How are charities accessing people in prison to deliver services?

People in prison need access to charities who can ease the difficulties of custody and help people reduce their own likelihood of reoffending.

But charities face a ‘double access’ problem when trying to work with people in prison. It is hard to get through the door of the prison, and once inside there is no guarantee of access to prisoners.

We have spoken to people with lived experience of prison; charities working in prisons and prison staff; civil servants and independent funders to get an understanding of the access issue.

In this report we set out how to overcome the barriers to access: strong relationships with all prison staff, recognition of shared aims, voluntary sector coordinators and work to influence prison officers.

We have also found that working in prison often creates tensions between charities values and their missions. Charities must decide if they can continue to work in inhumane prison conditions that have not ‘got the basics right’, and if embeddedness in the system is the price of meaningful access to prisoners?

We want people in prison to have access to the services they need, and for the prison system to be humane and effective at rehabilitation. Charities are crucial to making this vision a reality.

This report helps them, their funders, and those who work with them in the justice system to tackle the problem of access.

This report is part of a series, find out more about NPC’s criminal justice work here.