Prisoners need greater awareness of voluntary services, says research

July 28, 2011

New research from the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) highlights the need to make prisoners more aware of voluntary organisations that could help them towards resettlement. The report shows that despite the relatively high number of third sector organisations working within prisons, many are not known by prisoners.

TSRC researchers from the University of Southampton conducted a survey across eight prisons nationally to investigate prisoners' experiences of third sector organisations (TSOs). The number of TSOs that each prison claimed was active in their establishment ranged from 15 to 31. However, on average, reported having heard of just four.

Engagement with third sector organisations was also low, with only 5 per cent of prisoners having engaged with at least one. Where prisoners had heard of an organisation, but not engaged with them, the main reasons given were that they knew nothing about them or did not feel they could help.

The researchers looked specifically at prisoners' of organisations operating within seven different areas or 'pathways' of resettlement. They found that TSOs working on drug and alcohol issues had the most consistent representation and use within prisons.

Within other pathways there was a between the representation of organisations and awareness of these by prisoners. While each prison had a number of organisations which provided housing, for example only 20 – 25 per cent of respondents were aware of these and nearly 10 per cent of respondents identified accommodation as a key area where supply did not fit demand. Similar problems were noted within employment, education and training, and finance and debt.

Certain groups of were also more likely to engage with different services. Women respondents and those from non-British Black, Asian and mixed ethnic (BAME) backgrounds reported significantly less engagement with housing TSOs despite equal levels of awareness. Young adult and juvenile respondents reported less awareness and involvement with accommodation TSOs. This is backed up by previous TSRC research, which illustrated under-representation of housing organisations offering services to women offenders, young offenders and offenders from BAME backgrounds.

In open-ended questions, 25 per cent of respondents said that more organisations are needed to provide employment, training and work placements for prisoners in the community. This was especially the case among young adult and juvenile offenders, as well as in open prisons where the number of TSOs operating in this area was low.

Dina Gojkovic, TSRC researcher at the University of Southampton, says: "Our ongoing research within the criminal justice system has highlighted a proven need for the work of TSOs and the benefits they can provide. While our survey did not measure engagement with statutory services, the identified need for more of some services shows that prisoners are not necessarily getting these from elsewhere. It certainly seems that improving the communication between TSOs and could help more people to benefit from them."

Related Stories

Sex in Australian prisons: the facts

April 13, 2011

We all know what goes on in prison. Or do we? A study examining sexual behaviour and sexual culture in jails in NSW and Queensland suggests that popular beliefs about prison sex are largely myths.

Recommended for you

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

July 27, 2015

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...

Fatherhood makes men fat

July 21, 2015

All those leftover pizza crusts you snatch from your kids' plates add up. Men gain weight after they become fathers for the first time whether or not they live with their children, reports a large, new Northwestern Medicine ...

Words jump-start vision, psychologist's study shows

July 21, 2015

Cognitive scientists have come to view the brain as a prediction machine, constantly comparing what is happening around us to expectations based on experience—and considering what should happen next.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.