This Week in Britain’s Prisons Inmates Learn To Code

Knife Crime at its Highest in Nine Years

 

Not since 2009 has the recorded knife crime in the UK been so high. The Justice system dealt with 21,500 knife crimes last year, that’s almost 60 a day. Four thousand three hundred of these involved children and two-thirds of crimes did not result in an immediate prison term. The figures do not include stabbings and murders, which are most commonly recorded as attempted murder or homicide.

 

Knife crime has devastating consequences for families and communities, and the government says it is doing everything it can to stop it. Rory Stewart, Justice Minister said sentences for knife crimes are getting tougher, and those guilty are more likely to be sent straight to prison.

After an epidemic of stabbings in Britain’s major cities and national outcry for the government to do something, it was announced there would be £100 million available for areas worst affected by violent crime. Twenty thousand officers have been lost to the police force since 2010 in budget cuts. This has had a knock on effect of the ability to patrol streets effectively and keep the lid on crime. Chancellor Philip Hammond said the £100 would pay for increased police presence and increased patrols.

Home secretary Sajid Javid said reducing stabbings “requires action on many fronts”. Although the funding will increase police resources, action in the education, health and social services must increase to tackle the underlying reasons for knife crime. Austerity, unemployment and gang culture have given rise knife crimes and only investing in public services, youth projects, community help and real employment will give young people real hope for the future.

Prisoners are Learning to Code.

A government-funded £1.2 million project is set to help specially chosen prisoners to learn to code. The project aims to increase the digital knowledge of disadvantaged populations within the prison system.

HMP Humber, Holme House and an employment hub in Sheffield are at the vanguard of the project having been awarded £100,00 initially. Volunteers and experts from the technology world will lead the course. The prisoners will work with real-life clients on projects not connected to the prison.

The projects will begin with teaching basic coding skills, such as learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript and progress to more advanced concepts such as Git, TDD, MVC, databases and full stack development. If the trials are successful, it will lead to coding workshops throughout the prison estate.

The idea came from the USA; it was trialled at the maximum security prison, San Quentin where 500 prisoners were helped to find jobs. None of these prisoners went on to re-offend which is impressive. Reoffending costs the UK £15 billion a year, and the government is committed to lowering this substantially.

Employment is a critical factor in stopping reoffending, so giving offenders real life-changing skills can help them find a worthwhile job.

Code 4000, an organisation teaching the coding skills says it keeps in contact with its students and has already seen a measurable decrease in re-offending. Neil Barnaby from Code 400 says he has seen coding skills change lives, not just for the inmates but for their families too. It gives the inmates a real chance to move away from a life of crime to a career in a growing industry.

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In Britain’s First Transgender Prison- High Risk Trans Prisoners allowed to mix with CIS women.

Inmates at Britain’s first trans prison wing at Downview, have been allowed to join with biological women for some activities including fitness sessions and chapel visits. It is said that some of the prisoners include sex offenders and are considered high risk for regular women’s prisons. Originally it had been promised they would be kept separately.

Prison officers and female inmates are said to be concerned over the arrangements. Women inmates at Downview are on the whole, low risk and non-violent, this means the prison operates a very open regime. They are upset that disruptive or violent prisoners may risk their freedom and open regime. One trans woman staged a rooftop protest last week, and when she was a man at a former prison did the same thing, but overpowered a guard to do so.

The trans prisoners are held on “restricted status conditions” the nearest a woman can get to the male category A status. Category A status is designated for the most dangerous male prisoners. Category Amake prisoners would not be placed with category D male prisoners so why is it different for women and trans women? Whether they are trans or not makes little difference, they are a risk for the women prisoners at Downfield.

The Justice Minister said they were only allowed to mix for specific activities and were always under supervision. The majority of trans prisoners are allowed to experience the prison system of their current gender, according to government policy.

The unit at Downview has been open a month, and currently there are only three prisoners, although more are expected. Nearly half of trans prisoners are sex offenders compared to one-fifth of the general population.

Trans women are also likely to be at risk in a male prison. The management of transgender prisoners and offences is a very sensitive complex issue with many challenges. However, the Ministry of Justice says it is determined to get it right.

Dorset Scheme aims to Stop Reoffending Among Vulnerable Women

Volunteers and staff from Footprints charity in Dorset are all set to work with women who have committed a first time low level offence. The charity is eagerly seeking further volunteers who would like to train as mentors for the scheme.

The scheme will address issues such as mental health, domestic abuse, poverty and homelessness. The idea is to put interventions in place that will break the reoffending cycle and allow women to move on with their lives. It is recognised that women have complex needs and that short sentences did more harm than good. The scheme follows the Ministry of Justices Female Offender Strategy.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill is backing the project, said that sending everyone to jail was no longer a viable solution and was not the answer to reoffending. He went on to say, “Nationally, more than 70 per cent of women who serve sentences of less than 12 months end up reoffending within a year – and that is a situation in which there are no winners.”

Convicted Paedophile Dies 10 Days into his Sentence

Harry Wood 59, died of a heart attack 10 days into his prison sentence. At the time he was at HMP Wakefield and was rushed to Saint James’ hospital but died on arrival.

Wood had committed a series of horrific offences against very seven young girls in the 70,80s and 90s. The girls were aged between two and seventeen years old.

Wood was convicted for 38 offences in all, on May 18 last year.

Wood had recovered from lung cancer in 2010 but still suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. After his arrest he was told the cancer had returned and was terminal.

Prison Phone, Keeping prisoners and families connected
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2019-03-17T14:35:25+00:00

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