We have 30 years’ experience in researching, designing and delivering programmes that support those in the criminal justice system, including young offenders, prisoners and prison staff. 

Working in the criminal justice sector

Our knowledge and expertise have been built by working with youth offending teams, Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) and adult prisons.

We support individuals to understand their relationship with conflict and to bring about behavioural changes. We also develop programmes for organisations, YOIs and prisons to support wider cultural changes and a common understanding and approach towards managing conflict.

In the community

Our work in the community includes preventative interventions, rehabilitative programmes and training for professionals. 

Our interventions help young offenders to recognise the consequences of their actions, improve their strategies for resolving conflict and make different choices. Through this behavioural change young people start to think before reacting to situations, which reduces the likelihood of offending or reoffending and supports their rehabilitation and settlement post-custody. 

To have the greatest impact we also train the professionals who work with young people. If young people are to develop their skills, the adults who support them also need to understand the value of managing conflict as they are often best placed to support young people when conflict arises. For all of our work we can tailor our courses to address themes such as:

  • drivers for group offending
  • knife and weapon crime
  • working with gangs
  • violence, anger and aggression
  • harmful sexual relationships
  • racially motivated conflict
  • female offenders

Youth Offender Institutions (YOIs) and prisons

As the number of assaults and riots increase within prisons and YOIs, and the ratio of prison staff to prisoners and young offenders decreases, many prisoners and prison staff have reported feeling unsafe. In an environment such as this, where poor responses to conflict are high, we work towards change by giving those within the prison the knowledge and skills to manage conflict. This supports a wider cultural change, which can lead to:

  • reduced number of violent incidents, with increased feelings of safety
  • improved relationship building skills
  • awareness of alternative choices available in a conflict situation
  • greater engagement in other prison programmes, increasing the prospect of successful rehabilitation.

We work across the prison, from the senior management team to prisoners, to develop a shared language and understanding of conflict. To achieve the greatest impact we train prisoners, young offenders and prison staff, either separately or together in the same room. We also train others to deliver our courses and to act as mediators.

Each programme is carefully tailored to the needs of the prison or YOI and is designed in consultation with the leadership teams.

Where we have worked:

  • HMP/YOI Brinsford
  • HMP/YOI Chelmsford
  • HMP/YOI Drake Hall
  • HMP High Down
  • HMP Highpoint
  • HMP Lincoln
  • HMP/YOI Moorland
  • HMP/YOI Norwich
  • HMP Pentonville
  • HMP/YOI Rochester
  • HMP Spring Hill
  • HMP Stocken
  • HMP/YOI Swinfen Hall
  • HMP Wandsworth
  • STC Medway

Research

Our Peaceful Prisons Project is a three year piece of action research into the causes of violence in prisons and best practice in its prevention.

We have carried out extensive research and will launch pilot projects in two prisons to bring about sustained cultural change. Working across the prison, from the senior management team to prisoners, we will determine the issues and causes of violence. Our trainers will be embedded within one wing to build rapport and carry out focus groups before creating a community circle involving both prisoners and prison staff. From this, representatives will be selected to take a leading and ongoing role in conflict management in the wing.

The findings from these pilots will inform the development of our training, and the findings from our training, in turn, feed into the research. 

Quotes from former participants

People in here bottle up their feelings and arguments escalate quickly. Mediation is the opportunity to talk in a neutral environment and to come to a resolution. All joint meetings we’ve held between inmates have had a really positive effect. One guy was having such an awful time, in conflict and struggling with it, but afterwards he was chatting to the guy he had the conflict with. You only need to imagine the effect that has on those around him in the prison. I feel really proud of that. 

Tucker, Lead prison mediator

In prison it’s often the small stuff that can trigger a fight like someone playing their music too loud. I had been on good behaviour for five years but I had some news from home which put me in a really bad state of mind. I flipped out and over-reacted to something small another inmate did. I was sceptical to start with when I was referred to the mediation service but it reduced the resentment between us and it was good we could both express things from our point of view. 

William Mediation, participant

It helps us look at officers in a different way. It improves the relationships between prisoners and officers as we learn about each other’s lives.

Swinfen Hall prisoner, participant