This week, inspectors found ‘root-and-branch’ problems with HMPPS’ flagship Offender Management in Custody (OMiC) programme. The model, intended to improve support to prison leavers as they resettle in the community, is ‘simply not working’.

The report highlighted many of the same old problems – not enough trained staff, not enough communication between prisons and probation, not enough of a culture of rehabilitation in prisons. In our particular area of interest, inspectors found that – in two in three cases - OMiC is not delivering proper support on family and relationship needs.

So what is it that Pact, and similar organisations can do to improve the situation?

  1. Recruitment and retention in prisons is at crisis point - you can’t run safe, secure, decent prisons without confident, professional, experienced staff. Pact and other third sector organisations can help. There’s an opportunity for a much greater multi-agency approach, with greater numbers of third sector colleagues working alongside HMPPS staff to deliver rehabilitation on the frontline.
  2. The third sector can train more staff in what is means to be a ‘rehabilitative’ prison officer. At Pact we already coach hundreds of prison staff every year, equipping them to support prisoners to improve their family relationships. HMPPS would do well to draw upon the expertise and knowledge of the third sector more proactively.
  3. The whole system must redouble efforts to support prisoners to stay in touch with loved-ones – this creates safer prison regimes and reduces reoffending. We’re running a number of innovative pilot projects that are seeking to do this more effectively. For example, our Routes2Change project in HMP Isis and Brixton is putting family relationships right at the heart of the prison regimes, providing support from day 1 of a prison sentence right up to six months after release.

Across the board, HMPPS would do well to call on the experience and expertise of the third sector to address these problems. Pact, along with many others, stands ready to help.

Read the report here: A joint thematic inspection of Offender Management in Custody – pre-release (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk)



Andy Keen-Downs
CEO, Pact