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26 June 2019
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A prison interior
A prison interior

13 October 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Designing and operating prison buildings in specific ways could halve assaults on staff and significantly reduce the stress under which staff work, says a panel of experts including prison managers, psychologists and criminologists. 

Its report, entitled Rehabilitation By Design: Encouraging Change In Prisoner Behaviour, was presented to MPs, peers and industry experts this week at a reception at the House of Commons. 

It sets out recommendations ahead of a £1.3 billion prison-building programme planned by the Ministry of Justice. These assert that the primary aim for any new prison programme must be to address the huge reoffending rate and suggests that this could be achieved by making innovative yet cost-effective changes to the built environment.

The authors go on to investigate the ways in which behavioural policies and clever design principles have benefited prison systems abroad, and how these initiatives could be implemented in the UK.

These changes, they say, could reduce overall life cycle costs, see prisoners rehabilitated and cut reoffending rates in England and Wales – some of the highest in Europe. Figures show that just under half of all adult prisoners are likely to reoffend within a year of release – costing the taxpayer £13 billion a year.

The report, spearheaded by property and construction consultancy Gleeds, features contributions from a number of academics, including Professor Keith Humphreys of the University of Stanford, and Professor Yvonne Jewkes from the University of Brighton, with the support of management consultancy PwC.