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Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Our impact

Shared reading groups contribute to long-term, sustainable changes to prison reform, offender rehabilitation and offender prevention. They directly underpin the challenge to “transform the offender into the citizen”, which the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) targets through its seven pathways to reduce re-offending. 

As our network of groups increases across the offender pathway, so does the contribution of shared reading to stronger and safer societies.

“It has encouraged me to read more in my spare time which has released a lot of stress off my shoulders as I have been suffering from depression.” P, HMP Wormwood Scrubs

The need

  • 39% of adult offenders under supervision in one probation area had a current mental illness and 49% had a past/lifetime mental illness
  • 75% of adult prisoners have a dual diagnosis (mental health problems combined with alcohol or drug misuse)
  • Over 60% of young people who offend have communication difficulties and, of this group, around half have poor or very poor communication skills
  • In the last decade the women’s prison population has gone up by 33%. There are currently 4,267 women in prison
  • Over half the women in prison have suffered domestic violence and one in three has experienced sexual abuse

(Source: Prison Reform Trust)

Our aims

  • To create the opportunity for offenders and ex-offenders to transform their attitudes, thinking and behaviour.
  • To provide the bedrock for a collaborative approach to reducing reoffending.
  • To improve rehabilitation opportunities.
  • To prevent offending.
  • To create sustainable shared reading projects.

Our outcomes

  • Improved health and wellbeing through human interaction and self-reflection
  • Increase personal confidence by reading a wide variety of literature

“I have never read out in front of anyone before.  The atmosphere was so laidback and encouraging I decided to throw myself in at the deep end.  As a result I came out chuffed with myself.” B, Vulnerable Prisoners Wing, HMP Liverpool

  • Valued structure and meaningful activity in a safe, comfortable environment
  • Greater social engagement and a stronger sense of community

Evaluation of our reading groups in criminal justice settings shows that:

  • 61% feel more positive about life
  • 67% feel more understanding towards each other
  • 69% feel more confident about resettling in the community
  • 89% feel they have the opportunity to express themselves with confidence in a group

Our delivery partners

National: HMP Hindley, HMP Low Newton, Personality Disorder Psychologically Informed Planned Environments (PIPEs) across the UK

What else?

RISE: Reading in Secure Environments (RISE) is funded by Arts Council England and is bringing high-quality, challenging contemporary writers to readers in secure criminal justice and mental health care settings in partnership with an exciting range of literature festivals around the UK: Liverpool, Sefton, Wigan, Manchester, Durham and London.

Research: A Literature-Based Intervention for Women Prisoners
Published in 2013, this partnership study between researchers from Centre of Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems (CRILS) HMP Low Newton, Durham, and The Reader, and funded by the National Personality Disorder Team (Department of Health), assesses the benefits to wellbeing provided by shared reading to female prisoners.

Reader Stories: Greater Manchester Probation Trust

Our Criminal Justice work in Greater Manchester is featured in Inside Hope: Mental Health Projects in the Criminal Justice System, a summary report for Trusthouse Charitable Foundation

How can I find out more?

Our Criminal Justice Team operate in Liverpool and the North West, North East, London and PIPEs around the country.

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Registered charity number: 1126806 Registered company number: 0660 7389

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