Professor David Wilson – Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University

1. Allow any members of the public who have been suitably security vetted to visit their local prison each month – after all this form of punishment is being done in their names as tax payers.

2. Increase basic prison officer staff training from seven weeks to 12 months and ensure that their training leads to a social work qualification – something which would bring us in line with, for example, the Norwegian prison service.

3. Put education and work at the heart of the prison regime – people are sent to prison as a punishment, not for punishment, and giving them literacy, numeracy and work skills reduces their likelihood of committing further offences after they have been released.

4. Pay prisoners a “living wage” – and allow them to also pay income tax on that wage. At the very least, this keeps them as part of civil society and encourages them to save for their eventual release.

5. Scrap the current security classifications of A to D which were originally introduced in 1966. This type of classification might have been fit for purpose when England won the World Cup and the Beatles topped the charts, but now merely serves to confuse staff about how best way to manage prisoners.

6. Reduce our prison population to the European average – why do the English and Welsh use prison as a punishment more regularly than our European neighbours? Are the English any more criminogenic than the French, Italians, Spanish, Turkish, Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Finns (add your preferred European country here).

7. Never allow a prison to hold more than 500 prisoners – all the evidence which we have from this country, Europe more broadly, and North America shows that smaller prisons are more effectively managed.

8. Allow Prison Governors to speak regularly “on the record” to members of the press.

9. Increase the numbers of prisoners being managed in therapeutic communities, such as HM Grendon – the “jewel in the crown” of the penal system and which has much to offer to the rest of the prison estate.

10. Begin to value the work of prison staff in the same way that we value the work of teachers, police officers, doctors and nurses – after all, these people work to make our communities safer by reducing the likelihood of crime being committed.

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David Wilson

David Wilson

Programme Director MA CJPP/ Criminology
David Wilson

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