Our work has impacted positively on the lives of prisoners, influenced
and contributed to public- and third-sector debates around the penal
system. We achieved this by
the production, dissemination and evaluation of Free to Write, an
anthology combining cultural-historical
analysis with prisoners' writing; through research on the experiences of
prisoners in the
past; and in the publication of a well-received series of crime novels
about criminality. Through practice-based and academic research, knowledge
practitioners in public- and third-sectors, and creative outputs directed
to specialist and non-specialist
audiences, staff explored the role of creative writing in prisoner
recidivism and in raising public awareness of the complex nature of
This case study reflects on Professor Joe Sim's work, and his public
engagement with the
academic, political, public and policy debates, around penal policy and
deaths in custody. The
underpinning aims of Sim's research are to: alleviate the pains and harms
associated with deaths
in custody for bereaved families; highlight the experiences of those staff
committed to humane
reform; engage critically with policies around penal reform in order to
develop alternatives to
custody based on humanity and social justice; and attempt to hold to
account those who deliver
penal policy. The ultimate aim is to heal the individual offender, reduce
victimisation and protect
This impact case study emanates from two ESRC grants. The impacts yielded
by it are theoretical, in that they advance thinking in relation
to identities, penal theory and research methodology; policy related
in that they have already impacted on National Offender Management Service
(NOMS) prison related policies; and practical, in that they have
changed the practices in the prison where the research was undertaken.
Through her research at UWE Bristol, Marie Mulvey-Roberts has enhanced
public understanding of imprisonment and political contributions made by
prisoners from the nineteenth century to the present day. The underpinning
research covers cases such as an inmate from a Victorian asylum through to
an imprisoned Suffragette and contemporary prisoners facing capital
punishment in America. By showing through writing how prisoners have
exposed conditions and other aspects of their ordeal, she has raised the
quality of public debate and wider understanding of basic standards of
wellbeing and conceptions of human rights. The research has stimulated
events at which members of the public have engaged with the issues raised
and benefited the school curriculum.
In 2008 Mary Cooper was commissioned by Clean Break Theatre, London and
Action for Prisoners'
Families (APF) to write a short drama which would address issues
particular to women in prison and
their families. The drama toured women's prisons in 2009. In 2010 Cooper
was commissioned to adapt
the stage play as a short film, which went on to win the IVCA Gold Award
for Best Drama 2010. It is
now widely recommended by leading charities and agencies and regularly
used as a training tool
throughout England and Wales to increase understanding of family
relationships within prisoners'
Easton's research on prisoners' rights has contributed to the policy
debate on prisoners' voting rights and has been used as evidence by lobby
groups which are seeking policy change in this area.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2005 that the UK's laws
disenfranchising most sentenced prisoners serving their sentences at the
time of the election breached the right to vote under the European
Convention on Human Rights (Hirst v UK). A change in the law would
affect more than 87,000 prisoners in English and Welsh prisons. Easton
contributed responses to both government consultations on the issue and
her research has been used by groups calling for change. Easton's research
has also been cited in the Parliamentary briefing paper on prisoners'
voting rights and her work on this topic has also been used to provide
information to the Joint Committee currently reviewing the Draft Voting
Eligibility Bill and possible options for change.
Research carried out at the University of Bradford has directly and
indirectly influenced how
prisons in England and Wales respond to issues of diversity and
impacting the lived experience of those working and residing in prisons.
The research has
contributed to the development of a national equalities policy framework;
the development of new
national and local policies and guidance for the care and management of
revisions to and widening of the mechanisms for prisoner reporting and
discrimination and inequality, and the development of human capital
through a more equalities
literate workforce and prisoner population.
The case study refers to research conducted by the Centre for Applied
Criminology (CAC), which has focused on HMP Grendon. This document
evidences the following impacts:
* Effects on and changes and benefits to policy and practice within and
beyond HMP Grendon.
* Reduction or prevention of harm / negative effects upon staff and
prisoners at HMP Grendon.
* Effects on awareness and understanding of needs specific groups of
prisoners at HMP Grendon.
* Changes and benefits to opportunities available for HMP Grendon
prisoners and applicants.
* Benefits in terms of awareness of penal issues amongst audiences of
Research undertaken on prison quality and moral performance by the
Cambridge Prisons Research Centre (PRC) has been used to develop the
Measuring Quality of Prison Life (MQPL) and Staff Quality of Life (SQL)
surveys for HM Prison Service. The National Offender Management Service
(NOMS) has adopted the MQPL survey in routine performance and audit
measurement of all 138 prison establishments in England and Wales. The
survey is also used to assess prison quality abroad. The research
underpinning the MQPL has enabled the implementation of HM Prison
Service's `decency agenda' for evaluating the treatment of prisoners. MPQL
survey results influenced the development of HM Prison Service practices
linked to a reduction in suicides in prisons.
This research has made a sustainable and long-term impact on law and
policy in relation to
prisoners, families and global human rights, not only in the UK but in
Europe and the rest of the
world. The research directly informed the decision of the Grand Chamber of
the European Court of
Human Rights in the Dickson v UK case concerning the reproductive
rights of prisoners and their
partners, which has had a significant and demonstrable impact on the lived
prisoners and their families, including enabling prisoners' partners to
gain access to fertility
services in order to become pregnant. This research has also informed the
design and delivery of
prison intervention programmes for offenders and their families.