or facilities for family visits to prisons; or providing practical and emotional support to family members of prisoners.

Many Fellows visited interventions seeking to harness the power of peer relations towards positive goals, including peer court programmes, the use of restorative approaches, and peer mentoring initiatives. Other Fellows explored problem-solving approaches to criminal justice, including holistic, multi-disciplinary work with children in custody; problem-solving courts working with dependent drug users, those with mental health problems, and the homeless; and collaborative working between the police and mental health services.

The building of a sense of self and responsibility was central to some interventions visited by Fellows. Some Fellows looked at arts and media projects providing opportunities for people who might otherwise have little voice to express themselves and thereby to reach out to others.

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An Evaluation of the 'What Works Centre for Crime Reduction' Year 2: Progress

This research, conducted by researchers at the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, University of London, has been undertaken as part of a programme of work funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, in collaboration with the College of Policing (the College), as part of the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction (WWCCR). The programme draws upon international good practice to build on and enhance the UK's capacity to develop, disseminate and apply evidence-based approaches to policing and crime reduction. The programme of work, involving staff at the College and a consortium of UK universities, includes the development of a series of systematic evidence reviews on crime reduction topics, the creation of a standard system to rate interventions in terms of their effectiveness and cost-savings, and training programmes to enhance professionals' capacity and skills to appraise research evidence.

The Year 2 evaluation report reviewed the progress of the WWCCR in mapping and building the evidence base and assessing the mechanisms through which this evidence is being disseminated, promoted and embedded within the police service. The report presents findings from: in-depth interviews with those responsible for producing and developing the research products as well as a range of end users; two in-depth case studies of officers (evidence champions and high potential development scheme officers) who are well-placed within their organisations to promote and disseminate research knowledge; and a mapping exercise of the products and activities of the WWCCR and related hubs of evidence dissemination (e.g. the Police On-line Knowledge Area, the Knowledge Bank, and the Crime Reduction Toolkit).

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Key Findings from the Understanding and Preventing Youth Crime survey in England and Scotland

ICPR has produced  two new summary booklets with key findings from England and Scotland for the international comparative survey, "Understanding and Preventing Youth Crime" (UPYC).

Between September 2014 and December 2015, secondary school pupils aged 12 to 16 in the cities of Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh represented the UK - 900 pupils in England and 1,286 pupils in Scotland took part. The UPYC survey was also conducted in cities in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States and forms part of a wider research programme called the International Self-Reported Delinquency Study (ISRD) which involves around 35 countries (more information on the ISRD can be found at

The booklets present findings on young people's experiences and views on a range of aspects of their lives, including their personal and social well-being, experience of school, truancy from school, neighbourhood safety, alcohol use, future aspirations and their experience of both victimisation and offending. They are intended to provide pupils and teachers with some broad information about young people's lives, which can be discussed in comparison to other contemporary studies, such as the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study and the Scottish Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey.

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'Joint Enterprise: Righting a wrong turn?

ICPR's new report on joint enterprise, by Jessica Jacobson, Amy Kirby and Gillian Hunter, sets out the findings of an exploratory study conducted by ICPR in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust, and with funding by the Nuffield Foundation.

Joint enterprise is a doctrine of the criminal law which permits multiple defendants to be convicted of the same criminal offence even where they had different types or levels of involvement. It has been the source of great controversy in recent years. This study explored the application of the doctrine of joint enterprise in the prosecution of serious cases, through analysis of a sample of CPS case files and associated court transcripts. The report also considers the implications of the recent Supreme Court ruling on joint enterprise (in R v Jogee and Ruddock v the Queen), which determined that the law had taken 'a wrong turn' 30 decades ago, and now requires 'correction'. The report argues that there is an urgent need for greater clarity and transparency in the way in which cases involving multiple defendants are prosecuted and sentenced in the future.

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Imprisonment Worldwide: The Current Situation and an Alternative Future

This new book, by Andrew Coyle, Helen Fair, Jessica Jacobson and Roy Walmsley, provides a comprehensive account of prison populations around the world and analyses differing trends in the development of prison policies in the 21st century.

The authors discuss the ethical framework within which prisons should operate, and offer a new vision for much reduced and more focussed use of imprisonment.

The book draws on the data in the World Prison Brief - a unique online data-base produced by ICPR containing information on prison systems throughout the world - and the authors' long experience of research, policy and practice in the field, to provide wide-ranging, up-to-date facts and figures on prison populations worldwide, such as:

- More than 10.35 million people are imprisoned worldwide

- Nearly a half of the world's prisoners are in the USA (more than 2.2m), China (more than 1.65m), Russia (640,000) and Brazil (607,000)

- Among the countries with the highest prison population rates (numbers of prisoners per 100,000 of national population) are the USA (698), Turkmenistan (583), Cuba (510); countries with the lowest prison population rates include Nigeria (31), India (33), Japan (48)

- More than 700,000 women and girls are held in prisons throughout the world


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Publication of World Prison Population List, eleventh edition

More than 10.35 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the World according to the latest edition of the world Prison Population List, researched and compiled by Roy Walmsley and published by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research on 3 February 2016. Including the numbers reported to be held in detention centres in China and in prison camps in North Korea, the total number of prisoners worldwide may well be in excess of 11 million.

There are more than 2.2 million prisoners in the United States of America, more than 1.65 million in China (plus an unknown number in pre-trial detention or 'administrative detention'), 640,000 in the Russian Federation, 607,000 in Brazil, 418,000 in India, 311,000 in Thailand, 255,000 in Brazil and 225,000 in Iran. The countries with the highest prison population rate - the number of prisoners per 100,000 of the national population - are Seychelles (799 per 100,000), followed by the United States (698), St. Kitts & Nevis (607), Turkmenistan (583), U.S. Virgin Islands (542), Cuba (510), El Salvador (492), Guam - U.S.A. (469), Thailand (461), Belize (449), Russian Federation (445), Rwanda (434) and British Virgin Islands (425).

Read more - press release

Read more - the List