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As more prisoners are being released from prison earlier in their sentences in order to free space in the crowded prison estate, Charlie Taylor reflects on ongoing challenges to preparing prisoners for release. The highly-concerning recent report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about resettlement support for prison leavers makes many of the same observations […]

Published: 14 November 2023

On World Literacy Day, Charlie Taylor reflects on the central importance of reading in prisons and why it cannot be neglected even in times of acute pressures on the service. These are difficult times for the prison service, with fundamental challenges such as staffing levels, ageing buildings, rising populations and overcrowding exerting unprecedented pressure. In […]

Published: 08 September 2023

As prison population numbers continue to rise, Charlie Taylor considers the implications and warns there will be consequences for all of us. There is nothing particularly surprising about the growth in the prison population. The prison service itself predicted back in 2018 that the prison population would reach over 86,000 by March 2023.[1] However, the […]

Published: 02 August 2023

Following an inspection of a previously failing prison, Birmingham, Charlie Taylor considers how an impressive governor used an Urgent Notification as a catalyst to transform it. When inspectors visited HMP Birmingham in August 2018 they were expecting it to be a difficult inspection; there had recently been a riot in the prison that had led […]

Published: 30 May 2023

Last March, HMI Prisons and Ofsted published a report into the teaching of reading in prisons. Having previously been a teacher, I was concerned about the low levels of literacy I had seen in our prisons and our report confirmed some of my worst fears. Far too many prisoners were coming into prison unable to […]

Published: 22 March 2023

At every inspection, HMI Prisons assesses the progress of the prison against four areas – safety, respect, purposeful activity and rehabilitation and release planning – and awards a score: four for good; three for reasonably good; two for not sufficiently good; and one for poor. Purposeful activity has consistently been the worst performing area since […]

Published: 24 January 2023

HMP/YOI Woodhill near Milton Keynes and HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey are similar-sized men’s prisons that are part of the long-term, high-secure estate. Both house prisoners mainly from London and the South East who are often serving long sentences. Both jails have recently been in the headlines: Woodhill has been forced to close […]

Published: 10 October 2022

It is almost three years since my predecessor Peter Clarke announced an Urgent Notification for HMYOI Feltham A following an unannounced inspection. He pointed to a “dramatic decline” in performance at the YOI and “numerous significant concerns about the treatment and conditions of children” held there. I remember it well because, as it happened, I […]

Published: 16 June 2022

As a former teacher, I often ask prisoners how they got on in school; the answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is often ‘not well’. Many describe having struggled through but survived primary school, only to be expelled in their first two or three years of secondary school. Others never spent much time in education at all, having […]

Published: 12 April 2022

When I first became a head teacher, my school was in a troubled state. Some established staff members had just left, the children were anxious and physical restraint had become the first rather than the last resort. There were many things that needed to be fixed, but I knew that if we did not get […]

Published: 03 March 2022