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Despite financial cut-backs, the creative side of prison life always seems to win through. Events such as the annual Koestler Awards are evidence of this. So is the sterling work of, for example, Birmingham’s Geese Theatre, whose The Geese Theatre Handbook: Drama with Offenders and People at Risk has been a staple manual for trainers of all kinds since we had the privilege of working on it with them at the start of the millennium.
A similarly prized work is Michael Crowley’s Behind the Lines: Creative Writing with Offenders and People at Risk published in 2012. It shows how imaginative approaches to confronting offending behaviour – and imparting skills valuable on the outside – can have a real impact on whether someone returns to custody. Michael is a seasoned advocate for improving literacy in the prison setting. Quite apart from giving presentations at establishments such as Bristol and Erlestoke, he was for six years writer in residence at Lancaster Farms (then a young offender institution). He also helped set up a residency at Arohata Women's Prison in New Zealand in 2014.
Following the Home Secretary’s failure to honour in full the recommendations of the independent Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB), the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has started proceedings with the Home Office which could lead to a Judicial Review of the decision.
Thousands of police officers who have died or been killed in the line of duty were honoured at today’s annual National Police Memorial Day service, held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
The Custodial Review invites Sue Wheatcroft, a former inmate with a borderline personality disorder, to talk about mental health in prison. Here, Sue highlights the lack of resources available to prisoners who need mental health support and explains what she did about the problem on her release…
At the age of 55, I went to prison for the first time. I take full responsibility for the actions that led me there. However, I strongly believe that if I had received help from the mental health services, things would not have got so bad. I was desperate but received no help because I was ‘too ill to treat’. My story is not uncommon, and the more people who highlight what happens, the more chance there will be of changing attitudes and transforming the lives of people with mental illness.
The Custodial Review editor Victoria Galligan spoke to Sally Treloar, development manager and course facilitator at the Imago Dei Prison Ministry, about plans to open a house for female offenders on their release from prison.
A registered charity, Imago Dei Prison Ministry already works in three prisons offering various courses – including a parenting course – and providing pastoral support, as well as Bible study.