October 2020 — Peter Clarke HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Minutes of the meeting of the Virtual Meeting of the All-Party Group on Penal Affairs, held on 20 October 2020
Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Lord Ramsbotham (in the chair)
Lord Harris of Haringey
Paul Maynard MP
Lord Woolf of Barnes
Lord Ramsbotham welcomed everyone to the first virtual meeting of the group and introduced the speaker, Peter Clarke, who we were fortunate to have as a speaker just before he completed a very successful period as Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons. Peter Clarke had laid his annual report before Parliament that morning. The meeting looked forward to his valedictory.
Peter Clarke thanked Lord Ramsbotham for his kind introduction and the group for its invitation. He welcomed the opportunity to reflect on the past nearly five eventful years, although it had originally been intended to be just three.
‘In the time available I’d like to pick out just a few themes: firstly the position in 2016, when I came into the role; secondly, to think about the major issues which we have looked at in inspections in prisons in that time, and then to reflect on some of the key events which have taken place, which have affected inspections. No meeting would be complete nowadays without thinking about Covid and I shall certainly do that; and then some thoughts about the future.
In 2016, clearly we were in the depths of austerity. The Prison Service had been subjected to a bench-marking exercise which had in effect removed large numbers of staff from delivering the service in prisons, capital investment had been severely cut, and all of that meant that prisons were really struggling. The living conditions were heading in completely the wrong direction and there simply were not enough staff to provide safe, purposeful and decent custody. And on top of all that there was—not the emerging but the accelerating and deepening—problem of illicit drugs in prison and the wave of new psychoactive substances, spice and so on. I have to say that I think the Prison Service reacted far too slowly to it. I think there was a sense that it was another iteration of the long- standing problem of drugs in prison and I don’t think there was a strong enough recognition that these particular sorts of drugs had the ability to destabilise our prisons and lead to all sorts of impacts in terms of violence and so on.
From the perspective of the inspectorate, whether because of the operational struggles the prisons were having at the time it is difficult to say, there was a declining interest in implementing the recommendations that we were making. Those of you who have had a chance to see my annual reports over the past few years will see that I have reported that fewer recommendations have been achieved than have not been achieved. That has been the pattern for some years. I am pleased to say that today for the first time since 2015 I have been able to report that more recommendations were achieved than not. And although that was in the pre-Covid era nevertheless I think that is an indication that there has been some change.
In terms of what we have actually seen over the years, I won’t dwell too long on the details because what I have to say will be more than familiar to many of you. Following the framework of our Healthy Prisons test, I have mentioned illicit drugs so I won’t dwell on them but the impact has been quite extraordinary and destructive in many prisons. Violence has been rising steadily over many years, all types of violence, assaults on staff, assaults between prisoners, self-harm. It’s something which appears to be intractable but to my mind is clearly linked to so many other issues in prison, including living conditions, lack of time out of cell and the impact of drugs. Self-harm has been rising inexorably for many years, particularly as we know in the women’s estate, where the rate has been running at five times that of men’s prisons, and all of this has had an enormous impact on mental health and wellbeing. We are seeing huge numbers of prisoners, particularly under Covid, reporting issues with their mental health and general wellbeing. A lot of this, to my perspective, is simply due to fear. Prisons are unacceptably violent places, and we see a lot of prisoners desperately living in fear and self-isolating because of it. There is something of a vicious circle there. I have reported year after year that far too many of our prisons are simply not safe.
In terms of living conditions, you will have seen some of the pictures we have published over the years. You don’t need me to talk about rubbish, rodents, broken windows, and so on and so forth. In terms of respect, though, what has been encouraging in the last year or so is that the quality of relationships between prisoners and staff seems to have held up, and to have improved. I am talking about before Covid. Our respect gradings have been going in the right direction, in other words upwards. And there is no doubt at all that the better the quality of staff-prisoner relationships, the better those prisons are.
Equality and diversity is an area in which I think there needs to be a considerable amount of work. In common with every other part of the criminal justice system, there is disproportion in terms of negative perception on the part of black and minority ethnic prisoners. What is lacking, all too often, is analysis of why there are those more negative perceptions. Next week we will be publishing a thematic report on the perceptions of BAME prisoners and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller prisoners around resettlement and rehabilitation and how that’s going. I hope that will set a debate going which will focus the issue as much as possible. Everybody knows there is disproportion at every stage of the criminal justice system but it is getting into it to understand why that I think needs to be done.
In terms of the aging prison population, I’ve been saying for a long time that I think there needs to be a strategic approach to this, given the trends. Three years ago the Prison Service said they were going to introduce a strategy, and I remember going to a meeting where this was going to be discussed and developed. Sadly what emerged was a thing called a model of operational delivery which, whatever else it was, was not a strategy. It was a series of potential management inputs, a menu of options from which governors could choose. But in terms of setting out a proper strategy, that was not there. There is now an intention to start this process again and to find a strategy. I hope that this time there is a clearer appreciation of what a strategy is, because I think it is desperately needed for our older prisoners.
Purposeful activity: this is one of the things I have been really disappointed in, and our gradings in recent years have not been encouraging at all. In my view it is absolutely essential for prisoners to have hope, hope that those who wish to can turn their lives around in prison and emerge at the end of their sentences with some hope that they can rejoin the community and make a positive contribution. I am not naïve enough to think that every prisoner wants to do this. There are some who are committed to their lives of crime, if I can put it that way, and have no intention of changing their ways. But there are many others who would love to have the opportunity to turn their lives around, and at the moment it is simply being denied them in too many areas. The quality of purposeful activity varies enormously, even in our training prisons, and when I see prisoners untangling birds’ nests of airline headphone cables, or putting nuts on bolts, or doing equally menial and mundane tasks, I think: is this really preparing prisoners for release?
At the other end of the spectrum I have seen some excellent work being done. I know it’s invidious to pick out a particular prison, but it is one I saw, at Ashfield, which is a prison for sex offenders. They have taken the very sensible view that it is going to be very difficult for those prisoners to be competitive in the external jobs market, so they have taken to preparing them with the skills that will enable them potentially to become self-employed when they leave. I was very impressed with the quality of what was being delivered there.
Apart from the quality of what is being delivered, the other problem is the quantity. When you find that there is a huge shortfall in activity places in training prisons, you begin to wonder what is the purpose of that prison? I have seen huge shortfalls which is clearly a major issue. Alongside that, there are those prisons where there is a culture, an ethic of work and training, and those where there is not. Too often I have gone into cells in the middle of the day and found prisoners lying in bed watching television and asked them what they were doing. I remember one couple who said: ‘well we are going to be released in three or four months’ time. What is the point of going to work?’ There was no encouragement from the staff, no incentive to go and join in activities.
Our fourth Healthy Prison area is rehabilitation and release planning. I am sure many of you are familiar with the Offender Assessment System (OASYS) which sits at the heart of offender management and sentence progression. In good prisons there is no backlog, they are up to date, prisoners know what it is they are expected to do and they are able to do things to progress. In less good prisons we see hundreds of these documents are missing. There is a systemic failure around this, and it needs to be addressed because it sits at the heart of a prisoner’s ability to progress through their sentence. It does need completely revisiting. If it can’t be fixed, then build something else. But at the moment, when I have asked centrally how many of these co-called OASYS documents are missing, no-one can tell me. But I know that in individual establishments we find lots missing.
I am also concerned very often about the number of unsafe releases that we are seeing. Too many people are being released not from resettlement prisons, but from prisons where there is not the ability properly to prepare them, including many prisoners who present a high risk of harm to the public. That really does need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Of course accommodation on release plays a key part in influencing whether or not a prisoner is likely to re-offend. We are seeing large numbers of people being released homeless still, I am afraid, and that is particularly damaging in the women’s estate. I remember speaking to women prisoners at Eastwood Park, and one woman in particular saying to me: ‘I am due for release next Sunday but I will be back here within ten days because I am being released onto the streets, I have nowhere to go, and the only way of staying alive is doing the same things that got me into here in the first place’. Incredibly depressing: there needs to be a way of breaking that cycle. A lot of it is to do with partnership with local authorities. In Liverpool for example there is very good partnership with the city council and not many if any prisoners are released homeless. But that is not the case across the country, I am afraid to say.
Moving on to events in the past year or two which have had a major impact on what we have seen in prisons, I’ll take us back to 2016-17 when Elizabeth Truss was Secretary of State and published The Prisons and Courts Bill. That was the Bill in which the concept of the urgent notifications process was introduced, whereby if I as Chief Inspector had serious concerns about treatment and conditions, I could write to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State would be obliged to respond publicly within 28 days to say what was going to be done about it, and the letters would be published. I thought that for a Secretary of State to invite public and political accountability for what was essentially an operational matter was quite novel and very welcome. One could say there’s a stark contrast with the situation twenty years ago between Michael Howard and Derek Lewis. Sadly the Bill was lost when the general election was called in May 2017. But then the next Secretary of State, David Lidington, assured me that he had an ambition to achieve as many of the provisions in that Bill as possible by administrative means. So work continued to develop what we now know as the urgent notification process.
Meanwhile, that summer of 2017, there was a particularly difficult inspection at Liverpool, and for the first time the findings were so concerning that the Justice Select Committee held an evidence hearing into the findings about an individual prison. A lot of issues emerged from that, and one that did was that there was a disjunction between what the local management was reporting that they were achieving, in terms of responses to previous inspection recommendations, and what the reality was. In other words they said they were doing better than they actually were: they reported to headquarters that they were about to achieve 70% of inspectorate recommendations and headquarters seemed to take that at face value. When we actually inspected, about three months after this assessment was made, about 25% had been achieved. The Select Committee were concerned about this, and took the view, not unreasonably, that there was clearly something missing in the management of a prison such as Liverpool and that there needed to be some independent follow-up work. So they supported the concept of the Inspectorate being resourced to undertake a new type of follow-up work called independent reviews of progress, where we would go and look to see what the response to inspectorate recommendations was, in a limited number of gaols. The Select Committee very helpfully persuaded the Government that we should be resourced for that, so we recruited extra inspectors, and that has been a feature of our work ever since. A fundamental change for the Inspectorate because instead of our usual focus purely on outcomes for prisoners we were looking at—in the management jargon—the input side: what was actually being done to respond to recommendations. We were not looking for the final polished article, but whether, to put it at its simplest, we were being taken seriously.
Meanwhile the Secretary of State did support us in the generation of the urgent notification process, and it was first used at Nottingham in January 2018. The approach I have taken to urgent notifications is that they should be kept for the very worst cases, and they should not be thrown around willy-nilly. The criterion I have applied quite regularly has been that I have only written to the Secretary of State—and it has only been on six occasions so far—when an establishment needs external strategic input to put things right. If the solution to the problem sits within the gift of the particular establishment I would not normally issue an urgent notification. I have come across some establishments which have tried to encourage me to issue an urgent notification because the governor thought that would be a way of levering resources into the establishment and helping them out that way. I have resisted that because I take the view that if it is within their gift they should get on and do it, and not just rely on more resources being thrown at it.
It was about this time as well that the Prison Service put quite a lot of effort into reinvigorating what were described as special measures where prisons were not performing well. I have to say that my perception was that that did not work. Quite a few prisons were put into special measures, and several of the ones I looked at actually went backwards whilst they were in them. Their performance declined quite dramatically. Lewes was a prime example of that. Part of the trouble was when I asked governors: OK you’ve got this action plan, you’ve got the special measures. Who’s responsible for delivering this? Whose action plan is it? Who writes off and agrees that you have completed actions? And most times I got a shrug of the shoulders and ‘I don’t know’ was the answer. They were not clear whether it was their responsibility, the responsibility of the prison group director, or the executive director. This lack of clarity about management processes and accountability I am afraid has been quite a common feature. But the urgent notification process has I think led to new levels of public and political accountability which have led to significant change.
In terms of the independent reviews of progress (IRPs), what have we actually found? A lot has depended on the quality of the local leadership, to be frank. In some places, such as at Nottingham, we found a good response, and overall for about half of the recommendations that we have chosen to look at during these reviews of progress the response has been good or very good. However in other places it has been somewhat disappointing that the response has been very slow. Particularly when it has been in response to an urgent notification we have found that sometimes the response has been anything but urgent. Although Pentonville was not subject to an urgent notification, I remember going there last January for one of these reviews of progress and virtually nothing had been done for many months, and in fact some things had only just started a few days before we turned up. So that was disappointing. But overall I think prisons are beginning to understand that the purpose of an IRP is actually to be supportive, and the better governors and the better management teams actually look at it as a bit of free consultancy. I know that many governors have found it an extraordinarily helpful process, and that I am pleased about. Although often as an Inspectorate people will say ‘Oh well you’re here to criticise’ and so forth—well yes at times we will. But I also think it equally important that we should identify good practice, support the spreading of good practice and celebrate success when we see it. Some of these IRPs have given us the chance to do exactly that.
Moving on to the Covid response: it seems a long time ago, going back to March. You may remember that when the lockdown came in we suspended our regular programme of inspections, but as a nation we still have a responsibility under the Optional Protocol to provide independent scrutiny of places of detention and the Prison Act places a statutory remit on me to report to the Secretary of State on the treatment and conditions of prisoners. So I took the view that we should try to find a safe way of providing some independent professional scrutiny of prisons as soon as we could. So we worked very hard on this—and I have to say that one of the things I am most proud of the Inspectorate for is the way in which they responded, and developed new methodologies to get us back into prisons safely. We weren’t going to compromise on safety at all, in fact the safety standards we adopted were more stringent than many that were actually working in prisons at the time. We were back in prisons by 21st April conducting short scrutiny visits as we called them, just one or two inspectors looking at some core issues. Over time that has developed into what we call scrutiny visits where we have a few more inspectors, and we have reintroduced our prisoner surveys. Now as it stands we have been to about fifty establishments. I was very grateful for the support of the Prison Service and Ministers in helping us with this process of developing a safe way which has enjoyed wide support, despite the early concerns of some management teams. The only disappointment was that the staff associations did not support us, and the Prison Officers Association in a public circular on 10th April described us as an ‘unnecessary distraction’, which I think was a shame. I hope that what we have been able to establish and report on since then has shown that we have been anything but an unnecessary distraction.
In terms of findings during Covid, without a shadow of a doubt the Prison Service deserves a lot of praise for the immediate response in the early stages. What we found was that yes there were extreme restrictions put in, with good reason. The projections of what could happen if the infection was not controlled in prisons were incredibly concerning. With the combination of good clear communication and clarity in talking to prisoners, what we found is that in those early days prisoners fully understood the need for the restrictions and were supportive of them. There was a sense that we were all in this together. They could see the restrictions in the community as well, and understood why things were being done in prisons. Since then, as time has moved on, we have seen more concerning issues coming out. The restrictions have been slow to be lifted, sometimes for understandable reasons and sometimes less understandably. There has not been a lot of flexibility for local management teams and I know that has been a frustration for some governors who feel that they could have done things perfectly safely and slightly differently in their own local contexts, but have not been able to do so. Things such as reintroducing social visits in a different way, or getting some education and training going.
But what we have seen over the summer and now into the autumn is that frustrations are building for prisoners, and we are seeing very real problems emerging in general wellbeing and mental health in particular. A lot of prisoners are telling us that their mental health is suffering. Remember we are talking about the majority of prisoners being locked in their cells for 22 or 23 hours a day, with very little going on in the way of education or training, and very little opportunity to engage in interventions or programmes which will enable them to show progress towards release or an application to the Parole Board. What we are seeing is that a lot of them are losing hope. I am far from advocating that anything should be done which is inherently unsafe, but now that it looks as though the pandemic is going to be with us for some considerable time, is it really feasible to say that prisoners can remain locked in their cells for 23 hours a day ad infinitum, possibly for another six months, nine months, a year? I don’t think it is. I think there needs to be an approach to the balance of risk: to balance the risk of infection against other risks. I am not advocating doing anything unsafe. But I do think there needs to be serious consideration as to whether there is only one way of doing things safely, or whether there are other ways. And that means engaging and giving local managers the confidence to come forward with suggestions and plans, and not saying to them ‘Well if you do this you will be taking a risk.’ That is the wrong end of the blame culture. I have to say again that I totally reject the negative narrative that has been put forward by some people that actually prisoners are feeling happier, safer, more contented with the extreme restrictions that have been placed upon them. I just don’t believe it. It’s not what we are seeing in prisons and I think it’s completely wrong that that should be put forward.
So, general reflections: how were things allowed to get so bad? Yes, there’s the impact of austerity. But I do have to question the role of the various layers of management of the Prison Service. I am not just saying this because he is chairing this particular session, but I was re-reading sections of Lord Ramsbotham’s book, Prisongate, the other day, and it struck me that it could have been written yesterday. Things have not changed. To my mind, some of the things showed the management structure is not working as it should do in a coherent organisation. You are getting massive variations in performance between similar types of establishment. Every time we go to a prison and find some things that are very concerning, even down to our recent visit to Erlestoke, there is surprise expressed at the findings of the inspection. At one particular inspection I was at, at a prison where there were no windows, rats, rubbish—you could not believe the state of it; I came across some men in real distress in their cells because of the conditions they were in, and they already had mental health conditions—the prison group director was there and greeted me cheerily and asked whether it was going well. I am afraid my response was not terribly helpful to him in that moment. I am not a prison professional: I have just inspected them. I have not spent my career working in prisons. But if there are four or five hundred windows missing in a prison, even I can see that’s not quite right, and surely a senior manager in the Prison Service should be able to pick that out as well.
I think there has been a failure to manage the performance of prisons. I have been looking hard to find what the strategy is. I can find the business strategy, which is about how you run your business. But I have struggled for the past five years to find out what the overall strategy of the Prison Service is: what is it trying to achieve? There is a lot of assurance, many layers of assurance within the Prison Service, most of which are about assuring their own processes, not about assuring the outcomes that should be delivered. I think there is now a need for a post-Covid vision, and there is a real opportunity now to re-set and to build on (I hate the expression) green shoots. If you were to look at my annual report today I have said that in the lead-up to Covid there were some encouraging signs at long last beginning to emerge within the Prison Service. Those need to be grasped, and in order to grasp them and to drive them forward obviously there needs to be leadership both from officials and politically. The public interest case needs to be made more strongly than it has ever been made before: there is absolutely no public interest whatsoever in subjecting prisoners to treatment and conditions that render them more likely to re-offend and to create more victims when they leave prison. The MoJ’s own research a couple of years ago suggested that the cost of re-offending was around £18 billion. It seems to me that if you’ve got around 80,000 people (and I mean no pun at all) who are there as a captive audience, then in terms of crime prevention and rehabilitation you have got the people who have already been convicted of crimes. It’s not as though you are going out into the community and saying: please don’t commit a crime. You have the direct access and the ability, one would hope, to influence those who want to reform.
How could this be done? If you think back to the 2017 Bill that was lost, for the first time there are some statutory purposes of imprisonment there, around reform, rehabilitation, and of course punishment in fulfilling the sentence of the court. But reform and rehabilitation are writ large there. And if you hang a strategy off that, I think there is the real opportunity to improve things. So who will generate this vision? I have to say that, so far, the only people who are articulating a post-Covid vision are the Prison Officers Association. They are saying we must not go back to the chaos of the past. To my mind, it is a very negative agenda, and there needs to be an alternative view which says that we have an opportunity to completely redefine the way that prisons work, but it does need consistent political leadership. I am afraid that one of the penalties and problems of the last few years is that, although I have been doing this job for just under five years, I have enjoyed working with five secretaries of state and four prisons ministers in that time.
So in conclusion, I know that to an extent I am saying the same thing as Lord Ramsbotham said twenty years ago, and I do hope that my successor in twenty years’ time won’t be saying the same things as me. I do find it inconceivable that such an important public service should be left to drift for two more decades. I genuinely hope that this is not the case, and that the opportunities which are there now are seized. Thank you very much and I look forward to any questions that you may have.’
Lord Ramsbotham thanked Peter Clarke for a masterly overview of his time in office, which would no doubt promote a good discussion. He wondered what hopes the speaker had of the Royal Commission being able to achieve anything.
Peter Clarke said he was not clear what the terms of reference of the Commission would be. He wondered whether prisons would be worth a Royal Commission, or some sort of strategic review, in their own right. What was needed was a review of where detention sat in our current system. We had roughly 80,000 people in prison, roughly 1,000 released every week, of whom 500 would re-offend within the year. That must represent a strategic failure. He would love to think the Royal Commission would look at this, but he wondered whether it would be too wide in scope.
Lord Ramsbotham handed over to Mark Day to introduce questions from the floor. Mark Day thanked all those who had asked questions, and invited anyone else to contribute one.
Peter Selby noted that in a recent report prisoners had been described as self-isolating. He asked whether the speaker thought Covid19 had affected relations between prisoners and staff in positive or negative ways, whether prisons had become more or less institutionalising places, and whether prisoners were still learning to become more autonomous, self-disciplined persons.
Peter Clarke responded that he sometimes struggled with the term ‘self-isolating.’ If someone was hiding in their cell because they were terrified, did that count as self-isolating? Or was it a failure to protect them? As regards relationships, in the early stages, with prisoners being let out in small ‘family’ groups, there was a sense of better communication, although he did not know whether that would continue. He was certainly against the idea that there should be no association other than for work or education. Positive human interaction should be encouraged, and well managed association was a vital part of prison life.
Luke Toomey asked what the speaker thought of the proposal in the MoJ consultation to merge the IMBs with the Inspectorate, and whether this would strengthen or reduce the scrutiny given to the treatment of those in custody.
Peter Clarke said he was grateful for that question. This was something to which the Inspectorate and the IMBs had devoted much thought. In this respect, Covid had been helpful, in that they were working more closely together now than ever before. At the beginning of the outbreak he had set up an ‘intelligence cell’ to gather and share all the information possible about what was happening in prisons, and that had worked well. He had seen reference to the ‘Scottish model’ but the situation there was very different. His own view, and he thought also that of Anne Owers, was that the Inspectorate and the IMB performed complementary but different functions, and while it was good to share information, bringing them together into one organisation would add between £4 and 8 million in costs, for which he struggled to see the operational benefit.
Francesca Cooney noted that the majority of prisoners would have been experiencing extreme lengths of lock-up, with no face-to-face education, for seven months. She asked for the speaker’s views on the resettlement outcomes for offenders leaving prison.
Peter Clarke responded that it had been incredibly destructive. The lack of face to face education was appalling, especially in the children’s estate where in his view it had been needlessly stopped. Local governors had been advised that they could carry on safely, but were prevented from doing so. In terms of resettlement, the programmes and interventions needed for prisoners to be able to show progress, or gain skills, simply had not been there. Besides all this, the impact on prisoners’ mental health of having nothing to do had been significant.
Oliver Lodge had a question on prison leadership. What more could HMPPS do to better develop and harness the potential of local leadership?
Peter Clarke said he thought there needed to be a fundamental look at how the Prison Service, with its many layers of leadership, organised itself. Was it about drawing data up from the bottom to the top, to assure the centre that processes were in place and policies being followed, or was it about understanding what was happening within prisons? He had mentioned one example of a senior prison manager presiding over abject failure. Prison governors needed all the support they could get. Governors had told him that one good impact of Covid had been that they did not have to rush to regional meetings with bundles of data: they could get on with running their prisons. There were huge amounts of data in the system, and one prisons minister was driven to distraction by the piles of it on his desk. But much of it was quantitative rather than qualitative. He did not see it addressing some of the systemic failures, such as OASYS. He would like to see each layer of leadership explaining the quality it added to delivery of service on the front line.
Mark Day said that as time was short he would present two questions together.
Ben Leapman noted the speaker’s remarks on the overall failure to manage the performance of prisons, and HMPPS’ failure to recognise this. What was needed: new individuals at the top or a different structure?
Alan Mitchell asked how we could persuade ministers that building more prison places would not make the UK a safer place to live.
Peter Clarke responded, in respect of the first question, that what needed to change was the culture of the Prison Service, which often reminded him of the culture of the Police Service he had joined in the 1970s: very defensive, not welcoming of external scrutiny, process driven, with an enormous ‘Not Invented Here’ culture. For example they were far too slow to adopt technology in the detection of illicit drugs and contraband coming into prisons—technology already freely available in other sectors.
In respect of the second question, he tried not to get into the numbers game, which was a matter of political and sentencing policy. But whatever the number of people it was deemed appropriate to imprison, they should be held safely, securely and decently so that their time in prison could be purposeful and help to rehabilitate them. Building more prisons without making them more purposeful was the road to perdition.
Mark Day invited Lord Ramsbotham to make his concluding remarks.
Lord Ramsbotham thanked Peter Clarke for his masterly address. He had given the meeting much food for thought. Lord Ramsbotham wished him good fortune, and hoped we might see him again in the prison world in the future. He also thanked all those who had attended, which showed the interest there was in the prison system, and he hoped that those who were in contact with ministers would share some of these ideas.