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Read the Justice Committee Oral evidence: Prison reform, HC 548, attached.
The POA have given a cautious welcome to the prison reform agenda as set out by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Justice. This welcome is conditional on the basis that the reforms are intended to make our prisons safer, more decent and increase security all of which will provide establishments and institutions that can help offenders address their behaviour and reduce reoffending.
The POA have for a number of years now consistently and repeatedly expressed concerns about the increasing use, by offenders held in our prisons, of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). These concerns are not limited to offenders with a history of drug misuse prior to entering the prison system but those who previously had no history of such use.
It has long been POA policy to see a full smoking ban introduced across all prisons throughout England and Wales. We believe that this is a health and safety issue and that staff and offenders in our prisons should not be exposed to second hand smoke.
The POA have been a major supporter for the introduction of new technology into our prison system. We have called for and supported the trials of body-worn cameras by staff.
Following the publication of the PSPRB 2015 report, the POA membership, through a vote at its 2015 Annual Delegate Conference, instructed the National Executive Committee not to give either written or oral evidence to the Review Body.
The Prime Ministers announcement on 8th February 2016 on Prison Reform was, in the opinion of the POA, full of welcome intentions and bereft of detail as to how they were to be delivered.