Responding to Michael Gove's speech at the Governing Governors' Forum today, Pact's CEO, Andy Keen-Downs has applauded several key policy announcements, in particular, the emphasis on education in prisons to strengthen family relationships.

In his speech, the Justice Secretary says:

'Critically, education should also help prisoners to acquire the social skills and virtues which will make them better fathers, better husbands and better brothers. Ensuring that prisoners can re-integrate into family life and maintain positive relationships is crucial to effective rehabilitation. Families are one of our most effective crime-fighting institutions. And we should strengthen them at every turn.'

'Pact is delighted to see this important new recognition of the rehabilitative value of building stronger families' said Andy Keen-Downs, Pact CEO.

'We gave evidence to the review of offender learning conducted by Dame Sally Coates, invited officials to see our family work in prisons, attended numerous meetings and supported service users, including prisoners, their mothers, partners and children, to share their experiences and views with Ministers and officials.

We are therefore enormously pleased that this work has paid off, and that our service users and expert staff have been heard.  We we now look forward to supporting prisons to put this policy into practice.'

Pact is also very pleased to see the support for greater use of 'Release on Temporary License' , provided that effective risk management is in place, within the context of  more rehabilitative regimes, and we are pleased to see the Minister moving forward with plans to give greater powers to governors to have greater autonomy.  We do sound a note of caution however, as we have yet to seen what the balance will be between local autonomy and national standards to ensure decency. We are particularly concerned to ensure that all prisons have effective services in place to support children and families on visits, including properly resourced visitors centres, family workers and services to support and safeguard prisoners' children'.

For further comment please contact us on 0207 735 9535 or email us at info@prisonadvice.org.uk.