“This new framework gives Governors the tools to set clear behavioural standards for prisoners – enhancing their ability to maintain stability while steering offenders away from a life of crime.” These words by David Gauke, Secretary of State for Justice announced the reformed Incentives regime to be used in our prison estate.
For me, the removal of ‘Entry Level’ is the most sensible of moves. I witnessed how this alienated prisoners from the regime in their jail. It caused a divide between individual prisoners and the staff that manned their landings and the prison management. This is not a good position to be starting your prison career. If a prisoner enters the system on a even keel with their peers it helps build that foundation of belonging to the community. This move should have an immediate impact on the prison community and its members.
The scheme allows staff to affirm good behaviour and challenge when that behaviour does not meet the desired level. This, as many members of the public will think, is what ought to have been happening without this scheme. Prison officers that walk the landings and have the day to day dealings with the prisoners ought to be guiding them this way. With the new keyworking scheme that has been implemented a while now it should be that relationships between prison officers and prisoners get stronger as they work together. This is the path to real rehabilitation.
The new scheme allows for Governors to facilitate extra time out of the cell for those prisoners that follow and engage with the prison regime. This has been tried previously, and failed when a former Secretary of State decided that we had too many prison officers and made it easy for the staff with years of experience to leave. For Governors to be able to act on this aspect of the scheme prisons are going to have to ensure that their landings are manned with enough staff to patrol the landings and supervise those prisoners who are still on association.
While I welcome this reworking of the scheme, I am also concerned that the groundwork has not be done to ensure that this will be a successful change. We have seen changes made to prison policy time and again, and more recent changes have been poorly administered which causes more confusion in the community; and that only goes to detract from the good work that goes on in our prison estate.
it is my hope that this scheme will be administered correctly at local and national levels. We can only watch and see what comes of this.